Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Falling in Love with America

Falling in Love with America

More From Ileana

In this video

Ros-Lehtinen recalls what made her really fall in love with her new country as a young immigrant.

Ileana 's Biography

Historical Influence: Sir Winston Churchill
String of Firsts: Before becoming the first Hispanic US Congresswoman, she served as the first Hispanic woman in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate.
Political Connections: Jeb Bush was her campaign manager when she first ran for her US House seat in 1989.
Advice for Younger Women: "Don't think of everything that could go wrong. Think of everything that can go right."

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen fled Castro’s Cuba with her family when she was eight. She was educated in Miami’s Little Havana and earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1975, before founding and serving as a teacher/principal in a Hialeah, Florida private school. She later wrote, "I was inspired to enter public service by many of the parents and students, to fight on their behalf..." Her own education never stopped. She earned her master's while she was serving the Florida House of Representatives and a doctorate after a decade-and-a-half in the United States Congress. Ros-Lehtinen’s 1989 election to the latter made her the first Cuban-American and the first Latina to join the House. 
 
Now in her third decade in Congress, she is Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a vigorous national defense advocate. But she breaks from her party in her anything-but-orthodox stands on behalf of gay rights. She was one of only 15 House Republicans to support the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and is the first GOP member to have supported repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Ros-Lehtinen is a proud mother and grandmother and a fighter for human rights, at home and abroad. 

Related Videos

Judy Blume
Judy Blume
Best-Selling Author

Judy Blume is one of America’s most beloved authors and one of its most vigilant and committed anti-censorship activists. Her 28 titles include Tiger Eyes, Forever, and Are Y...

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
First Female Speaker of the US House Of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi is the Minority Leader in the United States House of Representatives. In 2007 she became the 60th Speaker of the House and the first female Speaker in American history...

Kris Carr
Kris Carr
Cancer Survivor & Author

Kris Carr is a best-selling author, filmmaker, motivational speaker and wellness coach. After being diagnosed with a rare and incurable stage four cancer, Kris was inspired to prom...

Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova
Champion Tennis Player

Martina Navratilova is a tennis legend. Born and raised in Communist Czechoslovakia, she defected to the United States at 18 years old, leaving her family behind in order to pursue...