How can you Vote Like a Madre? Daniela Ochoa shares how she picks a candidate

courtesy of Daniela Ochoa

How do you Vote Like A Madre? A mother herself, Daniela Ochoa wants to vote for a candidate who is best for everyone. Not just her own kids, but all the children in the world.

Ochoa has a list of qualities she looks for in her leaders, a list that comes from her lifetime of learning and working to bring environmental solutions to communities in Latin America and the US. She knows that real solutions involve giving all of the local residents’ dignity and a voice in the solution. And she has witnessed communities reaping the rewards of an increased quality of life.

Ochoa has done a great deal of work to minimize her own footprint and to help communities do the same. But she knows that it’s not enough. “It doesn’t matter if you spend your life doing individual changes for climate if the leaders of the world — who have a way to nudge society and guide corporations — do not make the decision to help all of us.”

From a candidate for president down to the local level, Ochoa looks for simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. That may seem like a long list, but when she lays it out, they all fit together.

1. CLARITY: Trust your own gut

Daniela Ochoa

“Por favor, por favor mamás, listen to your entrañas.” It can be easy to get caught up in everything you are hearing, from social media, from the television, even from a pastor in your church. But Ochoa knows that “when you meet someone, you know in your gut how you feel about that person. Trust your own gut.”

A mother knows how to read emotional cues, and how to send them. Babies learn how to interpret the world by watching their mother’s expressions. “The kid in your arms learns the cues about emotion, when somebody’s happy, when somebody’s sad, by looking at their mom’s face.”

Underneath the bright lights and the campaign chatter, each candidate is a person. And if you are a mother, you know how to read that person’s body language. In fact, we all do — we just need to pay attention to our guts.

2. PEACE: What choice brings me more peace?

Nathan Fertig / Unsplash

Ochoa asks herself, “What choice brings me more peace? Who do I think will enhance more peace?” She is looking for peace of mind, peace in her local community, and peace on the global scale. Peace socially and peace environmentally.

If there is one thing everyone in the US can agree on, it’s that we are deeply divided right now. Will a candidate bring us together in our communities? Can they bring us together as a nation? Is the candidate going to make sure that the US can be trusted by the rest of the world?

Environmental justice is never far from Ochoa’s mind. Is a candidate committed to reparations for the environment? Will a candidate be a leader in regenerating our soils, our food systems, and fighting climate change?

3. INTEGRITY: What are the values we want to live by?

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It is easy to judge a person on their past mistakes, but only those among us without sin should cast the first stone. “No candidate is perfect,” but for Ochoa, it is about taking ownership of mistakes and moving forward. She looks for a candidate who is able to be honest about the road they have walked, and who is ready to transform themselves into the best possible person to walk the road ahead.

“Can you own your mistakes, recognize [them] and shift?” Ochoa wants to know. “Can you accept your weaknesses? Trace a plan for how the country will regenerate all of the things we have been moving away from as a society?”

Ochoa looks for a candidate that holds the values she herself wants to live by.

There are choices for Americans to make, as voters and as people, whether we want to live by individualism or through unity and cooperation. If we want to be isolated and live with a more selfish outlook, we will be raising our kids in a world where the biggest fish eats the little one. If we can realize that being mindful does not take away from your integrity, that “sharing is not losing,” we will be on the way to a world where every child has a chance to thrive.

4. COMMUNITY: Who is your candidate listening to?

Screenshot / Instagram

“Who is your candidate listening to?” Ochoa asks. Good leadership means listening to all of the people in your community — or if you are the president, all of the communities in your nation. That means listening to voices that have been silenced or are crying out in pain. Not just the voices that already have power.

“Are they listening to different communities that are crying out, or that are asking politely? Or are they listening to people that have interests at stake who are buying their agenda? Whether it is the fossil fuels, or whether they are listening because they have literally a gun to their heads?”

5. EQUALITY: Everybody needs to thrive

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When we vote, we elect a leader who will be responsible for the well-being of all. They must govern for everybody, not just those who voted for them or gave money to their campaign.

