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

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

Alice Walker
Alice Walker
Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

Growing up in the South prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement, had a major impact on the life and career of novelist, poet, and activist, Alice Walker. The eighth child of ...

Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison
First African-American Woman in Space

Growing up in the southside of Chicago, Mae Jemison was always curious about space. After graduating from Stanford University, she became a medical doctor and worked in Liberia and...

Marin Alsop
Marin Alsop
First Woman Conductor of a Major American Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Marin Alsop is a lot more than just the first female conductor of a major American orchestra. Alsop is also the Chief Conductor of the Sao ...

Julie Rofman
Julie Rofman
Artist & Jewelry Designer

An artist and business owner, Julie Rofman is a Venice-based painter, sculptor, and jewelry designer whose colorful beadwork bracelets have sold online and in over 100 stores world...