A Michigan girl born to a conservative family, I grew up knowing there’s no substitution for hard work. My mother always told me the service you give to your community is the rent you pay to God for your time on earth. So, after studying hard and graduating from Northwestern, I went to Quito, Ecuador at the age of 21 to pursue a Master’s in Spanish Literature. Three weeks after I arrived, I met a charming Ecuadorian man and fell in love. Young, head over heels, and hopeful for the future, we married in 1996. We would call Ecuador home for the next 15 years.
While in Ecuador, I had three incredible daughters: Sophia, Gracie, and Vivian. I needed to help support our growing family, so I put my passion for education to work and became a teacher. I taught middle school math, created non-profits that provided professional development for public school teachers and founded a non-profit to fund and establish public children’s libraries. My husband built a successful family business in logistics, and I fully expected to live the life of an immigrant and be buried in Ecuador.
But by 2009, with the world’s economy teetering on the edge, Ecuador’s President amended the constitution, took control of the Supreme Court and plunged Ecuador into a socialist regime and economic collapse. For the first time, I feared for the safety of my family. Like many generations before us, my husband and I found refuge in Miami. At age 36, I started my life over.
The first thing I discovered was that I couldn’t afford to be a teacher in Florida – they don’t make enough to cover child care costs for three young children. So I became a stay-at-home mom and worked on special projects for the family business. I found myself dedicating more and more time to helping at my daughters’ schools and by 2012, I was deeply involved in the PTA. I was surprised at how political public education is in Florida, and I rediscovered my calling to fight for children and families.
I became the President of the Miami Palmetto High School PTSA. It was the hardest job I have ever had: 2800 kids, 1500 families, 190 teachers, 40 staff representing every socioeconomic demographic and being educated soup-to-nuts by the fourth largest public school district in the country. It was my job to advocate for every single individual in that school and I did it with gusto.
When the opportunity to run for Councilmember in the Village of Pinecrest presented itself in 2016, I knew I was more than ready to serve my community. Local politics has been a joy for me; there’s real satisfaction found in keeping your friends and neighbors safe and strong.
But the state of public education and the constant attacks by the Legislature, and it’s lack of real funding and opportunity keeps me up at night. I know the only place I can make a real difference in the lives of children and families in Florida is in Tallahassee. Life has a way of surprising us all with the adventures and opportunities that come our way. I didn’t expect to start my family in Ecuador, and I didn’t picture becoming Vice Mayor of a small city in South Dade, but my experiences have taught me to lean into life’s crazy turns. You’ll learn more than you ever imagined, meet incredible people and if you’re fortunate enough, create community. I’m eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work to put Florida’s families first in Tallahassee.
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