An Interview with Communications & Media Director for the Office Of Community Advocacy, Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, Griselle Marino.
Griselle is a five-time Emmy nominated journalist and recipient of two Emmy awards, currently serves Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, Office of Community Advocacy. Previously, she was the Director of Media for the Office of the Chair at the Board of County Commissioners. Before that, she served as the Public Affairs Manager for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the Office of Emergency Management. Her County service began in 2004 when she joined the Miami-Dade Aviation Department as an Information Officer. In the private sector, Marino joined Bay News 9 in Saint Petersburg, Florida as a news anchor. At the 24-hour news station affiliated with CNN, she covered local, national, and international news, including the end-of-life legal debate of the case of Terri Schiavo, the death of Pope John Paul II, and a one-on-one exclusive interview with Lord Spencer, brother of the late Princess Diana, among other stories. At Telemundo, Marino was the recipient of two Emmy Awards in the categories of writing and investigative reporting. Marino was also nominated for three other Emmy awards in public affairs reporting, writing, and investigative reporting. Her career as a reporter has given Marino the opportunity to interview several prominent leaders, including his Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and other world leaders. Marino graduated from FIU with a bachelor’s in mass communications and a minor in English. While finishing college, she interned w/Univision 23, and landed her first reporter's job at WSUA 1260 AM, Radio Caracol, where she interviewed U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot and former Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro. She later returned to FIU and completed two years of post-graduate legal studies (43 semester credits) to better understand legal reporting.
Q: What was your first job? And how did it shape or impact you?
GM: My first job was working as a Wendy’s cashier at age 16. That is when I discovered how much I enjoyed interacting with the public and providing customer service.
After finishing high school, I was hired by the original Pan Am as an International Customer Service Representative. Since it was only $10 each way to fly to Europe, Asia, and South America, I took advantage of the great perks. I was only 18 and was traveling first class, sitting next to businessmen who had paid thousands of dollars for the same seat. I believe I was hired being so young and with very little experience because I spoke several languages: my native Spanish, French from middle school and high school, and Portuguese that I learned by speaking to my first boyfriend. Actually, I spoke to him in Spanish and he would answer in Portuguese, so it forced me to learn another language quickly, lol.
Q: Tell us about your current position Communications and Media Director for the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners' Office of Community Advocacy?
GM: In my current position, I am responsible for Community Affairs and Communications for the Office of Community Advocacy, a division under the Board of County Commissioners. This position has been extremely fulfilling as I inform the public through traditional and new media platforms about the projects and events each board is working on to assist the target population they serve.
In our office we have the Asian-American Advisory Board, the Black Affairs Advisory Board, the Community Relations Board, Commission for Women, the Domestic Violence Oversight Board, Elder Affairs Advisory Board, Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board, the Interfaith Advisory Board, the LGBTQ Advisory Board, and the Miami-Goodwill Ambassadors Program. As part of my job duties I host a web/TV show in English and Spanish at “La Meca Radio” where I invite board members and their directors to speak about upcoming projects and/or events, as well as legislative proposals.
As you can tell, these boards represent the diversity of the minorities that make up Miami-Dade County.
Q: Can you share with our audience about the work you did to receive the high honor as a two-time Emmy award winning journalist and your recent accomplishments?
GM: I have five Emmy nominations and won two Emmy statues when I worked as a TV journalist. One of the stories was highlighting the sad life of some Colombian mothers who sold their children to fund their drug addiction and an organization that rescue these children providing them with the education and love they need. The second Emmy award for a sweeps story on Hurricane Andrew - 10 years later, it featured interviews with survivors and a psychologist, as well as the progress in construction code.
