Hispanic Heritage Month was marked as a celebration of the history, culture, and contribution of Hispanic/Latinx Americans. The Hispanic/Latinx communities hail from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, South and Central America. Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 when President Johnson approved the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Week. President Regan then extended the week-long celebration to the 30-day period we know today starting Sept. 15th through October 15th.
This year, we celebrate the legacy of those who have made significant contributions to the fabric of American history with Hispanic/Latin roots by recognizing prominent figures in the community. Here are four Latinx women making waves in innovation:
Perdomo grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil before moving to San Francisco at age 18. Passionate about human rights, she started her career in the United States as a community organizer focused on homelessness and immigrant rights.
After Hurricane Sandy tore through the Eastern Seaboard and knocked out power and cell service for thousands in 2012, Perdomo and her brother paired up to create and supply a product that could bridge this communication gap during events (such as natural disasters). GoTenna creates a decentralized connectivity though mobile, long-range mesh networks via peer-to-peer communication devices.
GoTenna Mesh and GoTenna pro both create independent mesh networks that let users send texts and share GPS locations without cell service or Wi-Fi. Currently GoTenna is utilized in over 50 countries to close connectivity gaps.
"Gaps in centralized communications put lives and livelihoods at risk. As we prepare for a world with hundreds of billions of connected things, we should never again have to contend with an unconnected last mile.”
Miralles grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. She has been named in the Top 20 most influential Hispanics in the US in 2015 and 2016 as well as one of BBC’s 2015 100 Inspirational Women in the World.
Since 1993, her Dynamic Onboard Ubiquitous Graphics (DOUG) software has been used to simulate space operations and train astronauts in extravehicular activity, or space walks. In 2009 she received the NASA Exceptional Award for Innovation after helping design software that has been used to train astronauts for every space shuttle and International Space Station mission since 2000.
“I want to see the technology flourish beyond me. Imagine somebody standing on the moon looking at the earth through a VR helmet that allows all the children in one school to see what the astronaut is looking at. I love to empower people.”
Originally from Costa Rica, ten Brink has an MBA from Columbia Business School and now resides in New York City with her family. She has experience working with legacy companies such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden and Procter & Gamble.
In 2014, ten Brink founded Scentbird, a monthly perfume subscription service. With a goal of switching up the fragrance market, Scentbird allows subscribers to choose from over 500 scents online and try out a 30-day supply rather than committing to full bottles. Scentbird utilized customer data and an algorithm reliant on over 500,000 reviews to deliver customized recommendations.
In 2016, the Scentbird team expanded its range with the Deck of Scarlet brand: a subscription service selling makeup palettes inspired by current beauty influencer trends while remaining practical and monetarily conscious.
“I realized that to truly innovate, I had to go outside the limitations of a legacy company. Legacy companies have a history, they are big and layered, and everything new is viewed as a risk.”
Sotomayor, born in the Bronx, is of Puerto Rican descent. She completed her undergraduate education at Princeton University and received her law degree from Yale. She went on serve many roles including Assistant District Attorney, Associate and Partner at Pavia & Harcourt, and sat as a judge on the US District Court, Southern District of New York and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In 2009, Sotomayor was nominated as a Supreme Court Justice by President Obama as the first ever Latin American Justice, and the third woman, to serve on the Supreme Court. She currently serves and has been a champion in the fight for equality, playing a large role in the landmark decision allowing same sex marriage in 2015.
“I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and governments.”