Welcome! A New Congress, and two New U.S. Senators
From three Latinas congresswomen and two sworn-in Latino Senators, LATINA Style is proud to welcome them to the 117th Congress.
Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM-3)
Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez represents New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. In Washington, she has already taken a leadership role with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as Freshman Representative. Congresswoman Leger Fernandez has also been appointed to the House Committee on Education and Labor and the House Committee on Natural Resources.
She is a 17th generation Northern New Mexican, who grew up as part of a large rural ranching and farming family. Before coming to Congress, Leger Fernandez worked as an attorney and advocate, and won important legal battles to advance voting rights, promote tribal sovereignty, and protect our environment and acequia waters. She has helped secure nearly a billion dollars for, and then helped build, schools, rural health clinics, broadband, businesses, affordable housing and critical infrastructure for New Mexico. Leger Fernandez was also a Clinton and Obama presidential appointee, and worked as a White House Fellow on housing issues and as Vice-Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL-27)
Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar proudly represents Florida’s 27th Congressional District, passionately serving the people of South Florida. She currently serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as the House Committee on Small Business.
Congresswoman Salazar is committed to acting tirelessly in defense of individual rights and liberties, spearheading economic development & job training efforts, and promoting environmental resiliency in her community. She is well-known for her advocacy for Human Rights and democracy around the world, especially for the people of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, as well as for her unabashed support of our global & regional partners such as Israel, Colombia, and Taiwan.
Congresswoman Salazar is a five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist— she has spent her career holding the corrupt and powerful accountable. Congresswoman Salazar has gone toe-to-toe with Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, and most notably Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, being the only US Spanish-language journalist to ever interview the tyrant one-on-one.
CongresswomanNicole Malliotakis (R-NY-11)
Nicole Malliotakis was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 2, 2010, defeating a two-term incumbent. She currently serves as Minority Whip and the ranking minority member of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Employees. The Assemblywoman became a household name as the 2017 Republican nominee for Mayor of the City of New York against incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio, holding the mayor accountable for the city’s high property taxes, bloated budget, and status as a sanctuary city.
Malliotakis is the daughter of immigrants, her father from Greece and her mother a Cuban exile of the Castro dictatorship. She is currently the only Republican woman and only Hispanic Republican elected official in New York City, and represents a district spanning the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island.
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla
Senator Alex Padilla is the proud son of Mexican immigrants, his father a short-order cook and his mother a housekeeper. Padilla attended Los Angeles public schools and is a graduate of MIT where he studied mechanical engineering. After graduating from MIT, Padilla was elected to the Los Angeles City Council where he served as the youngest Council President in Los Angeles history and provided citywide leadership at critical times, including serving as acting Mayor during the tragedy of September 11, 2001. He was elected to the State Senate in 2006 to represent the more than 1.1 million people in the San Fernando Valley. As a State Senator, he passed more than 70 bills, including landmark legislation to combat climate change, and was named as one of Sacramento’s “most effective legislators.”
Padilla was sworn in as California’s first Latino Secretary of State on January 5, 2015 and was re-elected in 2018, receiving the most votes of any Latino elected official in the United States. As Secretary of State, Alex worked to make our elections more accessible and inclusive, while fighting to protect the integrity of our voting systems. In December 2020 he was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to finish the term of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Padilla lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife Angela and their three sons.
U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján
On January 3, 2021, Ben Ray Luján was sworn into office as a U.S. Senator representing New Mexico. He previously served as U.S. Representative for New Mexico’s Third Congressional District and House Assistant Speaker in the 116th Congress.
Senator Luján grew up in Nambé, a small farming community north of Santa Fe, bordered by the Nambé and Pojoaque Pueblos. It was there that he learned New Mexico values, including hard work, dedication, and perseverance, from his family and community.
Since being elected to Congress in 2008, Senator Luján has championed efforts to create good-paying jobs in New Mexico, expand quality health care and protect patients with pre-existing conditions, preserve our natural resources and sacred sites, build a clean energy economy, and uplift the middle-class.
Senator Luján has focused on spurring local economic growth through a number of legislative initiatives. His bill to make it easier for local entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to the marketplace was signed into law, and he has written legislation that would leverage New Mexico’s labs to drive job creation while addressing tomorrow’s energy challenges.
Recognizing that action on the climate crisis cannot wait another generation, Senator Luján has been a leading voice in the fight against climate change. He has developed bold, comprehensive legislation to put the United States on a path to net-zero carbon emissions to combat the climate crisis and grow the economy. This visionary plan has earned praise from climate experts, environmental advocates, and labor groups.
He has also been a fierce advocate for environmental protection in New Mexico. Luján helped lead an effort during the Obama administration to establish national monument designations for the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, preserving some of New Mexico’s greatest treasures and tourism drivers. In addition, he helped lead the effort to protect the greater Chaco Canyon region from harmful oil and gas drilling and dangerous methane emissions.
Luján is a long-time advocate for New Mexico’s acequias and traditional lands. He continually works to ensure funding for these cultural assets. He also supports rural farming and ranching by advancing legislation to help food-producing communities advance entrepreneurship.
Throughout his time in Congress, Luján has fought to increase New Mexicans’ access to quality health care, no matter where they live or how much money they make. He has had legislation signed into law to bolster the Children’s Health Insurance Program and strengthen Medicaid and Medicare. Senator Luján has also worked in a bipartisan manner to secure millions in funding to combat the opioid crisis in New Mexico and increase access to treatment and recovery services.
Senator Luján has been a champion for New Mexico working families. He’s fought to raise the minimum wage, close the gender pay gap, and bridge the digital divide for rural communities. He has been an unwavering supporter of women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and continues to advance causes important to New Mexico families.
Before his election to Congress, Senator Luján served as the Chairman of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. As a Commissioner, he worked with his colleagues to develop a renewable portfolio standard to increase clean energy production by New Mexico utilities. He also advocated for first responders, working to overhaul the New Mexico Fire Fund so that all distributions from the fund would go to improving fire services in New Mexico.
Prior to his service on the Public Regulation Commission, Luján was the New Mexico Cultural Affairs Department’s director of administrative services and chief financial officer.
Senator Luján earned his Bachelor’s degree from New Mexico Highlands University in Business Administration.