Florida's Hispanic Leaders

Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Carlos Lopez-Cantera is the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Florida.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera was born in Madrid, Spain on December 29, 1973. Lopez-Cantera graduated from Miami-Dade College and continued his studies at the University of Miami, where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration.

From 2004 through 2012, Carlos served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. Carlos served as Majority Whip from 2009 through 2010 and as the Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives during the final two years of his term from 2010 through 2012.

In August 2012, the citizens of Miami-Dade County elected Carlos Lopez-Cantera as the Property Appraiser of Miami-Dade County. Carlos Lopez-Cantera was appointed Lieutenant Governor on January 14, 2014, and officially began serving on February 3, 2014. He is the first Hispanic to hold this position in Florida.

Carlos has been married to his wife Renee since 2005 and they have two young daughters.

U.S. Florida Senators

Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio is the junior United States Senator from Florida. He was first elected to this position in November 2010 and began serving in January 2011. Prior to becoming a United State Senator, Marco Rubio was the first Cuban-American to serve as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (2007 to 2009).  Senator Rubio, a Miami native, is a graduate of the University of Florida and University of Miami School of Law.

Mel Martinez

Melquiades Rafael Martinez Ruiz, most commonly known as Mel Martinez, is the first Cuban-American to serve in the United States Senate (2005-2009). He also served as the chairman of the Republican National Committee, becoming the first Latino to serve as chairman of a major party. Under President George W. Bush, Senator Martinez was the 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. Florida Representatives

Carlos Curbelo, Republican (Florida (CD-26))

Carlos Curbelo pushed out Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat, from Florida's Congressional District 26 House seat. A Miami-Dade County school board member, he also founded a political consulting firm, Capital Gains. He was supported in his campaign by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is looking more and more as though he'll be making a 2016 presidential run. A son of Cuban exiles, Curbelo stood at odds during the campaign with Garcia's support for relaxing trade restrictions with Cuba, so the upcoming fight over Obama's recent Cuba initiative is sure to figure on his agenda. According to his school board bio, Curbelo founded Center Court Charities, a non-profit group that runs basketball leagues for students in the summer.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

From Florida’s 27th congressional district, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen started serving in the United States House of Representatives in 1989. Born in Havana, Cuba, she is the first Hispanic woman and first Cuban-American to be elected to Congress. Prior to serving as a Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen served in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate.

Joe Garcia

Congressman Joe Garcia serves the 26th congressional district of Florida, which encompasses most of western Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. Congressman Garcia is the former executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation and was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact and Diversity of the United States Department of Energy. Congressman Garcia, a Miami Beach native, is a graduate of Miami Dade College and the University of Miami School of Law.

Mario Diaz-Balart

Serving the 25th congressional district of Florida, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart represents the southwestern part of Miami-Dade County and a large portion of the Everglades. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2003. Prior to serving as a congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart served in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. He was born in Ft. Lauderdale, FL to the late Cuban politician, Rafael Diaz-Balart, and attended the University of South Florida.

Lincoln Diaz-Balart

Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart served Florida’s 21st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2011. Prior to his service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Diaz-Balart served in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. He was born in Havana, Cuba to the late Cuban politician, Rafael Diaz-Balart.

Florida Supreme Court

Jorge Labarga

The Honorable Jorge Labarga began his legal career as an Assistant Public Defender in West Palm Beach and later joined the State Attorney's Office in the same circuit. He was then appointed to the Circuit Court of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit and later to the Fourth District Court of Appeal. In 2009, he was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court, where he serves as the 84th Justice to take office. On June 30, 2014, he was sworn in as Florida's 56th Chief Justice and the first person of Hispanic descent to lead the state's judicial branch. Justice Labarga was born in Cuba and is a graduate of the University of Florida where he received his B.A. and J.D.

Raoul Cantero

Former Justice Raoul G. Cantero, III was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in 2002 and is the first Justice of Hispanic descent to sit on the Court. During his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court, Justice Cantero was the chair of the Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism. Before his appointment, he was a shareholder and head of the Appellate Division of the law firm of Adorno & Yoss in Miami. Justice Cantero born in Madrid, Spain to Cuban parents, is a graduate of Florida State University and Harvard Law School.