As to recent accomplishments, I was selected as the 2020 “In the Company of Women” winner in the Communications and Literature category. This is a very prestigious award and the ceremony is “Emmy” style, but the event had to be rescheduled to March 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is how they announced it: Griselle Marino is the winner in the Communications and Literature category for the 2020 In the Company of Women Awards! Two-time Emmy award-winning journalist and five-time Emmy award nominee, Marino’s expose of Cuba’s HIV-positive population confinement prompted the UN to declare it a human rights violation. Join us to honor Marino and other world-changing women at our In the Company of Women Awards Ceremony on March 19, 2020: https://bddy.me/2s9nzyj
In 2017, my alma mater, Florida International University School of Journalism featured me as a notable alumna. That same year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offered me a two-year appointment as a Media Relations Reservist in the External Affairs cadre.
I am very thankful to the Lord for all recognitions as I truly love to be able to earn a living fulfilling my passion.
Q: As News Anchor for Bay News 9 in St. Petersburg, what was one of your most memorable events you covered?
GM: Terri Schiavo was the most intensive story I covered at Bay News 9. Schiavo was a severely brain-damaged Florida woman who became a national symbol for how not to die in America. Schiavo had been kept alive by a feeding tube after collapsing in 1990 from full cardiac arrest that deprived her brain of oxygen. Multiple doctors diagnosed her as being in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband argued that his wife would never have wanted to live like that and attempted to get the feeding tube removed. Her parents disagreed and fought to keep her alive. After 15 years of legal debate and while I was in St. Petersburg, the courts sided with the husband and allowed her feeding tubes to be removed. My takeaway from that story is the importance of having a written advance directive instructing family members on what to do in end-of-life situations.
I also covered the local aspect of the death of Pope John Paul II and the disappearance and murder of Jessica Lunsford. Her case became a “cause célèbre” that influenced the introduction of legislation in Florida known as Jessica's Law, designed to protect potential victims and reduce a sexual offender's ability to re-offend, which has since influenced similar legislation in 42 other states.
A memorable interview while anchoring for Bay News 9 was with Princess Diana’s brother, Lord Earl Spencer. Before his interview, I had met Prince Albert of Monaco. Reflecting now, fifteen years later from those interviews, these two royals were very down-to-earth and modest, considering the type of privileged lifestyle they have always enjoyed.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
GM: When I started working in TV and needed to go LIVE, I was scared as if I made a mistake everyone would see it; a veteran reporter told me “FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT” – and it worked. I have been applying that concept in every area of my life as I think FEAR is what stops us and does not let us reach the full potential we were destined to achieve. It is better to do it and fail at it, than not to do it at all for the fear of failing at it.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
GM: It is important to identify mentors early in your career and to go to them when decision time arrives. Your loved ones may mean well but they are not subject matter experts.
Never give up, persevere, keep on trying; sometimes things don’t work out as we hoped but as life goes on, other doors open and then we realize we had to go through those dark moments in order to see the light.
Network: I had the opportunity to talk to the Michael Gorbachev’s media assistant in 2001 while at a nonprofit event. I asked him for an interview with Gorbachev and he declined but told me that perhaps one day in the future. He wrote my phone number, but I never expected he would be calling me two years later to offer an exclusive one-on-one interview with the first president of the Soviet Union and Peace Nobel Prize award-winner.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career in journalism?
