Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro (center left) is joined by Montgomery County Correctional Facility Job Specialist Donna Rojas (far left), Commission for Women President Nicole Drew (center right) and Commission member Tazeen Ahmad (far right) at the 40th anniversary event on Jan. 26 at Shady Grove. Photo by Lyna Bentahar/The Montgomery Sentinel.

SHADY GROVE – Appropriately following the Women’s Legislative Briefing’s 40th anniversary, Councilmember Nancy Navarro was inducted by the Montgomery County Commission for Women into the county’s Women’s History Archives on Jan. 26, the 48th celebrated in its annual induction ceremony. Chosen for her work as a political leader in the county, Navarro is the first elected Latina member of the Montgomery County Council and its only female council member.

“Being inducted into the County Women’s History Archives is an honor and privilege that few in the history of our great County have had,” Navarro said in a statement before her induction. “I am deeply humbled to be on a list with such distinguished and pioneering Montgomery County women, particularly as we celebrate this year the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women nationwide a fair and equal voice in our country.”

The last decade of Navarro’s work has only seen her grow in her influence. First elected into the county council in a special election in 2009, Navarro first entered a four-year term in 2010. The following year, President Barack Obama appointed Navarro to the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

She was twice elected the county council president, and most recently, Navarro was elected co-vice president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, an organization that connects the leaders of local jurisdictions in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.

Nicole Drew, the commission’s president, said the commission chose to induct Navarro not only for her work as a council member but as someone relatable to women, especially women of color. County Executive Marc Elrich recently signed the Racial Equity and Social Justice Act, a bill led by Navarro that would prompt county departments to formulate action plans for racial equity.

“Just being an African American woman as well,” Drew said, “it’s important that people recognize some of the issues that African Americans have to deal with just because of their color.”

“Throughout her career, she has worked to improve the lives of Montgomery County residents,” Donna Rojas, the commission’s first vice president, said.

Sharing the stage with Navarro were former inductees of the archives, including State Sen. Susan Lee and Del. Charlotte Crutchfield. Councilmember Will Jawando was also in attendance at the council member’s induction.

Speaking to Navarro, being the only female council member, Jawando said, “I think she does have a unique role…but to have her voice is critical.”

“You’ve heard tonight,” he said. “She’s got a great career, and it was nice to have her leading us that first year (of my term).”

Of her last decade on the council, Navarro took pride in her Wheaton revitalization project and her spearheading of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Act.

“I think (the bill) will help a lot of women that maybe before felt that they had a disadvantage,” she said. “So we’ve made a lot of strides, and I feel like the path now is a little bit easier than perhaps when I showed up on the screen.”

Despite council members acknowledging Navarro’s value on the council, she admitted it was often hard as a woman to speak up and have her voice heard, especially in her early years.

“There’s no doubt that the same issues that affect women in all different sectors affect me. There are times when I feel erased. There are times where I have to say, ‘Excuse me, I just said that,’” Navarro said. “But I’ve decided always to be very focused on my outcome and that’s what has helped me make sure that I have, now, this agenda of work.”

“So the struggle continues,” she said. “But…as women, we just need to stay really focused and just not be bothered and just keep going.”

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