Luis Toledo: a dad, husband, veteran, and public servant at heart.
Luis is the son of a Hispanic immigrant, is a U.S. veteran, and is a public servant at heart. He was raised by a single-mother, never met his father, and is the first in his family to graduate from college where he earned degrees in business administration, cybersecurity, and public administration.
For over a decade Luis has worked behind the scenes in federal and state government which has given him a firm understanding of various issues affecting North Carolina and our nation – and how they intersect. [Luis served at the U.S. Department of State working to address complex global issues, and is a former Assistant State Auditor with experience leading statewide assessments of government operations.] He understands business and technology as well and has led teams in different countries for a major global company. Luis is currently a public policy analyst at the NC Justice Center - a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating poverty and promoting social and economic justice for all in North Carolina.
Luis and his wife Krista, a professional engineer, are the proud parents of three children that attend PUBLIC schools (Orlando in middle school, Julian in elementary school, and Athena in daycare). Luis is active in the community, volunteering at local food banks and schools - and has even been a T-ball coach for the City of Raleigh little league and a youth soccer coach in the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL)/North Carolina FC Youth.
The son of a Hispanic immigrant, Luis was born in Houston, Texas. He was raised in a poor neighborhood by a single-mother. Because his mother's lack of opportunities prevented her from attending school and learning to read and write, Luis understood the importance of education at an early age. Growing up, even though his mom worked various jobs, the family still struggled. There were periods during which food stamps, housing assistance, and Medicaid helped put some food on the table, cover some of the rent, and provided some basic healthcare. It was at this young age that Luis realized that for many people having two or three jobs is sometimes not enough to get by.
Due to various struggles faced in Houston, Luis and his family picked up their few belongings and moved – and ended up by the beautiful mountains in the small western rural town of Marion, North Carolina. Luis attended the public schools of McDowell County – and proudly graduated from the only public high school in the county. To help his family pay the bills at home Luis worked two jobs while in high school – one at a healthcare product assembly line working 12 hour days on Saturdays and Sundays - and one at a restaurant during the week. Never forgetting the value and importance of education and feeling that it would be the only way out of poverty, Luis also attended the local community college, taking freshman college courses while still a senior in high school.
Serving our nation: A call to Public Service
After the attacks against the U.S. on 9/11, Luis felt the call to serve and defend our country and joined the U.S. military, where he served on active duty for four years in the U.S. Air Force. During this time Luis became a leader and was shaped by the Air Force core values: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Following his service in the military Luis joined a global consulting and technology company, where he led teams in 5 different countries. While he enjoyed working for a major business, he felt a void. He wanted to help fix and solve many of the pressing and emerging issues affecting our country and realized that public service was his true calling. Luis then pursued and earned a master’s degree in public administration to complement the business degree in cybersecurity that he had earned with the help of the G.I. Bill.
After earning his graduate degree Luis was chosen by the federal government to serve as a Presidential Management Fellow - and was selected by the U.S. Department of State to work on some of the most challenging global issues. For over three years Luis completed various tours, including assignments in Secretary Clinton's Office to work on Presidential Initiatives such as global hunger, and at the Pentagon as a member of the Joint Staff working on national defense and security issues. To advance U.S. interests and diplomacy around the world, Luis helped manage and assess billion dollar programs.
With a growing family and a desire to return home Luis and his wife left Washington, DC in 2012 and moved back to North Carolina.
Serving North Carolina: Ensuring Accountability and Promoting Justice
Upon returning to North Carolina, Luis joined the North Carolina Office of the State Auditor and immediately began to ensure effective accountability in our state by leading teams and finding out whether our state’s government programs were properly managed and effective. For his first assignment, Luis led a groundbreaking audit of the most expensive contract and largest IT project in North Carolina’s history: the $484 million State’s Medicaid Billing System. This audit that he led was selected from across all 50 states to receive an ‘Excellence in Accountability Award’ from the National State Auditors Association. During his four years managing state government audits, Luis identified major findings at state agencies and provided key recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly. His complex statewide audits covered a wide range of programs at agencies such as: Health and Human Services, State Board of Elections, Treasurer, Public Safety, Information Technology, and Public Instruction.
In January 2017, Luis joined the North Carolina Justice Center – a statewide nonprofit dedicated to economic and social justice and eliminating poverty across the state. As a public policy analyst, Luis conducts non-partisan research on the state and federal budget and assesses the role of public investments in our communities. His work informs major public debates and helps shape policy for the benefit of all North Carolinians.