Women We Love 2022: Gabriela Santiago-Romero

Gabriela Santiago-Romero

by Rosa Maria Zamarron

“Growing up, I only saw old, white men in [political] office, and I thought that was a requirement,” Gabriela Santiago-Romero tells GO. “If it wasn’t for leaders like [U.S. Representative] Rashida Tlaib, [State Senator] Stephanie Chang, or my former councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, I would not have had the guts or confidence that I could do this work.” An immigrant from Mexico and a native of Southwest Detroit, Mich., Santiago-Romero is the first out Latina woman elected to the Detroit City Council, serving District 6. Before this groundbreaking victory, she studied international business at the University of Detroit Mercy and received her Master of Social Work degree from University of Michigan, where she stud- ied Social Policy and Evaluation with a focus on Community and Social Systems. Santiago-Romero has a wealth of experience working with Detroit government and non-profit organizations, including Grand Circus coding school, the Detroit Lions and State Senator Stephanie Chang’s Girls Making Change summer program. In spring 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Santiago-Romero ran for Wayne County Commissioner in District 4, challenging a 20- year incumbent, and lost by only 1,200 absentee votes. Now in office, Santiago-Romero strives to engage the community and keep constituents updated through monthly district meetings for residents and political education content on social media, including weekly bilingual council updates. “I ran for this seat to change the status quo and create an inviting, trans- parent, inspiring, and engaging city council,” Santiago-Romero says. “I’m proud to say that our office has been successful in doing that.” What fuels her work? “Love and food.” –LE

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