gtl swaAs a Southwest Airlines Employee for almost 22 years, I have been fortunate to witness firsthand the difference this pioneering airline has made in millions of lives around the country. This is why I was thrilled to hear that a recent survey conducted by Forbes named Southwest as the most desirable brand in America! Both men and women shared their appreciation to accessible, affordable memories!

When it comes to building memories, it is smart to partner with someone who shares your purpose. The work I do in the communities we serve provides me many opportunities to meet leaders from across the country – leaders from the private and public sectors. Many times we work on similar initiatives, but it is rare to find someone whose work consistently reflects their passion of truly changing lives. To me, that someone is María Rita Jaramillo!

When I invited María Rita to share her accomplishments and best practices, she insisted we use the work she and I have supported as an example of the great things that can happen when you soar together as one. For more information on the different efforts we support, please visit our company websites:  and

Southwest Airlines proudly partners with those who are helping to shape our communities all across America. “One good deed—when coupled with another and another and another—can truly make a positive difference in our daily lives,” says Lidia S. Martinez, Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots, Southwest Airlines.

Southwest has forged a strong partnership with the National Education Association (NEA), a 3.2 million member organization dedicated to public education and the profession of teaching. “A great public school for every student, that’s a vision we can all stand behind.” says María Rita Jaramillo, Senior Liaison, External Partnerships and Advocacy, NEA. We believe that educating our students is a shared responsibility. It’s parents, teachers, business, labor, elected officials, the philanthropic and faith communities…everyone doing their part to ensure every student reaches their full potential.

Lidia and María Rita have a lot in common. They are dedicated to making a measurable difference in their communities and by leveraging their relationships and resources they are improving the quality of life for many. They believe that a good education can level the playing field for women, poor children and children of color. By working together, their companies and the communities they are working with are seeing results.

Over the years they have collaborated on several national projects. For example, they helped bring together more than 200 educators from low performing schools who are engaged in transforming the status quo and creating positive change. They have also jointly convened an education focused conference for 24 State Commissions on Hispanic Affairs. This gathering was a rare opportunity for leaders from diverse Latino communities to express their unique needs to education policy makers.

This fearless, two-some, are staunch children and women’s advocates and have held leadership roles in many national organizations. As such, they have worked with the National Latino Children’s Institute and their network of more than 100 non-profit organizations focused on children’s issues. They also serve on the Board of Directors of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute where they are working with Members of Congress, corporate executives and labor leaders to help develop the next generation of Latino leaders.

The National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) is another organization that María Rita and Lidia support and find personally rewarding because it develops Latinas as ethical leaders through training, professional development, relationship building, and community activism. NHLI is a national 501(c )3 organization based in Washington, DC. It was established in 1987 to address the underrepresentation of Latinas in the corporate, nonprofit and political arenas.

There is an old saying, “If you want to get the job done, give it to a woman.” In this case, if you want real change, give it to these two like-minded, dynamic, results-oriented mujeres!