Afro Latinas Lead: A Blueprint for Action


According to 2020 Census data, there are 62.1 million Latinos living in the United States, representing nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. population. Yet despite recent gains, Latinos remain vastly underrepresented in government, serving in less than 2 percent of  elected positions. Latina representation is even lower, despite this demographic’s economic and political influence. And, while 6 million U.S. adults identify as Afro Latino, there are only three Afro Latino members of Congress, all men.  

Afro Latinas Lead, is a comprehensive strategic initiative by Latino Victory under the First Latinas program umbrella, that focuses on addressing the barriers to electing the first Afro Latina to Congress and building a pipeline of Afro Latina elected officials at all levels of government.  

Over the past several months, Latino Victory has engaged in multi-modal research about the obstacles that Afro Latina candidates face when running for office. The challenges are clear: a lack of current and reliable research data on the Afro Latino(a) population; racism, colorism and the self-identification dilemma; the absence of a pre-existing bench of Afro Latinas in elected office; the gender gap; the influence of money in politics; media bias; intimidation; and the limitations of Latino voting power, among other factors.

Afro Latinas Lead will serve as a public commitment by Latino Victory and its partnering organizations to effectuate change through a strategic action plan, which includes:

  1. Investing in research and data to develop real-time strategies and messaging;
  2. Recruitment of Afro Latina candidates for office at all levels of government;
  3. Training candidates and staff through our Path to Victory program, with the goal of enlisting 50 Afro Latinas by June 2025;
  4. Supporting candidates financially through direct contributions, fundraising and independent expenditures;
  5. Increasing Afro Latina candidates’ visibility through direct media exposure;
  6. Building a national support network of Afro Latina leaders; and
  7. Expanding Latino voter participation in key districts to help Afro Latinas win.


This Blueprint is the result of research of publicly available information, as well as independent data-gathering through a series of roundtable discussions hosted by Latino Victory and partners. The first roundtable took place on October 18th, 2023 in Washington, DC, followed by a second roundtable on November 9th, 2023 as part of the New York Legislature’s Puerto Rican/ Latino Task Force Conference, SOMOS Puerto Rico. A third roundtable took place virtually in December 2023 and was open to Afro Latinas from across the country.  

A total of 75 leaders participated in the roundtables. This included: four Afro Latinas who ran for the U.S. Congress, but were unsuccessful; one  Afro Latina who ran for statewide office; a sitting Afro Latino Member of Congress who became the first Dominican-American and the first formerly undocumented member of Congress; and other notable Afro Latina elected officials and aspiring candidates. 

These discussions yielded invaluable information on the challenges Afro Latinas face when running for office and, coupled with public data and limited research, helped inform the plan of action Afro Latinas Lead will take to address these obstacles.


Latino Victory Fund Board Member Yrthya Dinzey-Flores, an Afro Latina

“Latino Victory has worked hard to increase the Latino candidate bench in the United States House and the Senate, and this program [Afro Latinas Lead] will help continue our long-standing work to increase political representation in 2024 and beyond.”


Since 2014, Latino Victory Fund has endorsed and supported over 400 candidates for public office and has played a key role in expanding Latino representation at all levels of government, including historic firsts for their respective offices.  Throughout this process, Latino Victory has also protected gains to advance Latino political influence, expanded the candidate bench for the United States House and Senate, and grown Latino voter engagement and power.

Six Afro Latina candidates were endorsed and supported by the organization since 2020 under its signature “First Latinas” program, including Candance Valenzuela (TX-24), Kristine Reeves (WA-10), Juana Matias (MA-03), Hala Ayala (VA-Lt. Gov), Amanda Farías (NYC Council) and Pierina Sanchez (NYC Council).  And, in 2023, Latino Victory Fund endorsed Sabina Matos in Rhode Island for the 1st Congressional District. 

In 2024 and beyond, as we continue Latino Victory’s work, we must ensure that we step up to the challenge of addressing the battle for political representation within the Latino community by electing Afro Latinas to Congress. Based on our research and feedback from the roundtable discussions, as noted in the following pages, the barriers are many:

  1. Lack of current and reliable research data on the Afro Latino(a) population
  2. Racism, colorism and the self-identification dilemma
  3. The absence of a pre-existing bench of Afro Latinas in elected office
  4. The gender gap
  5. The influence of money in politics
  6. Media bias
  7. Intimidation
  8. The limitations of Latino voting power

The Afro Latinas Lead program is designed to help level the playing field for Afro Latina congressional candidates to succeed, while also building the bench and uplifting the voices of Afro Latina leaders at all levels of government.

