Former Hispanic Chamber leader Maria Monreal-Cameron dies at 75

Maria Monreal-Cameron, former president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, (center) leads a discussion regarding increasing civic engagement among Hispanic residents in the region, as part of the Hispanic Collaborative’s ongoing work.
Maria Monreal-Cameron, former president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, (center) led a discussion regarding increasing civic engagement among Hispanic residents in the region, as part of the Hispanic Collaborative’s ongoing work.

Last updated on January 20th, 2021 at 02:29 pm

Maria Monreal-Cameron, the former president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin and a longtime leader in the Milwaukee community, died Monday after a battle with cancer. She was 75.

Monreal-Cameron led the Hispanic Chamber from 1989 until her retirement at 2013.

“Maria Cameron was a pillar of the Hispanic community, a pillar of the business community. She fought for the ideals she believed in. She fought for the Hispanic business community for 24 years as the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,” said Lupe Martinez, president and chief executive officer of UMOS.

Monreal-Cameron took the helm of the chamber after spending 17 years as a stay-at-home mother of three sons and three daughters and having developed strong ties to the Hispanic community through her involvement in Milwaukee’s Mexican Fiesta among other organizations.

A Milwaukee native, Monreal-Cameron was one of 13 children born to Mexican immigrant parents and the first daughter behind seven sons.

Throughout her career, she served as an advisor on the committees and councils of organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, Affiliated Home Health Care and Milwaukee Succeeds – Cradle to Career.

Her career has also been marked by dozens of awards, including BizTimes’ 2013 Woman Executive of the Year, TEMPO Milwaukee Mentor Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce & Latina Style Magazine and the Lamplighter Award from the Greater Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Monreal-Cameron also was an advocate for victims of domestic violence within the Hispanic community, Martinez said.

“She fought for the little guy. … She spoke publicly about the lack of bi-lingual supportive services and legal assistance due to language barriers. She gave a voice to the voiceless for victims of domestic violence within the Hispanic community,” he said.

Monreal-Cameron was well connected, getting to know “every Wisconsin governor and every elected official” during her tenure with the chamber to help advance the Hispanic community, Martinez said.

“I am grateful to have known and worked with Maria,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “I always admired her for her inspiring nature, leadership and dedication. She advanced opportunities for the Hispanic community by promoting civil rights, advocating for small businesses, advancing gender equality and advocating for the rights of immigrants. Her enormous contributions to our community will forever be an inspiration for generations to come.”

Below is a video of Maria Monreal-Cameron receiving the 2013 BizTimes Media Woman Executive of the Year award.

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