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.


More Republican Women Candidates

More Republican Women Candidates

More From Ileana

In this video

Ros-Lehtinen dispels old myths and calls for more Republican women to run for office.

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

Barbara Walters
Barbara Walters
First Woman Co-Anchor of Network Evening News

Barbara Walters is easily America’s most celebrated interviewer who, in May 2013, announced she would retire from TV journalism in 2014. She has spoken with more statesmen an...

Vendela Vida
Vendela Vida

Vendela Vida is an American writer, columnist, journalist and editor. She is the author of "And Now You Can Go," and "Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name," ...

Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi
Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo

Indra Nooyi has led PepsiCo’s global strategy for over a decade. In 2013, she was named the third most powerful woman in business by Fortune. Seven years running, she’s...

Angela Ahrendts
Angela Ahrendts
Senior Vice President of Retail, Apple

Angela Ahrendts is a businesswoman who is currently Apple's senior vice president of retail and online stores. Prior to her joining Apple, Ahrendts served as CEO of Burberry, l...