As a woman with strong family values, Maribel Touré has always believed that pursuing her dreams was an example for her children. But she never imagined that her determination and passion was going to make her a true leader in her community.
Touré, 54, made news in 2014 when she was elected to the Hempstead Public Schools Board of Education for a one-year term in a very hard-fought campaign. She was re-elected in a second election in 2015 where she now holds the position of vice president. For Touré, becoming part of the Hempstead School Board of Education was a real challenge that she could only accomplish with community support. Her four children were her main motivation in doing so; she was worried about their future and the future of the children in her community.
She met her husband in Mexico City during the 1980s and married there in 1989. The same year, her husband decided to come to New York and Maribel followed him a year later. They made their new home in Queens. Life in New York City at that time, especially for a bi-racial immigrant couple, was not easy. But little by little, opportunities emerged and they were more than ready to face the challenges.
Meanwhile, Touré focused on working, learning English and later on, her career. She took jobs as a library page, a secretary, a cashier and an EMT until she was ready to complete the process of re-validating her degrees in biochemistry and radiology. She was then prepared to take the necessary exams to obtain U.S. certification in her field.
Now, with two children in tow, Touré and her husband decided it was time to move to a bigger place. They started to look for apartments in Queens, but along the way they faced discrimination.
“As a bi-racial couple you found a lot of resistance in good neighborhoods because you already know how it’s racist and segregated. We finally said OK, we are not going to be able to get anything, we just need to get a house,” Touré said.
Touré said she has always been involved in the children’s school as an active mother, going on field trips with her kids and participating in activities and events. “I wanted them just to know that I cared about my kids and that they can count on me,” she said.
Touré began to organize around the issue of education in Hempstead. She and members of NYCC exposed the Hempstead school board’s improprieties and realized the district’s problems were the result of a dysfunctional board of education. That’s when she decided to run for the school board with support from NYCC.
The changes that Touré hopes the school board will be able to institute are to increase transparency, scrutinize the budget to eliminate waste, reform corrupt practices and to launch a search for a new superintendent.
Maryann Sinclair Slutsky is the executive director of Long Island Wins, a communications organization promoting common-sense policy solutions to local immigration issues. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.