Leading by Example

Lucia and Mark Savage: A Changemaker Couple

Lucia and Mark Savage have been supporting UnidosUS’s mission over the last 23 years. Before then, Mark was a civil rights litigator with Public Advocates, a San Francisco-based nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that fights poverty and racial discrimination.

This is where the couple connected with UnidosUS, then NCLR (National Council of La Raza), which was a client in about 20 cases. From issues of child lead poisoning to universal phone services and multilingual access, among others, “What was significant was that NCLR was working on fundamental issues to improve the community. And a core part of our [marriage] is to do that, as well,” Mark explained, adding, “This experience highlighted, for us, UnidosUS’s strong leadership and strategic acumen in working to improve the lives of people across the country.”

One of those civil rights cases, which involved a multicultural coalition that included UnidosUS along with Black, Asian, and disability-rights organizations, centered on utilities access and resulted in a settlement of $50 million to bridge the digital divide throughout California in 1999. Lucia noted, “That took forethought – to make sure that the direction tech was going in would serve a wider group of people.”

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From left to right: Lucia Savage, UnidosUS President Emeritus Raul Yzaguirre, and Mark Savage at the 2014 NCLR Capital Awards.

Lucia and Mark met as law school students in the late ’80s. “Each of us had decided we wanted to use these skills in a change-maker way,” Lucia explained. Bringing their individual worldviews to their partnership as a couple has had a multiplier effect. According to Mark, “We’re committed to supporting each other in our efforts to create change.” Making sure they’re working toward a better world is the couple’s mission and, according to Lucia, UnidosUS has been at the forefront of this goal.

“I can see the impact that UnidosUS has in my own community in East Oakland, [for example] how tech access helps high school students,” Lucia explained. “It’s the breadth and depth of UnidosUS’s work— the holistic approach to the range of communities’ needs— that’s so important. UnidosUS brings a strategic, balanced approach that is precious,” Mark shared, adding, “It will take a generation to fix some of the most serious problems that have been decades in the making…. UnidosUS is one of the few organizations that helps effectively sift through solutions.”

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