For International Women’s Day, a day that honors the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, I celebrate the three generations of Mexican-American women who came before me:

  1. My great-grandmother, Hortencia, the entrepreneur. She drove around all the fields in Selma, CA providing food to the farm laborers and opened a general store on her property to serve them on the off hours as well (I swear she was the first taco truck!). She was also the loving mother of five daughters.
  2. My grandmother, Mary, the Human Resources executive. Growing up she was always the top of her class, but was never encouraged toward success by her teachers because of her ethnicity. When she saw white women from her school days moving up in the workplace, she thought, “hey, if I got better grades than them, maybe I can do well like them, too.” A simple yet profound realization that led to many power suits in the 80s.
  3. My mother, Rosemary, the educator. She knew teaching would be her destiny from her first year in school. After teaching and later coaching teachers for 36 years, her heart still bleeds for underserved youth. She’s defied the odds by dramatically raising test scores for children others have forgotten, and continues to learn everything she can (she’s really into neuroscience right now) and teach whomever will listen.

These women have touched my life and paved the way for a brighter future for me and generations to come for many others. Happy International Women’s Day!

Helping powerful women get clarity at The Happy Cactus. Producer of the Color Forward podcast, co-host of Seriously Though podcast. More: