Joanna Burgos is a young Latina in a party that is known for its ongoing problems with Hispanic and female voters. But that’s not stopping her from being part of the Republicans’ solution.
“I’m not the only one,” Burgos smiled when she was asked about how many other Hispanic women were involved in GOP these days. When Burgos was getting started in her career in the President George W. Bush administration, she looked to other women including former White House spokespersons Nicole Guillemard and Maria Tamburri for professional guidance.
Now Burgos, 32, is an up-and-coming campaign strategist, co-founder of a non-profit group that seeks to encourage Cuban youth, as well as the wife and a mother of a nearly two year-old daughter.
“It’s unfair for people to think it will never be solved,” Burgos said about Republican problems with Hispanic voters. “Instead of just being angry, people like me have added responsibility to educate our colleagues on how to engage Hispanics in politics,” she explained.
Even though Bush became a polarizing president within and outside the GOP, Burgos believes the former governor of Texas set the party on the right track with Hispanic voters because it was a natural part of doing business for him. “If we had continued that effort, we would be in a lot better place today,” she added. Now it will take a more conscious effort from party leadership, dedicated resources, and getting more Hispanic Republicans elected to office, to get the party back on the right track with Latinos, according to Burgos.
Burgos’s current job is to get more Republicans of all colors, shapes, and sizes elected to office.
In 2011, she became deputy communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is in charge of holding the GOP’s majority in the House. In early 2012, she moved to directing the committee’s independent expenditure unit, where she managed over $64 million in spending in dozens of races across the country.
During that transition, she gave birth to her daughter Alicia and began life as a working mom.
“During the last two months, he was a single dad two to three nights a week,” said Burgos about her husband Alex, communications director for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R., and their family’s balancing act before last fall’s elections. Without a re-election race and with four kids of his own, Rubio was an understanding boss.
Now Burgos works at OnMessage Inc, one of the top Republican consulting firms in the country. She works with candidates and incumbents for the House, Senate, and governor to develop and implement media and digital strategies as well as doing general consulting and assisting with focus groups.
While she is committed to helping more Republicans get elected to office, Burgos also has a passion for encouraging Latinos inside and out of politics.
Burgos co-founded Roots of Hope (Raices de Esperanza) when she was a sophomore in college at the University of Florida to build a bridge between young Cubans on and off the island. It was also a way to connect young people with a past heritage that was more difficult than their current situation.
“Cuban guilt is worse than Catholic guilt,” Burgos explained. Young people with Cuban roots have been drilled with stories of oppression by their older family members. But that often created a cultural disconnect and even a level of apathy. Burgos wanted to help change that dynamic.
Even though she is still growing in her own career, Burgos can already see the importance of not being pigeonholed as the token Hispanic spokesperson. “You can do more,” she said.
And that’s exactly what Burgos is doing.