By Leonard Rodriguez
This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 500 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics.

Elizabeth Pena HIspanic Lifestyle 2009 East Classic Theater

Elizabeth Peña

 Destined for a career in theater, Elizabeth Pena was born to Margarita and Mario Pena, the creators of the Latin American Theater Ensemble in New York. Since her debut in “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” she has proven her versatility. She has starred in “La Bamba,” “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Lone Star,” but is most proud of her creation “Celebrando la Diferencia, a Latino Series for Children,” whose goal was to get kids turned on to reading and feeling pride about their culture. Commenting on the production, which features stars such as Richard Dreyfuss and Sonya Braga, Peña said, “If I can get a couple of kids to understand that though they are American, they come from a very long history and can use this history to empower them, I would be a very happy person.”