Our “LEE Members in Office” series shares the stories of members who ran for office during COVID. Find out why these members chose to run and what continues to motivate them to serve as elected leaders.
Luisa Santos serves as a school board member in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. She is also the founder and owner of Lulu's Ice Cream in Miami.
Luisa filed to run for school board in November 2019, right before the pandemic began. By March, when Miami experienced it first round of shut downs, Luisa felt unclear how to continue campaigning. Learn more about how she shifted into a digital campaign nearly overnight.
Luisa's Reason to Run
“My lived experience as a student in our schools is really at the end of the day, my “why” is that I was an undocumented student in our schools and I know the potential that exists in all of our students that we don't tap into and don't support the way we should. And so at the end of the day, I know how many students are sitting in our classrooms today that have just as much, if not more potential than I did. And they need the resources to be able to live up to that potential. That's why at my core, I'm doing what I'm doing.”
Running a Campaign During COVID
“I think it has helped me be a much better leader because, one, the pandemic has only highlighted the issues that we knew were important before. And so it is actually a great time to be empowered to make sure that the distribution of that influx of resources is done in an equitable manner. And because of the shift to online teaching and learning, just reliance on technology overnight that shifted so much being a younger person who grew up more digitally native. Now I'm looked at almost as an expert on certain issues, and then my voice is valued in ways that I think might have been harder to do in a different kind of world. I actually think that serving during COVID has has helped me be more effective, has created a world that allows me to to be a more effective leader.”
Mobilizing Her Communities of Support
“I am a resident of South Dade, and a product of our public schools too. I am a Latina, a young person, and an entrepreneur. These are all different communities that I have built that I ended up tapping into. And I spoke to them differently. For my entrepreneurship community where I ended up going to for a lot of dollars and support from business owners, it was really tapping into: Hey, we we know that the talent that our schools are creating has potential for so much more.”
“I think successful campaigns have to be rooted in organizing models, and that is the key that gets you to speak and and the numbers of people that need to know about what you stand for and tie it to your name. I always told our team, you know, this isn't about me. It's about the movements that clearly exist here that I am a vessel for that hasn't had that kind of vessel to to have the power before.”
LEE Members Are Called to Step Up
“You have an incredible source of knowledge and people to help you get there. You've got what it takes to do it. You just have to believe in yourself now and step up. That's the hardest part, saying, yes, me, I'm going to go use those resources and make it happen. And none of us, none of us will ever feel ready. Impostor syndrome is real, but but we all feel it to know that the people who have done it are feeling it too. And so we are just like you. There is no difference between me and you considering running for office. You absolutely should. And your voice is needed.”
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