Florida Senators

Florida Representatives

Florida Legislators

  • Rep. Bryan Avila
  • Rep. John Cortes
  • Rep. Julio Gonzalez
  • Rep. Dave Kerner
  • Rep. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia

Florida Notables

Columba Bush, Former First Lady

Columba Bush is a Mexican-born American philanthropist. She is the wife of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. She has been active in promoting the arts. In 1999 she worked with Arts for a Complete Education/Florida Alliance for Arts Education (ACE/FAAE) to develop Arts for Life!, a program devoted to increasing the importance of art in the education system. She served as co-chair of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism initiative (NIAAA), Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, and on the board of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

Dr. Pedro Greer

Dr. Pedro José Greer, Jr. (born June 15, 1956 in Miami, Florida) is Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Chair of the Department of Humanities, Health and Society at the Florida International University School of Medicine. He founded the Camillus Health Concern, a Catholic charity which delivers health services to thousands of homeless people in Miami-Dade County and the St. John Bosco Clinic which serves disadvantaged people in Little Havana. He was awarded a MacArthur "genius grant" in 1993, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, and, most recently, Florida’s Great Floridian Award by Governor Rick Scott. A Miami native, Dr. Greer graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in chemistry in and earned his MD in 1984 from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra.

Carlos Gutierrez

Carlos Gutierrez is currently a Vice Chairman of Citigroup's Institutional Clients Group. He previously served as the 35th U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 2005 to 2009. Gutierrez is a former Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Kellogg Company. He was born in Havana, Cuba and, like many exiles, came to the U.S. in 1960 and settled in Miami, Florida.

Guillermo Maldonado

Apostle Maldonado is a Senior Pastor and founder of King Jesus Ministry in Miami, Florida. It is one of the fastest growing multicultural churches in the United States. He has written over 50 books and manuals. His ministry offers spiritual covering to a growing network of over 100 churches that extend throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe.

Emilio and Gloria Estefan

Gloria and Emilio Estefan are both Cuban American entertainers who reside in Miami, Florida. Gloria Estefan is a singer, songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. She has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, is one of the top 100 best selling music artists, won seven Grammy awards and is the most successful crossover performer in Latin music to date. Emilio Estefan is married to Gloria Estefan. He is a producer and has won 19 Grammy Awards. He also sits as the second Vice Chair to the Commission for the National Museum of American Latino, which is a bipartisan commission charged with exploring the possibility of creating a National Latino Museum in Washington, D.C.

Julio Iglesias

Julio Iglesias is a Spanish singer and songwriter who has sold over 300 million records worldwide (in 14 languages), released 80 albums, and more than 2,600 gold and platinum records certified. According to Sony Music Entertainment, he is the best selling Latin music artist in history. Julio Iglesias has a home in Indian Creek Village, just North of Miami Beach.

Manny Manuel

Cruz Manuel Hernández Santiago, known artistically as Manny Manuel, is a Puerto Rican singer of merengue, boleros, and tropical music. He first became famous as a member of the group Los Sabrosos del Merengue, before launching a successful solo career in 1994. He currently resides in Orlando.

Andy Garcia

Andy Garcia is a Cuban American actor. He became known in the late 1980s and 1990s, having appeared in several successful Hollywood films, including The Godfather Part III. Andy Garcia was born in Havana, Cuba and, like many exiles, relocated to Miami, Florida where he studied acting at Florida International University.

Tito Nieves

Humberto "Tito" Nieves is known as "El Pavarroti de la Salsa" and became one of the leading Salsa singers of the 1980s and the early 1990s. He currently resides in Orange County.

Willy Chirino

Willy Chirino is an entertainer and salsa singer.  As founder of the Willy Chirino Foundation, his philanthropic efforts have been recognized by UNICEF and the Department of State. He was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. through Operation Peter Pan, designed to get Cuban children out of the county when they feared that the government would take them away from their parents during the revolution. He considers Miami, Florida his hometown.

Olga Tañón

Olga Tañón is a two-time Grammy Award and three-time Latin Grammy-winning Merengue and Latin Pop artist. Tañón has earned two Grammy award, three Latin Grammy Awards, and 28 Premios Lo Nuestro awards during her career. She has a home in Orlando, Florida.

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto is a Puerto Rican professional boxer and former WBA (Super) Light Middleweight Champion. He is a four-time world champion in three weight divisions (light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight). He lives in Orlando, Florida.

Mark Consuelos

Mark Conseulos was born in Spain to a Mexican father and Italian mother. He grew up in Tampa, Florida and later graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in marketing. Mark Consuelos is best known for his role of Mateo Santos on the soap opera “All My Children”.

Carlos Ponce

Carlos Ponce is a singer, composer, and television personality. He was born in Puerto Rico and, in 1986 moved to Miami, Florida. He began his career in Spanish language soap operas for Televisa and Telemundo. Carlos Ponce continued to expand his acting career through roles in various American television series and American movies.

Paulina Rubio

Paulina Susana Rubio Dosamantes, known as Paulina Rubio, is a Mexican singer, actress, hostess, model and businesswoman. She is known in Mexico as an original member of the pop group Timbiriche. Rubio has sold over 20 million albums worldwide as a solo artist and is considered one of the most influential Latin celebrities in the world. She owns a home in Miami, Florida.