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 daughters and one 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 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 became 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. On November 3, 2017, she was elected to the National Association of State Boards of Education as a Central Area Director.
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 17 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 13 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 the 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. As an off shoot from the Committee, in 2012, Davenport University launched the Cesar E. Chavez, “Si Se Puede” Scholarship and has awarded six tuition free scholarships at the annual Gala. In October 14, 2015, the Lupe Ramos-Montigny “Si Se Puede” Legacy Endowed Scholarship was established at Grand Valley State University. Eleven scholarships of $3,000 have been awarded to date. On October 20, 2016, Aquinas College awarded their first Cesar E. Chavez four-year scholarship. So the marvelous work continuous with the seed that was planted in the year 2000! 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 Grand Rapids Museum Foundation Board, an institution that inspires passionate curiosity and a deeper understanding of the world in a uniquely Grand Rapids context. She serves on the Grand Rapids Public Museum School Advisory Board whose curriculum focuses on providing students with opportunities to explore their community, use design thinking to become creative problem solvers, and have exciting hands-on experiences.
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 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 has attended numerous DNC National Conventions. On November 06, 2012, she was elected to an eight-year term on the Michigan State Board of Education with 1,919,047 votes of confidence.
Her exemplary leadership and selfless service to her community have resulted in her receiving numerous awards and recognitions. Among those are: Proclamation signed by ten various persons, Mayor Heartwell, College and University Presidents, and Organizations; Mayor George Heartwell Champion of Diversity Award; NOBLE Civil Rights Justice Action Youth Award; Helen Claytor Civil Rights Award, City of Grand Rapids; Dave and Carol Van Andel Leadership Award, Grand Rapids Public Museum; Honorary Degree of Doctorate, Public Service, Ferris State University; and Honorary Doctorate Degree of Theology, Midwest Theological University; WGVU- I HAVE Made a Difference Award;; Lupe Ramos-Montigny “Si Se Puede” Legacy Endowed Scholarship, Grand Valley State University; Literacy Center- Ledy Award for Community Engagement; to name a few.
Political activist, grassroots organizer, dedicated educator – Hon. Lupe Ramos-Montigny is no stranger to hard work or to the sweet bounty of success that such hard work can yield.
Hon. Lupe Ramos-Montigny retired from the classroom on June 30, 2008, but not from family, community or politics. She has a son, Gérard, who is an Insurance Broker and Illustration Specialist and a daughter, Irma, a Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineer. She is the very proud grandmother of Amelia Rose and Logan Frederick.