“Who are you serving?” If a leader serves only the wealthy, making the richest 1% “even fatter,” while the bottom 50% wait for crumbs to tumble down to them, how can that expand opportunities for everyone?

For our communities to thrive, we need to take care of everybody. That also means protecting the environment. Ochoa knows, “We need a planet to thrive for even business to thrive.”

6. STEWARDSHIP: What kind of stewards are we being?

A small child walks along a lake shore.

Guillaume de Germain / Unsplash

It may seem like we own things, even land, but the earth was here before any of us were, and it will be here when we are gone. What do we want to leave behind for our children, and their children after that? “What kind of stewards are we being?” Ochoa asks.

When you pledge to Vote Like a Madre, you pledge to vote for your children’s future.  Ochoa is looking for candidates who have a plan to leave our societies and our environment in better shape for her own children. And she is not just looking for stewardship in the candidates running for president. Up and down the ballot, she champions leaders who have a plan to take care of their part of the world.

When it comes to voting, NOT voting IS A VOTE!

A sticker that says I voted

Unsplash / Phillip Goldsberry

Not voting is just a vote — a vote for your voice to be ignored. Voting is part of our own stewardship, and we have to take it seriously.

Ochoa believes that there is more at stake in the ballot this year than there has ever been. Gathering her courage, she reaches out warmly to her friends, colleagues, and loved ones to discuss her ideas about this election. Healing the world and protecting all of the children in our lives is part of Ochoa’s stewardship.

Grateful for what she has received from her ethical ancestors, she is determined to pass it on for all of humanity’s descendants.

Where you put your money is where you put your power

A photograph of a few pennies in a jar, with a few coins next to it.


Voting does not end on November 3, or with the presidential election. Local candidates and congresspeople are just as important when it comes to making sure all voices are heard, and all of our communities have the best leaders.

And we don’t just vote in elections. “We vote every day, with our choices — those of us who have the luxury of making choices,” Ochoa says. Our choices about our own transportation, our food, and the amount of waste we produce affect the planet, but they also decide who has power. Where you put your money is where you put your power. Spending money on products for companies that are destructive gives them the power to continue with business as usual.

When we understand that our decisions have consequences, we know we need leaders that understand that as well.

More about this Voting Madre

Daniela Ochoa

Daniela Ochoa studied international relations and environmental policy. She focused on public-private partnerships from around the world that succeed in reducing waste and increasing recycling. Solutions are as unique as the communities they serve — environmental plans that work in Vancouver may be terrible for Buenos Aires, and vice versa. But no matter where a program is developed, involving the community is, “a better proposal than the traditional paternalistic handouts in Latin America.”

Using what she learned from her time in Curitiba, “the most environmentally friendly city in Brazil,” Ochoa got a grant to implement a program in five low-income semi-urban areas of her hometown of Morelia, Mexico. This program introduced a barter system for the collection of recyclables and resulted in community improvements like beautification and reduced crime, health benefits like better sanitation and nutrition from fresh produce, and reduced flooding for the neighborhoods involved.

More recently, Ochoa founded Washington DC-based Regenerative Solutions, which offers regenerative agriculture plans, zero waste assessments, composting, and other food waste reduction strategies. Fluent in four languages, she offers translations, edu-training, community organizing, and outreach in Spanish, French, or Portuguese.

On October 11, Daniela will be one of the thousands of presenters for the 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future.

Daniela Ochoa’s Green Exchange program in Morelia, Mexico

Learn more about Ochoa’s community based recycling program in‘s video:

Now it’s your turn

"You are wasting your money." Bottled water is 1,000x more expensive than tap — and probably not as clean.

Vote Like a Madre

Are you ready to follow in Daniela Ochoa’s footsteps and push for science-based climate initiatives? It starts with your vote.

We all have the power to protect the planet and preserve nature for our children. Make a Pinky Promise to your kids, and then make your plan to vote. Early voting has already started in some states, find out when it starts in yours! Just think the strides we could make if we all promised to Vote Like A Madre!

Disclaimer: This sponsored article was produced and distributed in partnership with Latino Victory Project, in support of the Vote Like a Madre campaign.

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