Ambar Mentor-Truppa is a long-standing supporter of WE and a member of both our Board of Directors and Advocacy Council. She shared with us how her mother, Dinamarca Mentor, helped her develop a passion for activism and gender equity.
How much of an influence did your mother have on you becoming someone who speaks up to make change?
My mom has been a tremendous influence. She immigrated from the Dominican Republic in her late 20s to have a better life, and left a growing career in medicine in her home country to start all over here. She and my father experienced bouts of poverty and struggled as low-wage workers in America. When my sister and I were born, my mom stayed at home with us and then began volunteering at our local elementary school. Eventually, she started attending night classes at Harold Washington College (sometimes with her young daughters in tow!), and earned her associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She’s the epitome of the type of woman WE advocates for.
Was there an ‘a-ha’ moment that made you decide to take a more active role in fighting for fairness and equity?
That moment came to me in college at the University of Illinois, studying in my Latina/o Studies classes, engaging with racial affinity groups, and learning more about structural racism. I realized that there were deep-rooted barriers to people of color achieving full opportunity and advancement in this country. I realized it was important to communicate these injustices and tackle them on a major systemic level.
What does your mother think about your passion for activism?
She’s so proud of me! She values that my work supports advancements for women just like her, and I think I’ve also inspired her to reignite her own activism. I was so proud to have her join me at the Women’s March this year with the WE delegation, and as a guest at The Working Lunch. She’s retired now after nearly 30 years in education but was motivated to run and win a seat on her Local School Council this spring as a community representative. She understands that it’s an important moment for women in all stages of their life to play a role in advocating for change.
How would you say Women Employed’s work has impacted your life?
WE has helped me find my voice and calling, which is to influence systemic change through values-based communications and to support young women and women of color in their professional endeavors. I have had meaningful experiences through my leadership on the Advocacy Council, from speaking at WE’s annual luncheon to leading media interviews on the subject of low-wage work. All have helped me be a stronger woman and advocate. I’m forever grateful to WE.