These are lessons that Mandie Landry’s parents instilled in her and helped make her the person she is today.
Working Class Roots
Her parents, Cynthia and Dennis Landry, raised their three kids in a close-knit, Marrero neighborhood a few houses down from Dennis’ parents and not far from the home Cynthia grew up in. The couple both worked blue-collar jobs—Cynthia as a secretary and Dennis as a plumber, first with the local union and then serving for 30 years as the plumbing supervisor at Jackson Barracks. Like many parents, they wanted a better life for their kids, one with more opportunities. For the two high school graduates, education was a path to success – and stability.
“My parents’ entire goal during my childhood was for me to get a college degree,” Mandie says. “My dad expected us to know what was going on in the country and the world. The television was turned to the news as soon as he got home from work, we read the newspaper every day, and we learned how to think for ourselves. My parents would have been happy with me only going to college, but they were such supportive role models that I exceeded those expectations and eventually graduated from Georgetown Law School.”
Advocacy and Problem Solving
Mandie became the first in her family to graduate from college, and then spent two years in Washington, D.C., where she worked for a U.S. congressman and a senator, and as a policy assistant for Amnesty International, the international human rights organization. This experience further shaped Mandie’s drive to advocate and fight for the rights of others.
“I learned early on that you can’t stand on the sidelines when there’s so much injustice in the world,” Mandie says. “You have to take action.”
Mandie returned home to New Orleans in 2010 when her father was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. She and her family supported her father through this terminal illness, a cancer that he was exposed to while working to support his family. This was the hardest time in her life, but it also strengthened for Mandie something she knows to be true: that accessible and affordable health care is a right, and not a privilege.
Strong legal representation is another right that Mandie believes in. Every day of her 14-year legal career, Mandie represents the rights and concerns of her clients, and finds solutions to what often seem to be insurmountable barriers.
“A large part of what I do professionally is to bring opposing viewpoints together, in order to solve problems,” Mandie explains. “I will take that skill to the Legislature, and show my fellow legislators, for instance, how fair wages and benefits are a good investment for our state, and why a vote in favor of fair wages and affordable housing would benefit us all.”
Fighting for Women’s Rights
Mandie has been a volunteer and advocate for human rights and good public policy since college, when she interned, and then worked for, Amnesty International. In law school, she focused her time as a volunteer lawyer for indigent defendants; to this day she often represents clients, both civil and criminal, pro bono.
After moving home nine years ago, Mandie faced the stark reality of the difficulties that Louisiana women face. Women in Louisiana face high rates of poverty and maternal mortality, and every year the states passes new restrictions on their right to bodily autonomy. Mandie decided to shift directions in her career.
An experienced and talented attorney, she wanted to help in this constant battle. Now, as an attorney who represents one of the last three remaining abortion clinics in the state, she is able to use her legal knowledge, expertise, and commitment to help to protect women’s rights in Louisiana at a very critical time in our country.
“Louisiana has so many bad laws that hurt women, particularly poorer women and their families,” Mandie says. “I felt that it wasn’t enough for me to simply protest. I knew that I could do more. I wanted to provide my time and skills to help fight this battle.”
Representing District 91 with Vision and Leadership
Mandie’s home is in the 91st legislative district where she has been a neighborhood leader, currently serving as vice president of the Climana Neighborhood Association. District 91 reveals a microcosm of New Orleans with a mixture of different cultures, varied economics, numerous local businesses, and strong neighborhood leaders. What a diverse community like this needs in a state representative is someone who listens, finds solutions for complex problems, and takes action at the Legislature.
Mandie has been regularly meeting and listening to district 91 residents. They have told her what concerns them the most, such as:
Low wages and the lack of benefits needed to support a family;
A crumbling city infrastructure - despite being the state’s economic powerhouse;
Rapidly rising housing costs that are pricing out families that have lived here for generations, and preventing young adults from being homeowners; and
The constant erosion of women’s rights in a state that ranks as the worst for women and children living in poverty.
As a hardworking and dedicated community member, Mandie knows that these are not insurmountable problems – she sees many opportunities for improving lives.
“The people of Louisiana deserve better than this,” Mandie says. “They work hard and never give up – values that are at my core as well. I know how to reach and surpass goals and get things done, and as your representative, I will fight for what matters most and deliver results that my community can always count on.”
University of Notre Dame, 2000
Georgetown University Law Center, 2005
Association of Women Attorneys, board
Climana Neighborhood Association, vice president
Georgetown Alumni of New Orleans, vice president
Notre Dame Women Connect, national board member
Ogden Museum of Art, Kohlmeyer Circle
Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Blackstone Award
The Pro Bono Project, volunteer attorney and award recipient