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Born into a family of Mexican-Americans, Romana Acosta Bañuelos became the first Hispanic treasurer of the United States

Romana Acosta Bañuelos was deported to Mexico as a child in the early 1930s and returned a decade later as an 18-year-old single mother. At 21, she managed to save $500 which she used to start her own tortilla factory in Los Angeles. She then used this money to establish the first Latino-owned bank in California, Pan-American National.

The bank’s success caught the attention of Richard Nixon’s administration and in 1970, Bañuelos was considered for the post of U.S. treasurer. Nixon later personally chose her as his candidate. She served from December 1971 to February 1974.

After she resigned from her post, Bañuelos returned to her food business and by 1979, the sales reached $12 million a year. Along with Pan-American National Bank, Romana’s Mexican Food Products is credited with helping economically troubled East Los Angeles develop a sense of community and with being a vital factor in the economic improvement of its Latino population.

Romana passed away on 15 January 2018 aged 92 and is survived by her daughter, son and 12 grandchildren. 

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This is part of our year-long #ICB100Women Campaign honouring 100 influential and inspiring women bookkeepers, to celebrate the suffrage centenary. 

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