Marili Cancio has dedicated her life to the law, her community, and her family. With over 20 years of experience, she has distinguished herself as one of the most admired community activists and respected jurists in South Florida.
As a Hispanic woman in a field mostly dominated by men, Marili has served in some of the most prestigious legal firms in Florida, leading her to establish her own law practice, a 100% woman-owned business. Equally as impressive is Marili’s commitment and determination to making our South Florida community a better place to live and work. Marili has given her time, generosity, and legal expertise to countless local community organizations and institutions.
From 2007 to 2009, Marili served as a Board Member to the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board where its primary mission is to foster mutual understanding, tolerance, and respect among all economic, social, religious, and ethnic groups in the county. Several organizations have recognized Marili’s commitment to causes and issues that better the lives of our residents and our community. Her advocacy of the Florida Legislature’s HB 111 “Witness Protection Bill” created a new exemption in Florida law that shields murder witnesses’ identities from being released in public records for two years after the crime was committed.
Moreover, Marili served as a member of the Miami-Dade County Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board (“HAAB”) from 2002 to 2003 then 2007 to 2010, and served as its Chair from 2006 to 2007. Marili has consistently advocated for “Dreamers” and utilized her position on HAAB to improve the quality of life of all Hispanic residents, encourage their involvement in matters of community concerns, as well as identify and monitor the needs and interests of all Hispanics.
From 2004 to 2005, she served on the Minority/Women’s Business Enterprise Advisory Board in Orange County, Florida–interviewing and qualifying small businesses on how to do business with government.
During the Obama Administration, Marili was one of the few Republicans invited twice to discuss economic policy as well as a new Cuba policy, demonstrating her ability and willingness to cross the aisle and work together in a bipartisan fashion for the good of the nation.
More recently, she was named Director of the Inspire America Foundation, a highly respected organization dedicated to fostering liberty and democracy in Cuba and throughout the Americas.
The first school Ms. Cancio attended as a child was St. Thomas the Apostle located within Senate District 40. After attending schools in Brazil, she enrolled in several community colleges, including Miami Dade College, before graduating from Eastern University in St. David’s, Pennsylvania, where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Management in 1993. She later earned her Juris Doctor Degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1996, and was admitted to the Florida Bar that same year. Putting herself through college, Marili understands the importance of offering higher quality education and affordability for all of Florida’s families.
From 2011 until her recent resignation to run for the Florida Senate, Marili served as a Trustee of the prestigious Miami Dade College, the largest institution of higher learning in the nation, giving students of every age, over 300 educational pathways to a career. She also served as Chair of the Association of Florida Colleges (“AFC”) Trustees Commission.
From 2004 to 2006, Marili served on the Leadership Council of the American Diabetes Association. In 2007, she began rendering extensive hours of pro-bono legal work to “La Liga Contra el Cancer” (The League Against Cancer) and continues to serve as its main pro-bono attorney. Marili served as a Commissioner to the Florida Healthcare and Hospital Funding Commission from 2015 to 2016,where she traveled the state attending forums regarding concerns about how to make healthcare more affordable for Florida’s families.
Ms. Cancio is happily married to Daryl Johnson. She has two adult children and has one grandchild and another on the way.
Marili and Daryl have two rescued dogs and enjoy spending any precious free time fishing and boating with family.
She fluently speaks Spanish and Portuguese – languages she mastered while living in Panama and Brazil. Marili is often asked to participate in radio and television programs to comment on local, state, and national events and issues.