Latino Leaders share experiences


Joanna Mikolajczak

From left to right: Ana-Maria Ramos, State Representative House District 102, Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, Dallas ISD Superintendent, Cynthia Cano Mansfield Digital Marketing Manager, Monica Lira Bravo, Dallas College Board of Trustees District 4 Chair and Diana Flores, Dallas College Board of Trustees and moderator, spoke during the event.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, North Lake Campus Multicultural Affairs hosted the “Hispanic Leaders: A Journey of Life and Leadership Through the Ages” event with local Hispanic leaders over their journey in life and leadership roles on Sept. 29.

The panel consisted of four prominent Hispanic women from within Dallas County and key leaders from Dallas College who spoke about their challenges when seeking success.

Each panelist discussed how higher education helped further their career and shared stories of how they maneuvered through prejudice, racism and sexism to undertake leadership roles.

The panelist said they agreed that good leaders possess key characteristics that help them be effective. Stephanie Elizalde, Dallas Independent School District Superintendent, said that all leaders are authentic and should emulate listening and speaking skills.

Elizalde said a leader is educated because they know how to listen and can now use their voice to connect, empower and lead people.

Despite their financial and social adversities, each panelist succeeded in their career.

Elizalde said she doesn’t feel successful in her career because her most significant accomplishments have been a team effort. She thanked her family, friends, community, and colleagues for her leadership position at Dallas ISD.

Monica Lira Bravo, chair of Dallas College Board of Trustees, District 4, said one of the greatest struggles she had to overcome was her inability to believe in herself.

Like most women, Bravo said she had to be 110% on everything. Bravo said she was afraid of opening a law firm. Then she received encouragement from her boss, who told her she was ready to be a businesswoman.

Fast forward 11 years and Bravo is the owner and managing attorney of Lira Bravo Law, PLLC, specializing in immigration and nationality law with 20 employees.

 “I doubted myself, and I did not know it,” Bravo said.

Ana-Maria Ramos, State Representative of House District 102, said she pushed herself to see her “hood” struggles as a blessing.

Ramos, who grew up in East Dallas, said her upbringing helped her in the political world because the hardships she faced growing up gave her a unique life perspective, ultimately making her a good problem solver.

Ramos said that she learned to be proud of her humble beginnings because it has allowed her to help empower the less fortunate.

Ramos told the crowd that when she ran for House District 102, many people said to her that a Latina could never win that election. That only pushed her to work harder than her competitor and win.

“The beauty of growing up poor is I know how to do it,” Ramos said.

An audience Q&A followed. One of the questions asked to the panelist was whether any struggled with imposter syndrome. The panelist agreed that there are times each struggled or felt they didn’t deserve their position.

“If we ever feel like a fraud or undeserving, remember that we have unique gifts and skills that will allow us or have allowed us to contribute to society,” Cynthia Cano, Mansfield’s digital marketing manager, said.

Diana Flores, Dallas College Board of Trustees and event moderator, told the crowd to get imposter syndrome. Flores said that in American history, Hispanics were relegated to labor work only, and many Chicanos have fought for our right to access professional, political and leadership positions.

“Get over imposter syndrome,” Flores said.” Because there was a time in this country that no matter how smart you were, how hard you worked, you could not have access to positions, to a college education, to anything.”

Other key takeaways from the event were to be true to yourself, know where your ethics and morals stand, can collaborate with people regardless of your differences and make sure to self-treat before taking care of others.T