Finding Strength in Your Own Story

Marc Beckmann
“There are a lot of power barriers that keep people like myself from running for office.”
Raquel Castañeda-López

Born as the daughter of a migrant father who started life in America as a plasterer and a mother who worked as a rural postal carrier, Raquel Castañeda-López had to break down a lot of barriers to become a politician. However, she made history by becoming the first Latina elected to the Detroit City Council in November 2013, her first attempt at an elected position. Raquel Castañeda-López currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Budget, Audit, and Finance committee and as a member of the Public, Health, and Safety committee.

As a Detroit City Council Member, Raquel is representing District 6, home to the city's most diverse communities. A social worker by trade, she worked in the non-profit sector and academia before being recruited to run for office. Through her efforts, Detroit joined the national “Welcoming America” movement to build more inclusive communities, becoming the 41st Welcoming City in the country.

She also founded Detroit's Immigration Taskforce, worked to create the City's first Office of Immigrant Affairs, and piloted the Detroit ID program. Through these initiatives she has worked to help Detroit grow as a diverse, inclusive, and global city.

Raquel developed a strong resident service program, through grassroots organizing and a mobile office, helping residents and businesses cut through the red tape in order to access services and resources. She currently serves on the board of New American Leaders, helping to recruit and train new Americans to run for office.

Raquel Castañeda-López took part in the BMW Foundation Global Table in San Diego on “Transcending Borders” and she is a member of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network.

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