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Changing the World One Community at a Time

When Hurricane Maria devastated San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2017, Carmen Yulín Cruz was on the front lines as the island’s 3.2 million residents responded to the devastation which rippled beyond physical destruction to financial, political and humanitarian suffering.

“In San Juan, we learned that our communities and our civil society was eager, able and efficient at aiding our people when the crisis happened,” Cruz says. “People in the communities were knowledgeable about the needs and the solutions in a tangible, targeted way that government agencies could not provide.” 

Cruz, who was mayor of San Juan for eight years, now works with universities and nongovernmental organizations to advocate for crisis response on a community level. On Jan. 18, she will speak at North Carolina State University for the 2024 Eloise S. Cofer Family Living Lecture Series. Anchored around themes of community engagement and leadership, her lecture will emphasize how local actions lead to global impacts. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. in the James B. Hunt Jr. Library Auditorium.

“It’s now my life’s devotion to ensure our communities are the ones who have the primary voices on how their problems are looked at, addressed and dealt with,” Cruz says.

Hosted by the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Eloise S. Cofer Family Living Lecture Series brings in guest speakers who are renowned women leaders in human sciences working to nurture meaningful connections among food, family and community. Past lecturers include chef and restaurateur Cheeti Kumar, autism advocate, best-selling author and agricultural innovator Temple Grandin, and award-winning chef, TV personality, author and NC State alumna Vivian Howard.

To reserve a free ticket for this event visit:

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.