This week’s #WomanCrushWednesday goes out to Serena Cruz, Executive Director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation and the first Latina ever elected to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners (also the youngest woman), Serena Cruz.
Serena Cruz is passionate about making a difference, particularly for the most vulnerable people in our community, because she grew up as one. Her mom started crossing the border between the US and Mexico when she was just 12 years old, as an undocumented immigrant – she eventually became a citizen. Serena’s dad’s parents and siblings were migrant farmworkers in California – they moved to Oregon when Serena was four years old. Consequently, the importance of stable affordable housing, well-supported schools, and the love of family is deeply ingrained in this driven Latinx leader! Serena firmly believes we don’t become who we are without people who nurture the best in us and she’s grateful to her parents for believing in her, even if they didn’t always know how to help her achieve her dreams. She’s also grateful to the folks who DID know – like the college administrators and professors who became personally vested in her success, and lawmakers like Eric Sten, who encouraged her to run for office at the age of 29. Serena is the very first Latina and the youngest woman ever elected to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. She was an integral part of the fight for marriage equality nearly two decades ago, along with colleagues Maria Rojo de Steffey, Lisa Naito and Diane Linn – remember when Multnomah County started issuing marriage licenses in 2004? Serena is proud to have been right there at the forefront, standing tall with her colleagues who share her belief that everyone deserves to make a legal commitment to the person they love.
Serena is currently the Executive Director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation – one of our beloved long-term clients! Under her leadership, she doubled private donations to the foundation, from one million to two million dollars, annually. She also led a successful $7.3 million capital campaign. Serena is also a board member of the Oregon Historical Society and a trustee of the Collins Foundation.
Serena Cruz is a proud mom to her awesome, thoughtful and compassionate daughter Esperanza – from whom she learns a lot! Esperanza is currently teaching her mom about the impact of cows and pigs on our environment – she’s encouraging her mom to make food choices more aligned with their values. As a typical outdoorsy Oregonian, the environment is very important to Serena – she’s an avid biker, camper, angler and hiker and loves exploring all that our beautiful state has to offer!
#WCW #Leadership #Equality #DoGoodBeGood