  1. Lack of current and reliable research data on the Afro Latino(a) population:

Latinos are not a monolith and there are specific challenges and opportunities that arise from working in a community that is as diverse and multicultural as ours. The lack of current and reliable research is at the forefront of those challenges.

Most recent published articles on Afro Latinos draw from the same three data sets:

Despite the merits of these data sets, the dearth of information regarding Afro Latinidad, and more specifically as it relates to electoral politics, voting power and representation, presents an imminent danger to achieving progress in any of the issues that matter to this community. And unfortunately, research on Afro Latinos is not only limited based on quantity and scope, but also on consistency. As noted in the UCLA study above, “administrative data sources do not capture the nuances of lived experiences, and predetermined questions and categories can never fully capture one’s identity.”

  1. Racism, colorism and the self-identification dilemma

The terms Afro Latino(a)(e) refer to Latin Americans of full or mainly sub-Saharan African ancestry. The terms are deeply rooted in colonial Latin America, yet outside of academic circles, they are mainly used only in the United States, in part because different Latin American countries have other words to describe this population.

According to a report by Pew Research Center titled Who is Hispanic?, the U.S. Latino population reached nearly 64 million in 2022, with 22.1 million single-race Hispanics identifying themselves only as “some other race,” a group that mostly includes those who wrote in a Hispanic origin or nationality as their race. The numbers of Afro Latino adults in the United States are significant – over six million according to the May 2022 Pew Research Center study. However, the Afro Latino identity is a distinct one with about one-in-seven Afro Latinos – or an estimated 800,000 adults – who do not identify as Hispanic.

In an article submitted for a special issue of African American Children’s Literature, titled Afro-Latin@ Representation in Youth Literature: Affirming Afro-Latin@ Cultural Identity, Afro Latinos who do not consider themselves Latino(a) were more likely to identify as Black (59% vs. 17%), which further contextualizes the deep divide among Afro Latinos in the ways in which they choose to identify – but as noted recently by the Washington Post, Afro-Latino politicians could bridge the African American-Latino divide

The fact that Afro Latinos/as don’t fit into a Westernized construct of what it means to be “Black” does not mean they are not Black. And the fact that Afro Latinos(as) don’t fit into a Westernized construct of “Latinidad” doesn’t mean they are not Latino(a). Life experiences of Afro Latinos are shaped by race, skin tone and other factors, in ways that differ from other Latinos – and this matters not only to how identity is reported, but how they are perceived by the public at large. A majority of Latino adults (57%) say skin color shapes their daily life experiences. Similar shares also say having a darker skin color hurts Latinos’ ability to get ahead in the U.S. (62%) and having a lighter skin color helps Latinos get ahead (59%).

A 2019 Pew Research survey highlighted how darker skin color is associated with more frequent experiences of discrimination among Latinos, including people questioning their intelligence, being the subject of jokes and unfair treatment from police. Yet, at the same time, it is important to note that at the intersection of race and ethnicity, there are numerous other vertices such as education level, gender, class, wealth, immigration status, citizenship status, sexuality, and disability, among other factors, which influence a person’s outcomes in a real way.


New York State Assembly Member Karines Reyes, SOMOS Conference Chair and an Afro Latina leader:

“I am delighted Latino Victory Fund has chosen to take up this important discussion. This is so central to my identity. We already have a formidable community of Afro Latinas who would be phenomenal candidates for public office, and it is critical to build these coalitions. Let’s talk about how we reach them, recruit them, and build resources needed to boost this bench.”
  1. Racism, colorism and the self-identification dilemma

A 2022 report by Latinas Represent and the Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP) highlights that Latinas are less than 3% of officeholders elected to statewide executive offices, Congress, and state legislatures. Thus, if we are to elect the first Afro Latina to Congress, we must simultaneously work to build the bench at all levels of office.

The 118th United States Congress is considered the most diverse in history.  There are currently 56 Latino members and for the first time, they make up over 10% of elected representatives – including the first members of Congress who were formerly undocumented immigrants, the first Generation Z member, the first openly LGBTQ+ immigrant, and the first Latinas from Colorado, Illinois and Oregon. Notwithstanding, and despite the tremendous progress – there has never been someone who identifies as Afro Latina elected to Congress. 

