Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

This Hispanic Heritage Month, WWCDA celebrates the Hispanic and Latinx women who have blazed trails for women of all backgrounds and advanced the cause of equal justice under the law. We especially want to recognize the three trailblazers below. 

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She is only the third woman, and the first woman of color, first Hispanic, and first Latina member of the Court. Hailing from the Bronx, New York, Justice Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University summa cum laude and earned a J.D. from Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. From 1979-1984, she served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office. She then joined the law firm Pavia & Harcourt, where she served as an associate and then partner. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and she served in that role from 1992-1998. She served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998-2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role August 8, 2009.

Mari Carmen Aponte

Catherine Cortez Masto

Born in Puerto Rico, Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte’s family stressed the importance of education to her at a very young age. One of only 180 Puerto Ricans enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school, Ambassador Aponte attended Temple University School of Law and became the first Latina lawyer in Pennsylvania. Ambassador Aponte was appointed to the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission, where she helped bring more women and Hispanics to the D.C. bench. In 2010, President Obama appointed Mari Carmen Aponte as ambassador to El Salvador, the first Latina lawyer to hold the position and the first Puerto Rican woman to be appointed as an ambassador. Aponte is a recipient of the 2015 Margaret Brent Awards.


Miriam Naveira Merly

Judge Irma Gonzalez was the first Latina of Mexican heritage to be appointed to the Federal Bench, serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in 1992. Judge Gonzalez retired from the federal bench in 2013, previously serving as Chief Judge of the District Court from 2005 to 2012. She is a founding member of Latinas in the Law, which was established in 2005 to mentor young Latina lawyers and law students, promote the advancement of Latinas as legal professional, provide opportunity for personal growth and development, and serve as role models for children in the community. In 2021 she was awarded with the ABA Margaret Brent Award.