Meet Cecilia Munoz: Vice President, Public Interest Technology and Local Initiatives, New America, Former Director of the Domestic Policy Council under President Obama, MacArthur Genius Fellow, Author

As a 5-foot-2 Latina working in a world of politics dominated by men, Cecilia Muñoz always had to be more than ready. Even when she was underestimated, Cecilia found a way to rise to the top. Now she’s sharing what she learned in her new book, More than Ready: Be Strong and Be You, and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise.

Cecilia authored the book after a distinguished career in the White House under President Obama’s administration. She became the first Latina to hold the positions of director of intergovernmental affairs and domestic policy director. Prior to the White House, Cecilia served for 20-years at the National Council de La Raza (NCLR) advocating on behalf of immigrants. She is a MacArthur genius grant recipient, and is now vice president of public interest technology and local Initiatives for New America.

Cecilia experienced a journey of personal transformation over the course of her career. She learned to find her voice and embrace her calling as an advocate. Often filled with self-doubt and faced with people who questioned her abilities, Cecilia found strength by staying true to who she was. Above all, she learned that her most valuable asset was her experience as a Latina and a daughter of immigrants. Cecilia’s story shows Latina entrepreneurs that the world is more than ready for what we bring.

4 Things to Take from Cecilia Right Now

Throw Some Elbows

Cecilia was often the only woman in the room during political meetings or events. After one of Cecilia’s first congressional meetings all the men stood up and formed a huddle to talk, but Cecilia wasn’t included in the circle. She learned to “throw an elbow” and ask them to make room for her. Once she did that, she was never left out again.

Overcome Self-Doubt through Preparation

As a woman of color in politics, Cecilia felt pressure to be better than everyone else just to be taken seriously. She sometimes doubted herself and felt the doubt others had in her. To manage through those doubts, Cecilia over-prepared and made sure she was always ready to deliver.

Dare to Be Disliked

For Cecilia, accomplishing things and making strides toward positive change was much more important than worrying if others liked her. If you’re worried all the time if people like you, you can miss out on doing your best work and fulfilling your purpose.

Follow Your North Star

Having a north star and staying focused on what matters helps you keep going no matter how difficult the times are. If you are steering toward your north star and remain true to who you are, everything will be okay.