Janet Murguia Latina Trailblazers 2017 Honoree
LatinoJustice PRLDEF chooses a cohort of Latina trailblazers whose groundbreaking accomplishments illuminate new paths for Latinas nationwide. The 2017 honorees fully represent the diversity and achievement of the Latina professional experience. Janet Murguia, President & CEO at National Council of La Raza is one of the four Latina Trailblazers for 2017. You can meet the other trailblazers and find out more about the event here.
As someone who has experienced the promise of the American Dream firsthand, Janet Murguía has devoted her career in public service to opening the door to that dream to millions of American families. Now, as a key figure among the next generation of leaders in the Latino community, she continues this mission as President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.
Since 2005, Murguía has sought to strengthen NCLR’s work and enhance its record of impact as a vital American institution. One of her first priorities was to harness the power of the nation’s 50 million Hispanics and improve opportunities for Latino families by strengthening the partnership between NCLR and its network of nearly 300 community-based Affiliates which serve millions of people in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Murguía has also sought to strengthen the Latino voice on issues affecting the Hispanic community such as education, health care, immigration, civil rights, the economy, and the rise of hate rhetoric and hate crimes targeting the Latino community. In her role as NCLR’s spokesperson, she has appeared on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, NBC’s Today, CNN’s Larry King Live, PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, and CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight.
Murguía has placed special emphasis on turning Latino growth into empowerment through the Latino vote. In the 2008 election, NCLR along with its partners helped register nearly 200,000 new Hispanic voters. Other initiatives and partnerships helped more than 1.5 million eligible immigrants apply for citizenship.
She has also focused on strengthening NCLR’s relationships with its sister civil rights and advocacy organizations, spearheading efforts to build bridges between the African American and Latino communities in conjunction with organizations such as the NAACP
and the National Urban League. She was the first Hispanic leader to give the keynote speech at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast in Birmingham, Alabama.
The visibility of Latinos in the media has been a key concern for Murguía. Through her efforts to secure a host of new partners and resources, the NCLR ALMA Awards® returned to television in 2006 after a three-year hiatus as part of NCLR’s strategy to promote fair, accurate, and balanced portrayals of Latinos in the entertainment industry.
Murguía currently sits on the board of directors of the Partnership for a Healthier America, Raza Development Fund, Achieve, and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility. She also sits on the executive committee of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Murguía has been recognized on numerous occasions for her work. She has been selected twice as one of Washingtonian magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women in Washington” and featured in Newsweek magazine’s “Women and Leadership” issue. She has been chosen as one of the NonProfit Times’ “Power and Influence Top 50” leaders, named to People en Español’s “100 Most Influential Hispanics,” and selected as one of Hispanic Business magazine’s “100 Most Influential Hispanics,” Hispanic magazine’s “Powerful Latinos,” Latino Leaders magazine’s “101 Top Leaders of the Hispanic Community,” and Poder magazine’s “The Poderosos 100.” In 2005, she received the University of Kansas (KU) Law Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus/na Award.
She began her career in Washington, DC as legislative counsel to former Kansas Congressman Jim Slattery. She then worked at the White House from 1994 to 2000, ultimately serving as deputy assistant to President Clinton, providing strategic and legislative advice to the president on key issues. She served as deputy director of legislative affairs, managing the legislative staff and acting as a senior White House liaison to Congress. She then served as deputy campaign manager and director of constituency outreach for the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign. In 2001, Murguía joined the University of Kansas as executive vice chancellor for university relations, overseeing KU’s internal and external relations with the public, including governmental and public affairs.
Janet Murguía grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. She received three degrees from KU: a BS degree in journalism (1982), a BA degree in Spanish (1982), and a JD degree (1985) from the School of Law. In 2011 she received an honorary degree—Doctor of Humane Letters—from California State University, Dominguez Hills.