She’s a voice for the voiceless, an advocate and a fighter.
While Mireya Reith continues her battle for Hispanic residents of Northwest Arkansas, she had a fight of her own, well before moving to Arkansas. “Sometimes we forget that before it was the Natural State, it was the Land of Opportunity. And Arkansas definitely saw things in me that I did not see.” says Reith.
The potential was always there for Mireya Reith. Despite hardships growing up as child in the Midwest — life changed for Reith when her family moved to the south. Reith says, “The way my family picked Fayetteville, Arkansas, was literally out of a magazine. Fayetteville was ranked in the Top 10 towns to live in. My family definitely wanted to be close to Mexico. They wanted a closer drive and they didn’t want the Wisconsin winters.”
A new chapter in Reith’s life, created new possibilities for the Fayetteville High School alum. And it was her support system that helped pave her path to success. “I am definitely a person who is grounded in her family. The ones who also gave me discipline and made sure that I stayed focused in my work and in every stage in my life. I’ve tried to make intentional decisions as related to them.” says Reith.
Reith left Arkansas to earn degrees in Political Science and Spanish at Williams College in Massachusetts and a masters in International Affairs at Columbia University. After spending a decade away from home, she returned and immediately noticed something was different. Reith says, “From the moment I landed in Arkansas, someone greeted me in Spanish. I remember asking, “Did I land in the right place? Am I in Arkansas?” And were like, “No, you’re in the right place.” And I knew I needed to figure out who this new Arkansas was.”
And she hit the ground running. In 2010, she co-founded Arkansas United Community Coalition, a non-profit who focuses on immigration reform in Arkansas. Her works, caught the eye of former Governor Mike Beebe, who in 2011, appointed Reith to the State Board of Education, as the first latina on the committee. “I never thought of myself as a leader. I never thought of myself starting a non-profit. If it wasn’t for our state and coming home in the moment I did, I would probably be sitting behind a desk somewhere in Washington D.C. or New York and telling other people.. you stand up to leadership.”
Reith complements Northwest Arkansas in shaping her personality and wiliness to give back to the community. “We’re neighbor-centered. There’s no where else that I’ve traveled in the world, that’s going to see somebody…see everybody as a neighbor..and afford them some basic respect and kindness.”
The fight continues, as Reith is constantly traveling the country speaking on immigration reform and helping Hispanic families gain legal citizenship. She could have had a more lucrative career in a much larger city, but as Reith put it, her calling was always destined to work for change at home.