Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with People CHICA's LatinXcellence series, spotlighting the incredible people who have changed the world through their work and activism. Today we focus on New Mexican politician Michelle Lujan Grisham, the first Democratic Latina to become a state governor.

Por Alma Sacasa
Octubre 16, 2020

Here at People CHICA we celebrate our Latinidad 365 days a year, but during Hispanic Heritage Month, we go extra hard. Established in 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month (also known as Latino Heritage Month or Latinx Heritage Month) recognizes the generations of Latinos who have positively influenced and enhanced our society. All month long, we'll be celebrating with a series called #LatinXcellence, highlighting people who have made a difference in Latino culture today through their art, work, and activism. 

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a 12th-generation New Mexican, was born into politics. Following in the footsteps of her grandfather Eugene Lujan, who was a judge for the Supreme Court of New Mexico, Lujan Grisham began her political career as the director of the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department under three different governors. In 2004, Governor Bill Richardson named her the New Mexico Secretary of Health, a position she held until 2007.

In 2012, Lujan Grisham was elected as the U.S. Representative for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District, and in 2016, she became the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In 2019, she became the first female Democratic governor of New Mexico, as well as the first Democratic Hispanic woman to serve as a state governor.

Since becoming governor, she has worked to transform New Mexico's public education system, improve the state's economy, introduce new job opportunities, and preserve the state's air, land, and water for future generations. Recently, she's been leading the state through the coronavirus pandemic and calling out the federal government for its slow response to the crisis. Last month, she sent out a campaign email accusing Donald Trump of "singlehandedly botching" the country's pandemic response, and said he "refused to take action while knowing how deadly and dangerous COVID-19 would be."

Aside from her political background, she also has a strong family life. She has two daughters from her marriage to Gregory Grisham (who died in 2004) and is now a proud grandmother; she's also the caretaker for her mother, Sonja.

"I'm proud to work every day to build a brighter tomorrow for New Mexicans like my granddaughter, Avery," she captioned a photo of her and her granddaughter in March. "On #InternationalWomensDay, I'm thinking of her and the incredible future that she has ahead of her because of the strong women who have blazed paths before her."