Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen obtained her Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Community College, Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education from Florida International University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Miami.
She spent the early part of her career as a Florida certified teacher in the Miami-Dade Public School system. In 1981, Ros-Lehtinen founded Eastern Academy, a private elementary school in Hialeah where she served as teacher and principal.
In 1982, she began her series of “firsts” by becoming the first Hispanic woman in the Florida House and in 1986, the Florida Senate. She entered Congress in 1989 and immediately set to work to improve the lives of her constituents and community.
While in Congress, Ileana has fought to bring fiscal discipline to Washington, keep taxes low, preserve seniors’ benefits such as Medicare and Social Security, and invest in a robust education for our students.
Education remains one of Ileana’s top priorities. She supports legislation to increase the availability of student financial aid, and reduce the paperwork burden for students and parents applying for financial aid for college. Ileana is also a strong supporter of the Head Start program for elementary education, and curriculums which incorporate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—critical learning blocks of a 21st century education.
Ileana serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In that role, Ileana is an outspoken advocate for human rights. She has led the Congress on human rights issues pertaining to Tibet and Darfur, even authoring legislation to award his Holiness the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal.
As a Cuban refugee, Ileana’s dedication to a free Cuba is at the heart of many legislative battles. Her interactions with former political prisoners of Castro’s gulags serve as inspiration to relentlessly speak out in favor of human rights, democracy, and respect for individual liberties.
Ileana is married to Dexter Lehtinen; the couple has 2 adult children. Ileana is also a proud step-mother and grandmother.
“Kids need to hear it,” says Ileana. “They want role models and they want their parents to be involved. The Century Council finds a good way and an easy way for parents to be part of their child’s life.” We invite you to learn more about Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the work she has done.