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Join us for a book talk with Cecilia Muñoz, author and former adviser to President Barack Obama. She will be speaking about her new book, More Than Ready: Be Strong and Be You…and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise. Book sales and a signing will follow. This event will be free and open to the public and will be co-sponsored by Creciendo Juntos.
Serving at the highest levels of government and advocacy work in Washington, DC, Cecilia Muñoz has often been the only Latina at the table where key decisions were being made, and sometimes the first ever to serve in her role—as when President Obama appointed her to lead his Domestic Policy Council. While being a “first” or an “only” (or both) is a victory in many ways, Muñoz writes, it also poses unique challenges. She knows this from her own experience and from the women who approach her after speaking engagements, thanking her and asking for advice.
For these women and others like them, Muñoz wrote More Than Ready: Be Strong and Be You…and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise (Seal Press, 2020), offering anecdotes and insights from her own remarkable career. For example: she invites readers into the room where she is working to influence the handful of words that will frame the President’s agenda on immigration reform in his State of the Union address, balancing her responsibility to the administration against her personal passion and the demands of her friends in the advocacy community. She shares the self-doubt she feels when a former colleague hints publicly that Muñoz got her job because she “checked a box,” as well as the steps she took to recover her confidence and do the job the President hired her to do. And she describes how she worked through the personal conflict she felt between her career ambitions and her desire to live up to the example of the “perfect Latina mom” she remembered from childhood. (Spoiler alert: her biracial children turned out just fine, and are quoted movingly in the book.)
More Than Ready also draws on Muñoz’s conversations with prominent women of color, including Deesha Dyer, who was told that she wasn’t “management material” and went on to serve as one of Michelle Obama’s top aides; Pramila Jayapal, the first South Asian woman to serve in Congress; and Patricia Worthy, an eminent law professor. Each offers actionable advice on earning respect, making tough decisions, responding to criticism, and navigating double-standards. But Muñoz’s most important advice for women of color is to “remember that what you bring into any room is valuable. We can and must be seen and heard. For too long, decisions that affect every aspect of our lives have been made by others who often don’t understand us or what we know about the world. The world needs what we bring.”
"Americans are slowly, sometimes reluctantly, coming to understand that power and success comes in many shapes and sizes. Following the adventures of Cecilia Muñoz, a self-described ‘diminutive Latina,’ as she scales the heights of domestic policy-making and finds herself at President Obama’s elbow, will inspire an entire generation of America’s next leaders."
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America, author of Unfinished Business
Cecilia Muñoz served for eight years on President Obama’s senior staff, becoming the nation’s longest serving Director of the Domestic Policy Council. Before the White House, she served for twenty years at the National Council of La Raza (now UNIDOS US), and earned a MacArthur Fellowship for her work on immigration and civil rights. She is now the Vice President for Public Interest Technology and Local Initiatives at New America. She lives in Maryland.