Lupe Ramos-Montigny (D-Grand Rapids) is no stranger to hard work. Born in Weslaco, Texas, Ms. Ramos-Montigny, traveled to Michigan, as a young girl, to harvest beets in Caseville, cherries in Old Mission Peninsula, and tomatoes in Indiana. Her parents, Ysidro and Maria, traveled with six (6) daughters and one (1) son from Texas to earn extra money to help the family with the expenses. This experience taught her the value of sustained effort, the importance of education, and the need for advocacy for minorities.
Ms. Ramos-Montigny earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas. Her father, Ysidro, helped educate the family of nine children despite his limited education. The Ramos family produced a businessman, an attorney, nurses, educators, a legal secretary, and an auto mechanic. When her first born son, Gerard, was three years old she attended Grand Valley State University where she earned her Master of Science Degree in Allendale, Michigan with emphasis in Bilingual Education.
First and foremost an educator, Ms. Ramos-Montigny worked for the Michigan Public Schools for thirty-six (36) years. As a senior at Pan American University, Ms. Ramos-Montigny was recruited to teach in the Migrant Education Program in the state of Michigan. This was her first assignment . . . working with students and families who, like herself, harvested a variety of crops. Her dream to return to the beautiful state she left a few years before came to a reality!
Most of her professional career was dedicated to the Grand Rapids Public Schools. Her extensive experience in the classroom as a teacher, in the building as a principal, and her commitment to serve the students, the families, the educators and the communities continues. She cultivates a harvest of another kind to serve as a role model of civic action, cultural awareness, gender equity and dedicated leadership.
The Committee to Honor Cesar E. Chavez was founded in the year 2000 by dedicated community volunteers. Ms. Ramos has served as the chairperson for twelve (12) years. The Committee is committed to host an annual Social Justice March/Community Gathering, Cinco de Mayo Celebration, and the Scholarship/Awards Gala. The Committee dedicates most of its work to advance the educational goals of Hispanic students pursuing a college education. For the past eight (8) years six annual $1,000 scholarships have been presented to students attending Grand Rapids Community College. The Cesar E. Chavez Unity Committee was organized on January 24, 2012 to partner with the Committee to Honor Cesar E. Chavez in order to enhance our mission in a broader scope united with Aquinas College, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids Public Schools and Grand Valley State University. Next year, Davenport University will present the first Cesar E. Chavez, “Si Se Puede” Scholarship at the annual Gala. Many volunteers have come and gone but Ms. Ramos-Montigny keeps her eye on the prize . . . the students.
Ms. Ramos-Montigny serves the community in two other very important boards that impact the lives of students and families. She is a member of the Student Advancement Foundation Board. This Board ensures that all Grand Rapids Public Schools students have the tools they need to learn by providing funding to meet needs the district can not provide. She is also a member of the Kent County Citizens Friend of the Court Advisory Board designed to advise the Court and the County Board of Commissioners regarding the office of the Friend of the Court. She serves this group as the Child Advocate and is currently the Vice-Chair.
Ms. Ramos-Montigny has labored as well in state politics with bountiful results. She was the organizing force behind the Michigan Democratic Hispanic/Latino Caucus where she served as the chairperson for seven (7) years. In 2002, she was elected to chair the Kent County Democratic Party and successfully served as the first Latina. In 2003, she became the first Latina to become the second vice-chair for the Michigan Democratic Party. She is still serving in this capacity. In November 06, 2012, she was elected to serve as a member of the Michigan State Board of Education with 1,919,047 votes of confidence.
Her exemplary leadership and selfless service to the Hispanic community have resulted in her receiving numerous awards and recognitions. Among those are: October 18, 2012, Proclamation signed by ten (10) various persons, Mayor Heartwell, College and University President, and Organizations; June 28, 2012, Latina Wings Award, Grand Rapids Caribbean Association; January, 2010 Mayor George Heartwell Champion of Diversity Award.
Political activist, grassroots organizer, dedicated educator—Lupe Ramos-Montigny is no stranger to hard work or to the sweet bounty of success that such hard work can yield.
Ms. Ramos Montigny retired from the classroom on June 30, 2008 but not from family, community or politics. She has a son, Gerard, Insurance Broker, Illustration Specialist and a daughter, Irma, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineer. She is the very proud grandmother of Amelia Rose, 3 1/2 years old.