Entrepreneur-turned-organizer Emiliana Guereca shares stories of personal, professional and political triumphs.
“We need to identify our power and step into it,” Co-Executive Director and Founder of Women’s March Foundation Emiliana Guereca encouraged women viewers of all ages and cultures at the most recent Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series event, originally broadcast on Jan. 26 and rebroadcast Feb. 2. As evidenced throughout the interview, Guereca is a prime example of the good that can come of stepping into one’s power.
In a conversation moderated by the Equity & Justice Institute Operations Coordinator Janeen Jackson—with questions from sophomores Zoie Brogdon and Sydney Johnson, juniors Jaylah Lewis and Lena Levy and senior Wendy Cortez—Guereca shared her impressive trajectory. An immigrant from Mexico who grew up in the Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago, Guereca was a successful entrepreneur in charge of running large-scale commercial events when she and several other volunteer organizers began plans for Los Angeles’ first Women’s March in 2017.
“I really thought that I was going to organize this march along with this fabulous cohort of organizers, and go back to my job,” Guereca reflected. “And I couldn't … I realized that women were missing ... from the business world, women in leadership were missing from the political world. And so, I decided that we were going to create this organization and that we were going to make sure that women were on the map. Women were seen, heard and felt valued.”
Since then, Guereca has been a leading organizer behind the three subsequent Women’s Marches in Los Angeles. Guereca also helped establish a political branch of the foundation called Women’s March Action, which focuses on non-partisan education, civic engagement and advocacy for the issues affecting women around the country.
Sydney, a member of the Black Student Union and Black Girls Magic, asked Guereca to reflect on her success: “Women’s Marches were held internationally and received so much support. What do you think the implications of their global impact are, and how do those implications impact you personally?”
In addition to garnering numerous awards and distinctions, Guereca’s efforts led to something much greater, she proudly acknowledged: “Women found their voice.” Gurereca cited the Me Too Movement, March for Our Lives and other movements organized by women in the wake of the Women's March.
As part of Advisory, Middle Schoolers had the opportunity to put Guereca’s work into historical context. Todd Baron, who teaches Middle School Core, led his students in a discussion of the women’s suffrage movement, the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s and contemporary causes and issues.
Now a key player in this history, Guereca recognizes the work still to be done: “We are all in this together, and we are going to work towards equity. And it may take a little bit longer, but within four years of us marching, we have a VP in Kamala Harris from California. She is the daughter of immigrants, a Black woman. Think about all of that and see yourself in that position. See yourself in a leadership position.”