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Meet Michelle

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Embracing Honor, Integrity, and Service

Michelle comes from a family of service, a family of proud educators and veterans of the military. Her first role models were her educator parents and her trailblazing grandparents. The latter included the first Black teacher and principal on Cape Cod, MA, an instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen, and “Rosie the Riveters.” Growing up in small towns across Massachusetts, Virginia, and Texas, Michelle lived in rural, farming, and suburban communities and experienced food and housing insecurity during parts of her childhood. As an American of Cape Verdean descent (Cabo Verde is a country at the intersection of West African and Portuguese cultures), Portuguese language and traditions were dominant at home. Michelle learned from her great-grandparents and grandparents what it is like to come to a new country, work hard, and create a better life.

 

Michelle worked her way through Barnard College at Columbia University and The George Washington University Law School -- the first woman in her family to earn a law degree -- before becoming a tech lawyer, tech business leader, and small business owner. Her husband of over 30 years, Roberto, is a middle school teacher whose parents and extended family hail from Puerto Rico, and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He joins other members of Michelle's family who proudly represent five of the six branches of our U.S. military. Michelle is a long-time resident of the Manassas area, and she values family, service, honor, and integrity. She was the first woman and first person of color to represent Virginia's 50th House District and now proudly represents District 20, one of the Commonwealth's most diverse districts and the district in Virginia with the highest Latino population.

 

Building Bridges, Finding Solutions

 

Michelle knows what it takes to make things right, and does the work to get there. She also knows how to work through conflict in polarized environments. Michelle applies a strong code of ethics, tenacity, and compassion to complex problems, with experience supporting a broad range of people and partners—from youth groups, to businesses and schools, to communities experiencing violence, to Palestinian and Israeli mothers impacted by war, to veterans and first responders, to UN Foundation international peace keepers and humanitarian aid workers.

 

No stranger to conflict and crisis situations, Michelle has worked with federal law enforcement at the southern border, Minnesotans processing the murder of George Floyd, Michiganders experiencing the Flint water crisis, and Congressional staffers recovering from the events of January 6th. Michelle is both a bridge-builder and a fighter, able to envision and develop functional solutions under significant pressure.

Focusing on People

Michelle listens, works across the aisle, and gets things done. She has an inclusive approach and fights for the rights and resources for women, workers, students, our LGBTQ+ community, the environment, immigrant families, veterans, people living with different abilities, and family-owned and small businesses. Drawing on decades of related law, technology, and business experience, Michelle is Founding Chair of the General Assembly's bipartisan and bicameral Technology & Innovation Caucus, Steering Committee Chair of its statewide AI Work Group, and sits on a bipartisan national steering committee for an AI Work Group of state legislators from around the country.

 

 

Strong Leadership

Michelle is an effective and respected leader. While in the Virginia House of Delegates, she has been named “2022 Rookie Legislator of the Year," “Legislative Champion,” and "Outstanding Ally to Public Education." Most recently, Michelle was named 2024 "Impact Maker" by Virginia Business Magazine and a 2024 "Legislative Champion" by the Virginia Education Association.

 

She also serves on the Committees for Labor and Commerce, Courts of Justice, Communications, Technology & Innovation, and Privileges and Elections.

 

Michelle is Chair of the Courts of Justice Judicial Subcommittee, the Labor and Commerce Insurance & Financial Institutions Subcommittee, and the House Democratic Caucus' Affordable Housing Policy Committee.

In her non-political capacity, Michelle also serves on the Board of Directors for Sojourners and the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as the Advisory Board for the Francine LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being at Barnard College.

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Michelle on the Issues

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