  1. The gender gap

A quick glance at the membership of the 118th Congress reveals significant gender disparities at every level, and for almost every race/ethnicity.

House of Representatives:

GenderWhiteBlackLatino/aAAPINative American/Alaska/HawaiiMENATotal

U.S. Senate:

GenderWhiteBlackLatino/aAAPINative American/Alaska/HawaiiMENATotal

Note: Figures for the 118th Congress are listed by the Congressional Research Service as of February 5th, 2024. The data does not include non-voting delegates or commissioners. Members who have more than one racial or ethnic identity for the above groups are counted in each applicable group, accounting for the number of Senators larger than 100. 

These raw numbers list figures for Latinos of any race – including Afro Latinos. With an estimated 6 million Afro Latino U.S. adults and an average 700,000 residents per congressional district, we should expect at least 8 Afro Latino members of congress.  Currently there are only 3— and they are all men.  What we know is that running for office is a challenge. For Latinos, it’s an uphill battle. For Latinas, it’s an “up the mountain” battle. And, for Afro Latinas, it’s proven an impossibility – up until now.

  1. The influence of money in politics

It is a fact that it is harder for women (and people of color) to achieve electoral success for a number of reasons – and the influence of money in politics is definitely one of them.

First, as noted earlier, there is a significant disparity in the number of Afro Latinas in public office. And, as noted in a 2007 study by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), one of the most relevant factors regarding the impediments women face in accessing funds is incumbency. Additionally, the study found that men are more likely to fund other men’s campaigns, while women are more likely to donate to other women. And, since the corporate elite is also male-dominated, the political gender gap continues to grow.

Secondly, candidates of color, including Latinos (and Afro Latinas within that cohort) tend to raise less money than their white counterparts in similar races, due to historic lack of access to wealth within the communities they are campaigning in, and their own lack of personal wealth. Latino/Afro Latinos are more likely to come from working-class backgrounds, putting them at an initial disadvantage for creating a donor base.  Thus, the concern about the influence of money in politics makes it doubly hard for women of color to succeed in electoral politics.

This is not just visible through election results, but also through the public’s perception of electoral politics. Pew Research Center has found that more than 8-in-10 adults believe that the high costs of political campaigns makes it hard for ‘good people’ to run for office. While what constitutes a ‘good’ person is subjective, it does demonstrate not only the disillusionment with political figures that is prevalent amongst the public, but also the widespread recognition of the power of money within the political sphere. 

Below you will find the comparative fundraising (as reported to the FEC) by 7 Afro Latinos – 3 male and 4 female – and their opponents, the first year they ran or were elected to Congress:

YEARCandidate /OfficeAmount Raised / SpentPrimary/GeneralComparative to Opponents
2016Adriano EspaillatNY-13~ $715,000PrimaryWinner – spent 77% of what the closest opponent spent on the race (Keith Wright at ~$925,000)
2018Juana MatiasMA-03~ $560,000PrimaryRanked 4th in a 10-person field of candidates.  Winner raised/spent ~ $1.5m
2020Ritchie TorresNY-15~ $1,500,000PrimaryWinner – spent 50% more than closest opponent on the race (Michael Blake at ~ $1M)
2020Candace ValenzuelaTX-24~ $3,750,000GeneralRanked 2nd in a 5-person field of candidates.  Winner raised ~$3.12M .
2020Kristine Reeves WA-10~$697,000PrimaryRanked 3rd in a 19-person field of candidates. Winner raised ~$1.8M
2022Maxwell FrostFL-10~ $2,300,000PrimaryWinner – overpowered two closest opponents who raised/spent ~$500k & ~$1M respectively.
2023Sabina MatosRI-01~640,000PrimaryRanked 4th in a 12-person field of candidates. Winner raised/spent ~ $730,000

The takeaway from these raw numbers is that on average, Afro Latino candidates can perform well in a wide field, especially among other candidates of color, when it comes to fundraising.  Afro Latinas, on the other hand, find it hard to compete in multi-candidate races and this has a negative impact on their ability to communicate with voters and win. One item of consensus among the women who participated in the roundtable discussions was the fact that asking for financial support is generally viewed negatively within the Latino culture, and especially for women.

  1. Media bias

The Latino community – and Afro Latinas specifically – are no strangers to erasure, limited representation, and negative representation, specifically in news media coverage at national and local levels. While we have made advances in media representation today, Afro Latinos/as have been continuously excluded from these advancements. 

