Hispanic Business released yesterday their 2013 “Influentials” list, where they included Maria Cardona for her work as a political strategist and expertise in the communications field.
Cardona spoke with HispanicBusiness in an interview and touched on topics such as her upbringing, working as a political strategist, and how she feels being a Latina pushed her to rise above discrimination and prove herself as a strong influential figure in the Latino community.
“[M]y proudest moments come when I get emails or comments from young Latinas across the country saying how proud they are to see a strong Latina on national television up against “the old white boys,” not just on immigration or the Latino vote, but on issues like the economy, and Iraq, Afghanistan, foreign policy, the budget, for example,” said Cardona.
Not having many Latino mentors, Cardona mentions how she relied on Secretary of Commerce Ronald H. Brown for guidance as his deputy press secretary. However, Cardona says she wonders how not having many Latinos in the politics could affect others interested to pursue the field.
“Hopefully, that problem has been taken care of, though we are a ways out of achieving parity of representation in government that equals our percentage of population,” she says. “We certainly have grown our ranks and will continue to do so.”
Other individuals included in the Hispanic Business’ Influentials List are Francisco Sanchez, Under Secretary of State for International Trade, The White House; George Ramirez, Executive Vice President at Union Bank; Yvette Donado, Chief Administrative Office and Senior Vice President of People, Process and Communications for the Educational Testing Service (ETS); Juan Cento, President of FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean Division; and Abel Barrientes, Mobilization Assistant to the Director of Operations in the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), in the U.S.A.F.
Cardona attributes much of her successes to overcoming the obstacles that she has encountered along the way, remembering what it was like to be a Latina starting out in the political world, and how those experiences have shaped her.
“I have certainly felt like I have been dismissed out of hand for being a Latina,” she tells HispanicBusiness. “However, that taught me to rise above it and prove myself through preparation, due diligence, smarts, and a bit of a personal touch.”