Latina Spotlight

Catherine Emmanuel, Eau Claire, WI City Council Member

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  1. When was your “aha moment” or when did you realize you could run for office? I never considered running for public office. Back when I was a single parent, I took the opportunity to go back to school. I learned about more women who were rebuilding their lives, and for the first time, public policy became an interest of mine. I was encouraged by folks to develop my leadership and started attending women’s leadership training programs, including ones that encouraged women to run for office. During these trainings, I started to see that I could run for office and make meaningful contributions with my community. There was a vacancy for the city council and I decided to apply for it. While I did not get appointed, many people reached out to me and said that they would like to help me to run for city council election the following spring. I ran for office, and lost by about 300 votes. I didn’t let this setback keep me from seeking a seat at the table. I applied for a few more vacant seats on the city council and was appointed in September 2012. I then had to run for re-election the following spring, and I won! And I didn’t win all by myself, I had many people from the community step up and help in my campaign, and I am still so grateful for the friends and new friends I made through their support. At the time, I was the youngest female to be elected, and I am still the first Latinx to hold local government office in our community. Three years later, I was re-elected again. I’ve been the top female vote getter for the last two elections. 
  2. Did anyone nominate or encourage you to run for office? Did you nominate yourself? See above 🙂 
  3. What do you think makes you a leader? My life experiences as a mom, partner, daughter, neighbor, employee all help to shape my passion and empathy to care for people through public policy. I can listen, ask the right questions, and work to find solutions – all stuff that can be done with or without a degree, riches, or any other title – just me, and this is the same for other women too! 
  4.  What does being Latina mean to you? When I think about being a Latina and being a leader, I think about my great-grandma, who came to the states from Mexico. I think about what was it like for my great-grandma to even think about being a leader in her community? She was a widowed mother with 9 children, working 2 jobs. I think about all she did to take care of her family and to make ends meet, and that the next generation (my grandma) could build upon her mother’s successes, and I could build upon my mother’s successes, and that my daughter can build upon my successes. With each generation, we pay it forward and work to make our world a little better than we found it. I am half-Mexican and half-Irish, and strongly identified with my Latina heritage. Being Latina in 2017 for me means to live bi-culturally in a world, where I get to help shape, influence, and improve for the next generation – what an honor and responsibility! 
  5. What are 3 top tips for women who are thinking about running for office? Have the ability to listen & research, work with others yet think independently, and most important – have a fire in your belly for what you are passionate about! 


Vanessa Diaz, Creative Services Founder, Pipeline Pepper


  1. When was your “aha moment” or when did you realize you could run for office? I have a had a few impactful moments in my life in relation to politics but will share this one for brevity.  A relative of mine was Luis Donaldo Colosio, he ran for President of Mexico until he was assassinated at a political rally in Tijuana, Mexico. I was in third grade when I really learned the highest price of politics. He was known as a man trying to help the poor. Because of him and the influence he had on me, I have been a volunteer for many causes and have I have worked at non-profits for a lot of my professional career. That coupled with more recent national elections of 2016 motivate me to go beyond voting, petition signing, and past involvement. I am more focused on getting more women into politics.
  2. Did anyone nominate or encourage you to run for office? Did you nominate yourself? Most of my life I have had people encouraging me to get involved in positions of leadership and to consider running for an office, but even more so in the past five years or so.|||  I had been doing research on She Should Run, Emily’s List and Vote Run Lead with the political tension rising last year. A few friends and I nominated each other / signed each other up to receive information following my research. To my knowledge, I am the first to attend an event hosted by the women-focused organizations thus far.
  3. What do you think makes you a leader? I have a genuine interest in learning people’s stories and how they came to their place in life, conclusion or thought. I love building upon other’s ideas and building people up, brainstorming in a group is a favorite activity of mine.
  4.  What does being Latina mean to you? What is your background? My father was born in Mexico and was immigrated as a teen. He worked in the fields most of his life. My mother was born in the US and comes from a family with packing shed and field working labor backgrounds. My parents being Hispanic / Latin made being Latina a big part of my identity. I am very proud of my parents, the culture and the compassion they taught me. Primarily growing up on a ranch three miles to the Mexican border I grew up seeing poverty on the other side and it kept me grounded, grateful and always wanting to help people. Many that meet me assume I grew up in a big city and speak no Spanish which could not be further from the truth. As a kid, I was too Latina and as an adult, many feel I am not Latina enough but regardless of what anyone thinks, I fully love both sides of me that I feel meet in the middle without having to let go of one side. In addition, being Latina means working hard, helping others and being an example to other Latinas to strive to succeed.
  5. What are 3 top tips for women who are thinking about running for office? 1) Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to share it tastefully but also be mindful of what you put out there on social media. Know, not everyone (including friends and family) will agree with you and some may not always respond politely. As they say, have thick skin.  2) Ask for the meeting, do not be scared to ask to meet with people you admire, in fields you want to consider and especially women in roles of leadership and power. You may find a future mentor too. 3) Tell your friends and family about your political aspirations, they may surprise you with support and ask how they can help. If they do not offer, ask. Most people have not given to a campaign or a specific charity because they were not asked.

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**The #INominate #YoNomino project is aimed at encouraging more Latinas to seek public leadership positions. It is not intended to be and should not be construed as an “endorsement” by Barnard College, The Athena Leadership Program, VoteRunLead, LatinasRepresent or any of our allies. Barnard College, VoteRunLead and LatinasRepresent are all non-partisan 501(c)(3) entities.