An example of erasure in the media can be illustrated by the fact that the Dominican Republic has the fourth-largest Black population in the global African Diaspora, with an estimated 80% of its population having some African ancestry. Dominicans are also the fifth-largest Hispanic group in the United States, after Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans and Cubans, respectively. Yet they are rarely covered by Latino and U.S. media and are ignored in national politics. 

In addition to erasure, Afro Latinos/as are also negatively affected by the prevalence of negative coverage in the news. According to Pew Research Center, almost two-thirds of Black adults (63%) say news about Black people is often more negative than news about other racial and ethnic groups, while a study from the Berkeley Media Studies Group and Unidos US found that “​​Latinos are barely part of the conversation in newspapers and online media outlets covering the issue of racial equity and racism…Only about 6% of such news referred to Latinos, who make up nearly 20% of the American population and over 40% of all people of color.” 

The limited representation coupled with the fact that the little representation given is frequently negative portrayals of both the Black and Latino communities, results in deterrence from running for political office. According to Psychology Today, underrepresentation and erasure in popular media may contribute to a lack of self-esteem and confidence in Afro Latinos/as to a stronger degree as it has been found that positive representation helps boost self-esteem in other marginalized groups.

This dynamic played out vividly in the case of Rhode Island Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, who received negative media coverage and suffered from a campaign error committed by a consultant.  In re-telling her experience, the Lt. Governor was very candid about her initial hesitation in running for the seat, regret about not investing more significantly in her field operations (“the ground game”), and how the “media narrative bandwagon” hurt her campaign despite high name recognition within the district and a 22-point lead in an initial poll of the race. 


Sabina Matos, Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor:

“Running for office requires not only the experience and dedication to serve your community— it requires grit and support from people who have been there before. Afro Latinas Lead will help dismantle the obstacles Afro Latinas face when we run for office and fill critical gaps in resources and recruitment. This program has the potential to transform the political landscape by growing the candidate pipeline and helping more Afro Latinas reach elected office.  As a past candidate, I have first-hand experience with the barriers this new project will tear down, which is why I am committed to supporting Latino Victory Fund and Afro Latinas Lead.” 
  1. Intimidation

Another barrier to representation is the systematic intimidation of elected officials of color. According to a study conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice, not only have 43 percent of state legislators and 18 percent of local officeholders experienced an increasing amount of threats in the past several years, but officeholders of color were three times as likely than white officeholders to be threatened, and women and people of color were more likely to be threatened using their family than other officeholders. This places Afro Latinas as one of the most vulnerable populations to run for office, which makes candidacy a decision that requires another level of consideration not usually discussed when people are deciding to run for office. 

  1. Latino Voting Power

A 2022 study by Pew Research Center estimated 34.5 million Hispanic Americans were eligible to vote, making Latinos the fastest-growing racial and ethnic group in the U.S. electorate since the last midterm elections. The number of Hispanic eligible voters has increased by 4.7 million since 2018, representing 62% of the total growth in U.S. eligible voters during this time.  By 2024, the number of Latino eligible voters is expected to grow by over 5 million (as compared to 2020) through a combination of young people aging into the electorate and newly naturalized citizens.

However, we know well that growth in the eligible electorate does not automatically translate into proportional political power. The same study indicates that only a narrow majority of Latinos in the U.S. are eligible to vote. A little over half of all Latinos (53%) were eligible to vote in 2020, an increase from 50% in 2018. But the share varies widely by state. Latinos are considerably less likely than Americans overall to be eligible to vote (53% vs. 72%). This is partly because the nation’s Latino population includes a large number of people who are too young to vote or who are not U.S. citizens. 

Key facts about Hispanic eligible voters in 2024

  • An estimated 36.2 million are eligible to vote this year, up from 32.3 million in 2020. This represents 50% of the total growth in eligible voters during this time.
  • A narrow majority of Latinos in the U.S. are eligible to vote. Over half of all Latinos (53%) were eligible to vote in 2022.
  • 29% of Latinos are under 18, compared with 22% of the U.S. overall.
  • 19% of Latinos are not U.S. citizens, compared with 6% of the total U.S. population.

Afro Latinos are also highly centralized within the United States, along the Atlantic coast and major cities within the East Coast according to a study by UCLA’s Latino Policy & Politics Institute. This centralization may support electing Afro Latinos at the local level and a pipeline of potential candidates, but until that pipeline is developed, it has hindered the ability to elect the first Afro Latina to Congress.


