Happy Birthday Latina... getting ready to celebrate a big bash tonight!

This July 1999 Latina magazine cover image of the intelligent and beautiful Salma Hayek is one of my favorite covers during my time as editor in chief of the magazine. I dreamed up the styling of the actress as a 21st century warrior woman based on the Mexican women who fought in the nation's revolution. When I explained to Salma my vision, I was crossing my fingers on the other end of the phone. Her team was confused, but this warrior woman got it. It was and still is still one of my favorite covers. (See my second favorite cover after the jump!) For me this Salma cover is symbolic of the strength that Latinas possess. It's a power that we innately have and is always ready to be fulfilled.

I was the second editor in chief of the magazine, from 1997 to 1999, and to have witnessed the magazine that I helmed as an upstart blossom over the years has been a profound joy. I was recently asked to reflect on my time as editor in chief:

"I started editing Latina when the magazine was two years old, while it was still young, it was no longer a novelty and needed some sweet and focused attention, much like toddlers do,” Sandra Guzman recalls fondly. “It was an exhilarating time filled with purpose and promise. Out of that energy she created the Dolores Dice advice column. “In a sweet way, the magazine's transformation is akin to what the character has experienced--from sporting a moño (bun) to letting her hair down, loose and free—Dolores Dice has grown and so have we,” Guzman said. “The beloved advice column has been a metaphor for how the Latina community continues to evolve. Imagine my pride to have come back to the magazine more than a decade later to pen a cover story about my friend, and the nation's first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor! We've come a long way, Latinas in the USA, and have much more to go, and how sweet that this precious magazine has been there along the journey to be that good sister-friend who provides loving wisdom and great content about all things woman! ..."

I chose covers that were clearly obvious, Jennifer Lopez a couple of times and stories that told the complete story of who we are and the various roles we play. Love it, hate it, ambivalent - Latina magazine was a great idea that many of us had -- those in media and readers. An important idea that mattered. And it took the perseverance of Christy Haubegger to get a deal that made the dream of many a reality. She knocked on a lot of doors. Enter Ed Lewis. Then the President and CEO of Essence Magazine, Lewis backed her dream with his millions. Not a coincidence that the womb of Latina was in the offices of Essence magazine under the talented hands of editor, Patricia Duarte, who was the founding editor.

Latina, like all of us, has experienced many makeovers  but I think all with a constant vision -- to be a voice that captures US Latinas in all of our glory. May it continue to have many more birthdays!