Latina Bridges: Sustaining Puentes in New Orleans

Hannah Dean

Abstract


This case study details the history of Puentes New Orleans, a community organization for Latino-identified residents of the city, most specifically under the leadership of current Executive Director, Carolina Hernandez. This case provides sociological and political perspectives of Latina activism and leadership as well as the history of Latino immigration and consequent civic engagement. Latina activism has historically differentiated from Latino activism in that Latinas often participate in grassroots organizations instead of running for elected political positions. Despite Latina leadership, Latina women face discrimination as leaders based on their gender, ethnicity, and identification as members of the Latino community. This discrimination, combined with specific characteristics of the Latino immigrant population in New Orleans, contributes to challenges faced by leaders in community organizations like Puentes. Hernandez experienced these challenges firsthand while she led the organization through financial and structural crises. Hernandez's experience provides a concrete example of the challenges and triumphs encountered by a modern Latina leader seeking to create change in her community through grassroots efforts.

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