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U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero
U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero speaks after being honored as the Public Service Archetype at AL DÍA's 2022 Hispanic Heritage Archetypes Gala. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DÍA News.

U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero takes in the history as an AL DÍA Hispanic Heritage Archetype

Romero is the first woman of color and LGBTQ+ individual to ever hold the post in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, but the award was about more.

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On the night of Friday, Sept. 23, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Jacqueline Romero was in the middle of listing all those she had to thank for her new historic position and the AL DÍA recognition as its 2022 Public Service Archetype for Hispanic Heritage Month when she needed to pause.

“Let’s just take this in for one minute. We are sitting in one of the big ballrooms with a big fancy chandelier at the Union League in Philadelphia… highlighting the achievements of Latinos and Hispanics in this city,” Romero told the crowd. “I’m blown away knowing the history of this city, this building, where we’re at.”

It was quite the statement from someone who knows a thing or two about making history, especially in 2022. 

Romero is the first woman of color and LGBTQ+ individual to ever rise to the position of U.S. Attorney at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Take Judge Nelson Diaz’s word for it, who introduced Romero at the ceremony: “I’ll tell you. I applied for that job, and I couldn’t get it.”

The new U.S. Attorney was sure to also thank Diaz and other trailblazing Latino lawyers in Philly for creating the space for her to carve her own path to be the city’s most powerful attorney.

“I literally stand on the backs of those people,” she said. “I would not be here.”

In having the moment to reflect, Romero also took time to recognize the importance of an event like the one that was honoring her as a public service archetype.

It was coverage of her story that first “put us on the map,” as she said in her acceptance speech. AL DÍA’s first story on Romero came in 2017, as she was elevated outside of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania office to be president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania.

Then, Romero was 11 years in at the EDPA as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and it was the first time anyone in the wider world got to know her story of growing up the daughter of Spanish immigrants in a New Jersey diner. 

In her words, “it created the dialogue that literally is history.”

“My grandfather was an immigrant who came here with nothing. My dad was a short order chef in our diner flipping burgers for a living… My grandmother washed other people’s toilets for a living,” said Romero at the Archetypes gala. “To be standing here and come from where I come from, and to be doing the job that I’m doing, knowing all the history that goes behind this, I wish my grandfather Diego and my grandmother Olivia were here right now to take this in.”

Beyond that, Romero had no words for the honor of being named an archetype.

“For me, this is one of the biggest honors of my lifetime,” she said.

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