Today I came across two cool articles regarding two Madison Latina leaders who are retiring from their respective jobs. As I settle into my new community, it’s cool to see the number of Latinos and Latinas that have already blazed the trail for others.
Debra Amesqua is retiring after 15 years as the City of Madison’s Fire Chief. The daughter of migrant workers from Jalisco, Mexico, Fire Chief Amesqua demonstrated perseverance throughout her tenure, especially after a tumultuous start:
When Amesqua took over as chief in 1996, she was criticized for being an outsider to the department, for having only 13 years of firefighting experience and for lacking a college degree. Her critics dismissed her as an affirmative action hire and claimed the other finalists for the job were more qualified. At her swearing-in, one of her most vocal critics, firefighter, fundamentalist preacher and anti-gay activist Ron Greer, sat at the back of the room holding a sign with Amesqua’s name and a line crossing it out.
Dr. Yolanda Garza spent 26 years working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as the “academic cop” in the dean of student’s office. In short, she was the enforcer of student academic behavior at a world-class University of 40,000 + students. Active in the University’s Latino/a Faculty Staff Association (LAFSA), Dr. Garza was also an advisor to the Multicultural Council.