10 Influential Hispanic People from New Mexico

This post is sponsored by Sandoval Academy of Bilingual Education. At ABQ Mom, we partner with businesses that bring value to our readers.

New Mexico is the country’s most Hispanic and Latino state. Fifty percent of the population identifies as such according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And during Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to celebrate all those who make up half our state’s population.

Hispanic Heritage Month occurs each year from September 15 – October 15.

10 influential hispanic people from new mexico

I once heard someone say that you must be brave to study history. And of course, the history of Spanish conquest and colonization in New Mexico can be complicated, to say the least. However, the Hispanic culture, language, art, food, and most of all the people in New Mexico are truly something to celebrate.

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Thank you to SABE for sponsoring this article.

About Sandoval Academy of Bilingual Education

Sandoval Academy of Bilingual Education (SABE) is passionately committed to fostering an enriching educational experience. As a bilingual charter school located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, they provide a unique opportunity for students to embrace bilingualism, grow academically, and become part of a vibrant school community.

Founded with the goal of nurturing student potential in English and Spanish, SABE offers an immersive bilingual program, blending both languages seamlessly. Their dedicated educators nurture a supportive and engaging learning atmosphere where children develop and grow not only academically, but physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.

Limited Spaces Available in Grades K-8 for the 2023 -2024 School Year
Email the Admissions Office to verify if there is space available for your child. [email protected]

Learn more at nmsabe.org


New Mexico has been home to many influential Hispanic individuals who have made significant contributions in various fields. These artists, writers, scientists, and activists are indeed something to be proud of.

Rudolfo Anaya (1937-2020) | Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Rudolfo Anaya was a highly acclaimed author known for his influential novel Bless Me, Ultima, a classic of Chicano literature. Anaya was recognized by former President Obama at the 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities award ceremony “for his pioneering stories of the American Southwest. His works of fiction and poetry celebrate the Chicano experience and reveal universal truths about the human condition–and as an educator, he has spread a love of literature to new generations.”

Dennis Chavez (1888-1962) | Valencia County, New Mexico

Dennis Chavez was the first American-born Hispanic U.S. senator. Despite dropping out of school at 13 to help support his family, he continued his education independently and eventually attended Georgetown University Law School. As a politician, he became a prominent advocate for civil rights and labor rights. In addition, he worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination in the workplace.

Soledad Chávez de Chacón (1890-1936) | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Soledad Chávez de Chacón was the first woman elected to be the Secretary of State of New Mexico and the first Hispanic woman elected to statewide office in the United States. She served as acting Governor of New Mexico for two weeks in 1924, becoming the second woman to act as chief executive of a U.S. state.

Sidney M. Gutierrez (1951-) | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Colonel Sidney Gutierrez was born in Albuquerque and graduated from Valley High School before attending the Air Force Academy. After an early career as a test pilot, he was selected by NASA to become an astronaut. Guiterrez also played a key role in helping America recover after the Challenger explosion in 1986. In addition to his two space flights, he has received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal among many other awards.

Dolores Huerta (1930-) | Dawson, New Mexico

Along with Ceasar Chavez, Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers Association. She is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement.

Al Hurricane (1936-2017) | Dixon, New Mexico

Al Hurricane was a legendary musician known as the “Godfather of New Mexico Music” for his contributions to New Mexican and Hispanic music genres, including rancheras and cumbias. Over his storied music career, he released more than thirty albums.

Octaviano Larrazolo (1859-1930) | Santa Fe & Las Vegas, New Mexico

Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo Corral was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, but moved to the U.S. for his education. He served as the fourth governor of New Mexico and the first Hispanic American to serve in the United States Senate. As a former educator, he was devoted to achieving equality in education for Spanish-speaking Americans. In addition, he was instrumental in securing the recognition of the Spanish language for use in conducting public business.

Demi Lovato (1992-) | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Born on August 20, 1992 in Albuquerque, Demetria Devonne “Demi” Lovato was a prolific child actor on many Disney Channel television shows and movies. Lovato has sold over 24 million records in the United States and has also received numerous awards including an MTV Video Music Award, 14 Teen Choice Awards, five People’s Choice Awards, and two Latin American Music Awards. Thanks for making this list cool, Demi.

Adelina “Nina” Otero-Warren (1881-1965) | Los Lunas, New Mexico

Adelina Otero-Warren, the first Hispanic woman to run for U.S. Congress and the first female superintendent of public schools in Santa Fe, was a leader in New Mexico’s women’s suffrage movement. She saw the necessity of Spanish in the suffrage fight to reach Hispanic women and lobbied to ratify the 19th Amendment in New Mexico. She strove to improve education for all New Mexicans. Specifically, she worked to advance bicultural education and to preserve cultural practices among the state’s Hispanic and Native American communities.

Freddie Prinze Jr. (1976-) | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Acclaimed actor Freddie Prinze Jr. grew up in Albuquerque and attended La Cueva High School. He has received numerous acting awards and nominations. He embraces his Latino ancestry and speaks fluent Spanish.

These individuals have left a lasting impact on New Mexico and the broader Hispanic community through their contributions to politics, civil rights, literature, education, art, and various other fields.