After reviewing these challenges, the goals of the Afro Latinas Lead initiative are to:

  • Build the pipeline by identifying, recruiting and supporting viable Afro Latina candidates to run for public office in the 2024 election and beyond;
  • Elevate the profile and voices of Afro Latina leaders around the country;
  • Create visibility around the lack of Afro Latina representation in politics and public office; and
  • Once in office, ensure Afro Latinas are successful by creating a network of support.

In order to accomplish our goals, we expect to engage a number of audiences. Latino Victory has already identified a formidable community of Afro Latinas who would be phenomenal candidates for public office, and it is critical to build coalitions, which are central to our identity of advancing our community’s political power.

More specifically, Afro Latinas Lead will serve as a public commitment by Latino Victory and its partnering organizations to effectuate change through a strategic action plan, which includes:

  1. Investing in research and data to develop real-time strategies and messaging;
  2. Recruitment of Afro Latina candidates for office at all levels of government;
  3. Training candidates and staff through our Path to Victory program, with the goal of enlisting 50 Afro Latinas by June 2025;
  4. Supporting candidates financially through direct contributions, fundraising and independent expenditures;
  5. Increasing Afro Latina candidates’ visibility through direct media exposure;
  6. Building a national support network of Afro Latina leaders; and
  7. Expanding Latino voter participation in key districts to help Afro Latinas win.
  1. Research

In order to begin building the pipeline to elect Afro Latinas to Congress, and public office at all levels, it is vital to address the lack of research on the Afro Latina population. The historic homogenization of the Latino community is what helped fortify this separation of the different races that are all part of the fabric of our community. The disaggregation of data is essential to building up Afro Latina candidates, as it will allow for the formation of strategies that will address and break down the barriers that Afro Latinas face within the political sphere. 

The expansion of data on Afro Latinas provides a basis for our plan of action, which is why we began this process with a series of roundtable discussions – providing a window to the real experiences of Afro Latinas running for office.  However, this qualitative data must be backed by quantitative data as well. 

In the coming months, Latino Victory will work with partners to identify and build funding for such research, to increase our collective efficiency and viability when developing policy, electoral initiatives and messaging. This work will potentially include: 

  • Live telephone polling and online surveys
  • Focus groups similar to the previously held roundtable discussions
  • Post-election in-depth reviews

Additionally, we will invite Afro Latina candidates to film short interviews for digital media to highlight obstacles they face in seeking public office. It is this data-driven approach in which collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of numerical and anecdotal data, will provide the insights to achieve our goals.

  1. Recruitment

In order to have more Afro Latinas elected to public office, we need to have more Afro Latinas running for public office. Despite representing about 9.3% of the population, Latinas serve in less than 3% of elected statewide executive offices, Congress and state legislatures. Currently, there is only one Latina serving in the U.S. Senate and just three Latina mayors in the 100 most populous U.S. cities.  This is why the Afro Latinas Lead initiative is a focused approach within Latino Victory’s First Latinas program to elect more Latinas up and down the ballot, including Afro Latinas.

According to ​UCLA’s study on centering black Latinidad, while California and Texas have the  largest Latino populations, Afro Latinos are primarily concentrated along the East Coast within major cities – specifically within places where there is also a large Black population. In Massachusetts, for instance,13.2% of Latinos identify as Afro-Latinx, the highest share of any state. Pennsylvania (11.7%), New York (10.7%), Washington, DC (10.5%), and New Hampshire (9.8%), which round out the five states with the highest Afro-Latinx population shares. In absolute terms, the largest number of Afro Latinos live in New York (397,000), followed by California (237,000) and Florida (232,000). Notably, cities with large proportions of self-identifying Afro Latino residents also tend to have large Black populations. In most cities presented here, the Black population share is larger than the Latino population share – which is why identity is important as we recruit candidates to build the bench.

Some of the barriers identified by Afro Latinas participants in the Latino Victory roundtables this past year include many of the items we’ve already outlined in the research and the challenge:

  • Afro Latinas don’t see themselves running
  • They fear being their “authentic selves” and they are aware of the identity issue with respect to diversity within the Latino community
  • They fear there is no space or the conversation – and naming the problem – so they are grateful to Latino Victory for raising awareness
  • They are concerned about bias in the media and how their lives could be upended with negative publicity over issues that white and/or male candidates wouldn’t be called on.

