What I Learned The Other Day from Ileana Ros-Lehtinen


I’ve known the name Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for as long as I can remember.  She first became involved in politics in 1982 as a member of the Florida state House of Representatives.  She moved on to the state senate and, finally, the U.S. Congress as a Republican representative for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, a position she has been re-elected to 10 times.  

While I don’t agree with with many of Ros-Lehtinen’s stances (she’s anti-choice and hawkish, among other things), there are some I do (she’s fiercely pro-gay rights).  Regardless, I respect her for what she’s accomplished and I believe she’s smart and well-spoken.  She’s a frequent guest on Real Time with Bill Maher and always holds her own against a usually more liberal panel.

And now, to the crux of my story.  When I was last in Miami, my parents and I decided to kill an hour by heading to one of the Cuban restaurants, where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came — Casa Larios.  We’re sitting at the bar, and my parents mention that Ros-Lehtinen is sitting behind us at a table with her husband.  I get excited because I had just seen her on Real Time, they urge me to go up and introduce myself, I say no…this little dance goes on for a few minutes.

Then we notice that they’re getting up to leave.  I quickly work up the nerve, grab my business card and stop them while they’re almost out the door.  We end up speaking for a few minutes — she’s a fan of the magazines I work on, they want to know where I live in Brooklyn, we exchange business cards, etc — and it was all very pleasant and quick.  

Fast forward to last week, and a letter reaches me in the mail at work from: 


Here’s what she had to say:


I was floored.  Okay – it’s clearly a form letter with a few key identifying factors inserted, but, still, it’s impressive and there’s even a personal note.  This was thoughtful and precise and the workings of a true politician.

Now I totally get how she became the first Cuban-American elected to Congress and one of the highest-ranking women in Congress.  My takeaways?  Pay attention, follow up…and never miss a visit to Casa Larios.

Posted by: Mariela


2 responses to “What I Learned The Other Day from Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

  1. sharksandsailors

    AND… always listen to your parents. Well, when they’re right at least.

  2. She even sends congratulatory letters to high schools kids on First Honors like your Goddaughter. She’s amazing !

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