Latino Victory Project celebrates first anniversary.
You know her from the hit TV show “Desperate Housewives,” but acting was never Eva Longoria‘s true calling. “I stumbled upon acting and thought, this is great because I can use this platform for what I really want to do which is my philanthropy,” she told a packed crowd at the Hamilton Live on Monday night, where her Latino Victory Project‘s “Latino Talks” event was sold out.
Along with fellow co-founder Henry R. Munoz III and Latino leaders including HUD Secretary Julián Castro and NBC UNIVERSO’s Yarel Ramos, guests celebrated the one-year anniversary of the organization committed to helping Latinos win election to local, state and federal offices.
“This, the most Latino Congress ever, still needs about three times as many elected Latinos to be commensurate with our share of the population,” said Latino Victory Foundation president Cristobal Alex in his opening remarks. “What that means is that our voice is absent from the most important decisions of our time, decisions that impact our communities and our families like immigration, education, the economy and especially the environment. We’re absent from those conversations if we’re not at the table.”
“Let me put it a different way,” he said. “If we’re not at the table, we’re probably on the menu.”
Longoria and Castro had an easy rapport, answering questions that ranged from serious to more lighthearted. At one point Longoria disclosed her love for eighties music and poked fun at Castro’s taste in music, speculating that he listened to “The Thong Song.”
Longoria discussed volunteering with her family from an early age and the importance of setting an example for your children, especially when it comes to education, as “education is still the most important thing for economic mobility.” Many Latinos don’t hear the word ‘college’ until high school, she said, and at that point it’s too late.
“You cannot be what you cannot see,” she said. “I really think that if we have more parental engagement in our families early on, we can really make a dent in making sure our community gets to that higher education.”
Longoria also spoke of Latinas in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), the subject of her Master’s thesis.
“In most STEM fields, only three percent are women and of that three percent, only one percent are Latinas,” she said. “We need them more in the field.”
Castro also spoke on education as a priority.
“The challenges in our community run the gamut but it’s fair to say that it starts with educational opportunity for our families,” Castro said. “Education is the number one way that we can improve from one generation to the next but oftentimes our young people live in neighborhoods where they’re not given that opportunity and where the schools aren’t as good as we would like them to be. If I could have one thing for our community it would be for universal pre-k to come to pass in the United States.”
The discussion wrapped up with a surprise for Longoria, as Alex walked out with her portrait that will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery, recognizing her for her leadership.
In addition to the Latino Victory Project, her Eva Longoria Foundation helps Latinas succeed through education and entrepreneurship.