GM: To be prepared to leave their beloved city and to go to smaller markets where they will have more opportunities to make their dreams come true. Sometimes we set goals and do not want to detour from the pyramid we envision but perhaps life has other plans, I suggest being open to change and to welcome flexibility instead of structure.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
GM: There have been many women in my life that have been inspiring starting with my mother who has PhD from Cuba and revalidated her degree in U.S. While studying in W. R. Thomas Middle School, my French teacher Teresita Rodriguez, as I wanted to be just like her and never forgot her face. She portrayed finesse and elegance. After graduating from high school, I worked for the airlines and learned volunteerism and fundraising from Alexandra Villoch, my General Manager. When I worked as a Paralegal for Roy Black’s office, I met attorney Maria Neyra who has very strong work ethics; we would work 18-20 hours a day preparing for trials. In the County, I have had the privilege of being involved with the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Campaign and serving in many roles for the past 13 years. Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak was the campaign’s chair twice and she displayed leadership skills I have never seen before; I learned from watching her in action. This year I am serving as the campaign’s Ambassador. I am also inspired by my current boss Laura Morilla, an attorney who has served #OurCounty minority boards for 26 years and advocates tirelessly on behalf of the community.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
GM: I feel that women have too many challenges that is why we have a Commission for Women which meets monthly. We are now having those meetings via Zoom. This year we had many events planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. Progress has been made but we are not there yet. More than half a century after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, African American women earn 54.4% less and Hispanic women earn 54.8% less than white men. This means these women need to work six months more to attain the earnings of white male workers. This is an ugly reality for single mothers and/or sole breadwinners. Miami-Dade County is nearly 70 percent Hispanic. Yet research shows over half of Americans do not even know the gender pay gap exists. Other women challenges are:
- Low representation, employment, and barriers to work in certain industries (such as the sciences) as well as a lack of women in positions of power such as heads of state or heads of companies
- Racism for non-white women including in healthcare from maternal mortality rates to pain management. U.S. Maternal Mortality rates rank the US 55th of all countries. Black and Indigenous women experience pregnancy related mortality at a rate of 40.8 and 29.7 respectively whereas white women’s rate is 12.7 (all out of 100k) which is still very high for a developed nation.
- Reliable and good medical care for all women (women, regardless of race, are not treated the same as men especially regarding pain leading to late diagnosis).
- Lack of affordable and quality childcare.
- An expectation to fulfill the caregiver role which can set women behind their male counterparts in careers and wages.
- Sexual harassment, assault, and/or abuse especially in “safe” spaces such as the workplace
- A deeply ingrained culture of sexism (overt and pervasive) and societal preference for patriarchal roles. This can be as simple as the words we use to describe men vs. women.
- Safe and accessible abortion access and rights
- Career vs. motherhood debate which does not exist for men.
- Trans women face discrimination in employment and are likely to experience physical and emotional abuse.
- Intimate Partner Violence
I do my part by shining a light on these disparities through events hosted by the Commission for Women, the Black Affairs Advisory Board, and our Community Relations Board but louder conversations on these topics are needed.
Q: How do you maintain a healthy work life balance?
GM: I stay active, spend time with my family, and I am always connected to work through technology.
Five Things About Griselle Marino
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Oprah Winfrey as I studied journalism to help people the way she does. She came from a very poor family and although she had the obstacles of being a double minority like me, she created a media empire. I think she is just amazing at what she does, and I love how she has helped girls and people all over the world. I admire her transparency and I emulate that concept in my everyday duties addressing the public, conveying the truth, and providing access to information.
2. If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?
I would settle for being a mermaid as that is the best of both bodies but since they are only fiction, I would choose a Dolphin. They are team-players and considered one of the world's most intelligent animals since they have several cognitive abilities that set them apart. Many researchers believe intelligence to be a combination of perception, communication, and problem-solving.
3. If you were a superhero, what would your special powers be?
I would love to have Superwoman’s special powers so I can fly, go through walls, and be super strong while maintaining feminine beauty. Her powers allow her to tackle obstacles with strength and grace.
4. What app can’t you live without?
It is very hard to choose one as technology changed the way we communicate. If I must pick one, it would be Outlook as I have access to my work emails 24/7, even when I am on vacation out of the country. I could not be as effective without it. I also love social media and check my Twitter feed the minute I wake up; it helps me for work as I read it before the daily newspaper. I am most active on Facebook as I manage nine pages for work and have my personal page where I keep in touch with the friends and relatives, I don’t have time to visit or even call on the phone. It makes me happy to watch their photos and read their stories. My sons mostly use Instagram and I use my account to keep tabs on them, lol.
5. What were you like in high school?
I was nerdy and not popular with my peers, just with the teachers and administrators. I was the teacher’s aide and worked in the principal’s office as part of the work experience program. I remember having a crush on a popular football player, but he would only date the cheerleaders, lol.