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Women's History Month

Profiles in Leadership


 

 

Vanessa Guerra

Saginaw County Clerk

 


1. What is your name and profession?

Vanessa Guerra
Saginaw County Clerk

2. What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Historically women have not been treated equal to men and thus the contributions women have made to science, education, the law and so much more were never given the respect and acknowledgement they deserve. Having this month creates an opportunity for our society to properly honor the significant role women have played in our world.

3. As a woman, in what ways have you struggled to get to where you are today and how did you overcome those struggles?

As a woman in politics and as an attorney, I have found that men are quick to tell me that I am not qualified or experienced enough to do my job well. This sentiment has at times made it difficult for me to get support for legislation I was working on or projects I am spearheading. I have been able to overcome the animosity that stems from such treatment by understanding that that treatment says more about those men than it does about me. 

4. As a woman in your position, how have you fought for equity in the workplace and for other women?

While in the legislature I was a proud co-sponsor of legislation addressing the pay equity gap as well as increases to family leave. I was also involved in policy changes regarding how employers handle issues of domestic violence of their employees. Unfortunately we know that women are more likely to be a domestic violence survivor and that those situations put their mental and physical health at risk; making it more difficult to work. I was proud to support legislation to prohibit employers from terminating employees who are struggling with the legal ramifications of domestic violence.

5. Who was your role model and how did they change your life?

Having been interested in the law since I was a teenager, I have always been fond of [Supreme Court] Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Latinos make up roughly 18.5% of the U.S. population, yet we only represent 5% of all lawyers in the country. Seeing a Latina work her way to the highest court in the land has been an inspiration and I continue to look forward to her contributions to the law.

6. If you could have dinner with any woman figure dead or alive who would you choose and why?  

Aside from Justice Sotomayor, another woman who has inspired my political ambitions is former First Lady Michelle Obama. The election of Barack Obama was the first presidential election I was old enough to participate in, thus Mrs. Obama set the standard by which I will forever compare all future first ladies. Being a strong and educated woman in her own right, Mrs. Obama led the charge on fighting to ensure children had access to healthy lifestyles and a strong education. She was always willing to lend her voice to the concerns of young people who so often feel excluded from the political process.

7. What is your hope for the next generation of women and girls?

I hope that our society will eventually reach a point where women are respected and paid at the same level of men and that we no longer feel handicapped by our desire to excel professionally, and also our choice to pursue motherhood. Employee pay and leave time in the private sector should be updated to reflect our modern society, rather than force modern women to meet outdated standards of what it means to be a woman in the workforce.