Alejandra Campoverdi’s resume is astoundingly impressive: Harvard graduate, the first White House Deputy Director of Hispanic Media in history under President Barack Obama, and one-time congressional candidate, just to name a few of the headlines. She would say the role of her lifetime – women’s health advocate – bloomed years before, in a small, cramped apartment in Los Angeles, surrounded by the matriarchy that was her immigrant family.
“I was raised by a single mother who had recently immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, and by my grandmother, who was like a second mother to me,” she remembers. “The majority of my childhood was spent crammed in a three-bedroom apartment with up to eight of members of my family at times. We didn’t have a lot of resources but there was a lot of love.”
Alejandra was close to her grandmother in particular, a woman she describes as being all about faith and family, who’d devotedly deliver a cup of coffee to a homeless man they’d see on their way to school each morning, and leave piggy banks by her bed to remind her of the importance of giving money to charity. Years later Alejandra would realize the impact of her grandmother’s lessons.
“It was her influence that planted the seed for my own life in public service. Even though we weren’t in a privileged position ourselves, she was always looking for ways to help others. No matter how little you had, there was always something you could give.”
Alejandra was an enthusiastic student, active in student government, choir, theater, and campus ministry. At an early age she took on leadership roles, exploring and creating a new world around her. School became a safe haven, a place where she could focus, read and write, and achieve a sense of accomplishment and validation.
“Many times, the children of immigrants take on a role of being the connectors in a family,” she explains. “Whether they are translating or navigating forms, they serve as a bridge between cultures in many ways. I learned early on that I had a responsibility to connect dots for my family, which makes you pretty self-reliant at an early age. You grow up faster.”
Alejandra went on to study at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, then on to Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where she earned a master’s degree in public policy. When she graduated in 2008, she was thrilled to be able to finally put everything she’d learned into action.
“I never dreamed I would end up working in the White House. Serving as the Deputy Director of Hispanic Media was a full circle time for me and one that I’ll always cherish.”
Her position in the Obama administration also gave her a front-row seat for what ultimately became the passing of the Affordable Care Act. “It was a very emotional time for a lot of us. We all came together for a toast, including the president. It was a meaningful moment, celebrating that so many more people would now have access to quality affordable healthcare.”