‘Up and coming leaders’: LUPE organizations empower Latina women in New Jersey

What started as an organization with a goal to train Latina women how to run for office, has now evolved to that and much more.
Kerly Guerrero was born in Ecuador and moved to Newark when she was just 4 years old.
“I come from very humble beginnings. My parents worked as construction workers and house cleaners. So, growing up, I really didn’t have a lot of guidance,” she says.
Years later, Guerrero is now a Seton Hall University graduate and a LUPE Fund Young Latina Scholarship recipient.
“It’s what helped me finish my last year of school and then go into medical school,” she says.
“We are trying to get more Latinos, not just to be civically involved, but also to become leaders,” says LUPE Fund Vice President Iveth Mosquera.
The LUPE Fund is a 501c3. It has given out tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to young Latina women.
“We really look at young women who are up and coming leaders, who’ve done so many things in their own community, who stand out because they took matters into their own hands. And they really stepped up,” Mosquera says.
LUPE stands for Latinas United for Political Empowerment. The original LUPE organization began in the early 2000s. That is when Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina got involved.
"It's been a labor of love. Figuring out how Latinas can have power for our community," says Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina. "We said we needed to organize ourselves so that we can push more political representation. I joined them wholeheartedly."
Dr. Campos-Medina is a former president of LUPE PAC. She is now the president of LUPE Inc.— LUPE's overall umbrella organization overseeing organizations LUPE Action and LUPE PAC. LUPE Action and LUPE PAC are bipartisan programs training Latinas how to run for office and supporting them when they do.
"We believe that the only way Latinos will build power is that we are represented in all in all areas of government and in both political parties," Dr. Campos-Medina says.
The LUPE message of empowering young Latina women is still represented in separate organization LUPE Fund. LUPE Fund, an independent 501c3 focuses on education and granting young Latinas, like Guerrero, scholarships.
“Having that network and support of women who look like you and come from the same background as you and can continue to support you definitely does bring up one's confidence,” Guerrero says of her experience with LUPE Fund.
After graduating from Rutgers Medical School, Guerrero now spends most of her time at University Hospital. Her title is now Dr. Kerly Guerrero and she serves an OBGYN in the same community where she grew up.
“I remember when I was a patient here and when my family members were a patients here, that was super important to us. To have people that look like us and spoke our language, and I wanted to provide that service to my community,” Guerrero says.
Success for Guerrero is one step forward for Latina women in New Jersey.
For more information on the Young Latina Scholarship, visit LUPE Fund here.
For more information about LUPE PAC, click here.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article identified Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina as the current president of LUPE Fund. Dr. Campos-Medina is a former President of LUPE PAC and current president of LUPE Inc. This article has been updated accordingly.