The Afro Latinas Lead initiative thus will work to identify Afro Latina candidates across the country, particularly in states and cities with the largest Latino populations, but also throughout other communities where we can expand Latino political power by uplifting Afro Latina leaders – and giving them the support and encouragement to run – and win. In order to accomplish this, Latino Victory will:

  • Host sessions with partner organizations to identify, recruit and train potential candidates. 
  • Lead conversations with current Afro-Latina/Black Latina electeds to public  office who might be interested in running for higher office.
  • Launch digital assets and ad campaigns to promote candidate search and First Latinas splash page.
  • Map out Afro-Latina community leaders and elected officials and identify priority districts 


Congressman Adriano Espaillat, NY-13:

“Somos muchos y queremos más.”
  1. Candidate Training 

Representation matters, but we know that running for office is an uphill battle, particularly for women of color. Yet, training programs have proven to be immensely valuable to political candidates and their staff, particularly women of color, as they provide the tools and confidence that candidates need to run successful campaigns.

Latino Victory has a nearly ten-year record of creating impactful change at the local, state, and federal levels – and, running campaigns is an organizational core strength since the team brings decades of experience running successful digital (multi-platform), radio (terrestrial/streaming), TV (linear/advanced), direct mail, earned media, and field efforts in support of a diverse group of candidates across the country. 

We are here to address the structural barriers to running for office, and for that reason Latino Victory has worked with the National Democratic Training Committee to design Path To Victory – a two-day training program that takes place over two days, covering the following:

  • Candidate 101: Win Number Calculation & Basic Campaign Plan / Field Terminology & Basic Field Plan / Finance Terminology, Budgeting, & Basic Finance Plan and Database / Developing Personal Story & Basic Communications Plan / Campaign Checklist
  • Fundraising Skill Building: Fundraising Tactics & Best Practices; Tools for creating a personal contact and fundraising database /Tools for tracking donations vs budget/expenditures over time / Donor Research / Call Time / Finance Reports and Deadlines
  • Operations & Cyber Security: Payroll, Human Resources, Office Management, Event Basics, and Candidate Management / Hiring vs Volunteer Recruitment / Project Management Tool
  • Communications and Media: General Rules of Messaging, Candidate-specific Messaging, Press Interviews, Social Media, Dealing with Negative Comments, Rapid-Response

Building on our accomplishment of recruiting and training nearly 100 candidates last year, we are back on the road in 2024 for our signature Path to Victory training.  Our next stop is  in New York City on March 22nd & 23rd, which will be followed by 4 additional trainings across the country.  In total, Latino Victory seeks to graduate at least 50 women through the program by June 2025.  

  1. Financial and Political Support

As noted earlier in this document, campaign finance plays a huge role in elections – and has been demonstrated to have played a role in the previous losses of Afro Latina candidates. We know it takes lots of money to win elections, which is why Latino Victory’s commitment is centered on supporting Afro Latina candidates at every level of campaign finance with direct candidate contributions, engaging donors and allies in fundraising for individual candidates, and independent expenditures.

At the same time, we know that there are other areas of support critical to a candidate’s success, which is why Latino Victory support for candidates may include any combination of the following:

  • Financial Support:
    • Direct contribution to the campaign
    • Candidate contribution link on Latino Victory website
    • Organizational hosted fundraiser (on a case by case basis)
    • Independent expenditure (on a case by case basis)
  • Political Support:
    • Latino Victory staff embedded with the campaign – LV staff has regular check-in calls with campaign team and may be deployed on the ground (on a case by case basis)
    • Latino Victory may host GOTV activities with partners
    • Latino Victory to provide candidate national stakeholder counsel 
  1. Earned and Paid Media

The historic erasure of Afro Latinos, and Afro Latinas specifically, has been a major barrier to electing Afro Latinas to political bodies. The Afro Latinas Lead initiative will combat this phenomenon by amplifying our participants’ earned and paid media, and giving participants the training they need to elevate their public profile, while creating a positive impact on the issues that matter to the Latino community. 

The amplification of Afro Latina candidates will both mobilize Afro Latino voters, while inspiring the next generation of Afro Latina candidates. The media plays a powerful role in elections, and it is necessary that Afro Latinas are given the tools necessary to make sure that they are not overshadowed in the coverage of their campaigns.

