Frances “Fran” Montes is a dynamic leader in the Southern Nevada Hispanic community, as well as in the business, social, and political communities. She is the first woman to serve as president of Hispanics in Politics (HIP) and one of a small number of Hispanic women who are acknowledged as spokespersons for the diverse Hispanic community in the Las Vegas valley. She worked as the Diversity Officer for Bechtel Nevada Corporation, was a member of the Latin Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada, and one of the earliest members of NALA (Nevada Association of Latin Americans).
Born in a San Antonio, Texas barrio, Montes was one of five daughters raised by a single mother in a very traditional neighborhood. After graduation from high school, she entered the business world as a secretary. She married Jerry Montes, who was in the Air Force, and they traveled and worked on several bases in Europe. When they returned to the United States and were assigned to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada Fran began to use the wealth of her experience in service to her community and her family. The Montes children, Robert and Lisa, grew up with strong ties to the Las Vegas community and to the concept of service.
To hear Fran Montes tell her life story is to learn lessons in culture, history, geography, political science, and philosophy. It is a remarkable story, set in diverse locales and told in vivid detail. It is the evolution of barrio niña to woman of distinction at ease as a leader in a world of cultural diversity. It is the personal growth of one of the first in her family to graduate from high school to at scholar with a master’s degree.
Fran Montes is both idealist and pragmatist. She expresses this dichotomy in talking about her goals: “I don’t do anything [by] myself…it’s always ‘we’… Each of us is a … culture of one because we bring our baggage but then we incorporate new ones…that we aren’t aware of…out there. So we’ve become very diverse… How do we get people to understand that these differences and similarities are really what makes us strong and that we all have something to offer and that we should be leveraging those similarities and differences for the betterment of our community? That’s what I want to do.” And she does.
Photo courtesy of Fran Montes. Audio courtesy of the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada. They may not be reproduced without specific permission.