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

Learning to Start Over

Learning to Start Over

More From Ileana

In this video

Living through the Cuban Revolution and seeing her parents rebuild in the US taught Ros-Lehtinen about perseverance and the courage to start over.

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

Maria Klawe
Maria Klawe
President, Harvey Mudd College

Maria Klawe the fifth president of Harvey Mudd College. A renowned mathematician, computer scientist and scholar, Klawe is the first woman to lead the College since its 1955 found...

Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington
President & Editor-In-Chief, The Huffington Post

Arianna Huffington is the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author. Originally from Greece, Huffi...

Ellie Smeal
Ellie Smeal
Co-Founder & President, Feminist Majority

Eleanor (Ellie) Smeal, is Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Through both organizations...

Rachel McLish
Rachel McLish
First Female Bodybuilding Champion

Rachel McLish is a female bodybuilding champion, actress and author. When she earned the inaugural Ms. Olympia bodybuilding title in 1980, she put the sport of women’s bodybu...