Patty herrera’s locker contains two uniforms.
On game days, she dons a cheering outfit and takes to the sidelines for the Oakland Raiders as a member of the “Raiderettes.” During the week, she switches to a business suit and takes to the boardroom as the Raiders’ main liaison for Hispanic initiatives.
Herrera is a member of the original Oakland cheerleading squad from 1995 when the team returned to Oakland, and her dedication to community events and to the organization earned her a front office position with the Silver and black.
“Our owner, Al Davis, was one of the first to hire a Hispanic head coach - Tom Flores,” says Herrera. “Flores took the Raiders to two Super Bowls and won both. He was also the first Hispanic quarterback in the NFL. The Raiders really believe in giving opportunities to individuals.”
Herrera is now in charge of all aspects of the Hispanic side of the Raiders, working with Radio KAZA 1290, hosting “On The Edge en Español,” and writing a weekly column for Raiders.com. The column includes player interviews, Raiderette profiles, and also highlights events and community outreach within the Raiders’ organization.
Herrera holds a public relations degree and Spanish minor from San Jose State University. She has held previous positions at Telemundo where she began in marketing and sales, then moved to public relations, and later to programing. She has also worked in health-plan marketing and the dotcom world -all while cheering for the Raiders.
So when there was a push to develop a department within the Raiders’ organization that would work on all the team’s Hispanic initiatives, herrera’s background was a perfect fit.
“I am very excited to have joined the team and look forward to all the challenges that lie ahead,” said Herrera. “The nice thing about our Raider family is that we are passionate people and Hispanics are very passionate people. These are a lot of similarities that our culture has that are in line with the Raiders.”
A member of her high school drill team, Herrera loved to perform. “After graduating from college, I told myself I wanted to perform again. It was something I loved to do and missed,” she says. “My girlfriend had opened up a dance studio and I had started taking classes there. So when the Raiders held Bay Area tryouts in ‘95, we decided to go. None of my friends showed up - but I was there.” Herrera made the squad on her first try.
In 1998, Herrera, who has served as the squad’s line captain three times, was awarded the Wynetta Horton Award that is given to the woman who defines the true spirit of what a Raiderette should be. Then in 1999, she was given the honor of being awarded “Raiderette of the Year.” And the following year, she packed her bags and went to Hawaii to represent the Raiders at the 2000 Pro Bowl where she had the opportunity to cheer with other Pro Bowl cheerleader representatives from the NFL.
Her travels didn’t stop there. Whenever it came to an event or promotion that required a Spanish-speaking Raiderette, Herrera always volunteered. She attended the 2001 American Bowl in Mexico city where she would address the media there in Spanish as a spokesperson for the Raiders.
Herrera is very proud of her large Hispanic family. Currently she has 27 aunts and uncles and approximately 80-plus cousins. Herrera’s parents are from Mexico.
“At the age of three, I was fluent in both English and Spanish,” she says. “My parents thought it was very important that we learn not only about our culture, but also the language, because my father knew it would be very beneficial to us.”