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Betty Francisco and Eneida Roman

Building power in Massachusetts’s Latino community

Betty Francisco
Betty FranciscoLane Turner/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Betty Francisco was working as general counsel at a fitness company. Her friend Eneida Roman had her own law practice. Both were doing all they could to mentor younger women of color. But neither felt like they had mentors of their own — seasoned hands who could advise and champion them. So they decided to form a group of Latina professionals who would champion each other. Starting with a series of cafecitos, or “little coffees,” Francisco and Roman built one of the most important networking organizations in Massachusetts’s fast-growing Latino community.

The Latina Circle has trained women in salary negotiation and pushed to get more Latinas into positions of influence — in the business world and on government boards and commissions. “We could see there was a lot of talent,” Francisco says. “But oftentimes, it was not very visible to those who could open a door for them.”

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A spin-off called Amplify Latinx, started after the 2016 election, is working to build Latino political and economic power. That means registering voters, encouraging volunteerism, and connecting Latino-owned businesses to technical assistance — and to each other.

Roman says colleagues from around the country have taken notice. “Right now we’re focused on Massachusetts,” she says. “But our big picture goal is, who knows, maybe we go national?”


David Scharfenberg can be reached at david.scharfenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe.