Women’s History Month 2023- Lupe Serrano

This month, in honor of Women's History Month, we are honoring Rising Stars and Mothers of the Movement. Today, we are highlighting Mother of the Movement, Lupe Serrano as shared by our Chief Executive Officer, Amy J. Sánchez.

I met Lupe in 1997 when we were members of a Board of Directors together.  Lupe was the Board President and I was in awe of her from the first day.  She had a quiet fierceness that I had never seen.  She could change the trajectory of a conversation with just one look and engage Latin@s to action with only a few words.   

A year later, Lupe asked me to work for her at Casa de Esperanza, which is now Esperanza United.  I worked for her and learned from her every day until her passing in 2009.  Throughout those short years, I witnessed the power of one woman to affect change.  She was a visionary, sometimes I think well before the world, at least the world in Minnesota, was ready for her.  She came like a force and then left us way too soon. Lupe had a fundamental belief in the power of community.   

She often said, “with information, access to resources, and support, Latin@s will do in their own best interest.  We need to stop treating community as needy.  Latin@s have needs—like everyone does—by we are not ‘needy’ peoples.”   

She was a teacher, a nun, a sister, a partner, and a leader.  She was also a nonprofit icon both locally and nationally.  She founded Hispanic Ministries in the Twin Cities, HACER (Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research), and Hispanic Women’s Development Corporation. She was also an early contributor at CLUES and Casa de Esperanza.  

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As much as I claim Lupe as my boss, mentor, friend, confidant, and leader, she isn’t really mine to claim at all.  Lupe was that—and a whole bunch more to many people throughout the country.  She was a mentor and changed the lives of many people.  From elected officials to community activists to women living in domestic violence, Lupe knew how to authentically connect with people.  She used to say that some of her favorite times working at Casa de Esperanza were those at 3 a.m. when she and a bunch of the residents would sit around the kitchen table with a cup of strong coffee and talk about their goals, their futures, and their strengths.  She believed in the inherent goodness of humanity. Though she faced huge challenges and daily racism, she responded to them with optimism and strength. Lupe was an undeniable change agent. She changed organizations. She changed lives. She changed me. 

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