 Thus, Latino Victory will provide communications/digital support to candidates by executing on the following:

  • Endorsement roll-out story and digital amplification
  • Latino Victory staff proactively pitches the candidate
  • Access to Latino Victory for media training & communications guidance
  • Digital amplification of candidate
  1. Building a national support network

The Afro Latinas Lead initiative will open opportunities for connections within the political sphere for each of our candidates, providing the skills and resources necessary to build not only a donor and voter base, but also an engaged and informed support network of leaders to provide rapid response if major issues arise within the campaign.

In order to accomplish this, we will overlay synergies with other partner organizations and Latino Victory programs, such as Path To Victory, since we know that the networks built and maintained by cohort-based women’s candidate training programs provide benefits such as mentorship and fundraising assistance,  which will give a leg up to all participants.

As part of this process, Latino Victory will:

  • Announce candidates as they are identified and create media peaks around candidacy milestones 
  • Host regular in-person events or convenings with Afro-Latina elected and appointed officials and candidates to continue creating momentum for the initiative and highlighting the need for Afro Latina representation 
  • Execute a plan to recruit volunteers and contributions to support endorsed candidates

Post-election, our Afro Latina Blueprint for Action calls upon continued engagement to provide a safety net for Afro Latina leaders that can help alleviate the intimidation they face, building both confidence and strength to start and build their political careers. This network can also highlight the disproportionality of the intimidation and harm that Afro Latina candidates face due to their intersecting identities and amplify methods to ensure the safety of Afro Latina political candidates through protective measures as well as measures to address the underlying causes of this intimidation. 

  1. Expand Latino Voter Participation Efforts

Latino Victory’s theory of change is that when Latinos are on the ballot, Latinos come out to vote because Latino candidates invest in early, consistent, and aggressive campaign outreach to Latinos. And, as recently noted in Newsweek,  successful outreach to the Latino community involves more than just recognizing its diversity, “anyone running for office must make long-term investments to win over the trust—and, ultimately, the faith of millions of Latino voters looking for bold leadership to live out the American Dream.” Still, more importantly, Latino candidates speak about issues resonating enough to persuade Latinos to not only vote, but to vote for them. 

In the last two even-year elections, Latino Victory endorsed close to 90 candidates each cycle while continuously building a pipeline of Latinos in key states ready to run for office in 2024.  This year we expect to grow Latino voter turnout by:

  • Endorsing and supporting at least 80 Latino candidates at the Federal, State and Local levels in key states, in both Primary and General elections.
  • Doubling down on Latino voter turnout tactics in key states where Latinos can have an impact on the Presidential election.
  • Expanding Latino voter engagement and participation efforts such as Vote Like a Madre, which is a signature program to encourage adults to make a promise to children to vote for candidates who have prioritized climate change in their platforms.

Across 19 policy issues, including the economy, inflation, small business, healthcare, abortion, gun violence, education, and immigration, Latino voters have more confidence in Democrats by double-digit margins. Thus, Latino Victory will also spend significant resources this year in developing research and growing partnerships to support data-driven campaign-winning messages on important issues impacting the Latino community.


The Afro Latinas Lead program is about real representation in every sense of the matter. It isn’t just focused on electing leaders who look like us, but leaders who truly understand our experiences, champion us in the halls of power, and use their platform to implement policy changes that benefit our communities.  As we advance through the 2024 election cycle and beyond, Latino Victory renews its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion of the Latino community.  We are here to address the structural barriers for Afro Latina candidates. Afro Latinas Lead will serve as a public commitment by Latino Victory and its partnering organizations to effectuate change through a strategic action plan.

This plan will include: investing in research and data to develop real-time strategies and messages; recruitment of Afro Latina candidates for office at all levels of government; training candidates and staff through our Path to Victory program, with the goal of enlisting 50 Afro Latinas by June 2025; supporting candidates financially through direct contributions, fundraising and independent expenditures; increasing Afro Latina candidates’ visibility through direct media exposure; building a national support network of Afro Latina leaders; and expanding Latino voter participation in key districts to help Afro Latinas win.

Together, we will enhance Afro Latina representation and help to build a more representative government for all Americans.

Latino Victory Staff

Sindy M. Benavides, President & CEO

Katharine Pichardo-Erskine, Executive Director

Jayleen Caban, Special Projects Intern

Silvina Alarcón, Director of Campaigns

María del Rosario González, Director of Operations

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