Danielle Cohen Higgins is a mother, attorney, volunteer, advocate, and small business owner, and that’s just the beginning. Beginning December 7th, she became the Miami-Dade County Commissioner for District 8. As the newest Commissioner on the board, she will serve as the only Black woman and as one of the youngest members on the dais. Yet her journey to public service has been anything but easy.
The daughter of Jamaican immigrants who came to the United States in search of better opportunities, Commissioner Cohen Higgins was born at Jackson Memorial Hospital and spent part of her early years living in what is now the Section 8 housing. She recounts that though her family was lucky enough to put food on the table, they seldom had room for what she calls ‘extras’.
And things got tougher. When she was in elementary school, a tragic curveball was thrown her way. At the age of eight, she lost her father. Her mother went on to raise her as a single mom, and with her love and support, Cohen Higgins found a way to keep going and growing, excelling in her studies and managed to graduate from Miami Sunset Senior High at the top of her class.
She is a proud product of public schools and earned a scholarship to the University of Florida – becoming the first to graduate college in her family. Her internal drive took her to law school at Florida State University, and following her graduation, she joined one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the country, Greenberg Traurig. She eventually harnessed her entrepreneurial spirit to start her own firm, handling civil cases.
Though she was always politically engaged, she says she first set her eyes on serving her friends and neighbors through elected office following the 2016 election. The rhetoric and vitriol of the political conversation differed significantly from what she knew to be the views of her community. Even if she has differences in opinion from others, she holds firmly that everyone in our community is driven by a similar set of values and aspirations – for freedom and a high quality of life. Those values inspired her family to come to Miami from Jamaica and they are the same ones she wants to uphold to deliver for her district and county.
She set forth, working hard to support the candidacies of qualified and principled candidates and eventually put her hat in the race for a County Commission seat vacated by our newly-elected County Mayor. But Cohen Higgins’ history with the County government started long before then.
While she was in middle school, Cohen Higgins led the effort to rename the street in front of her school after Pedro Zamora, a reality TV star who had graduated from that very middle school
and whose life was cut short by HIV. Putting together a coalition of youth voices and community leaders, she knew the street renaming would be a way to honor his memory and highlight the struggle of those living with HIV/AIDS.
Cohen Higgins is a proud South Dade resident along with her husband Mark, 8-year-old son Ari, and 15-month old daughter Sloan, who are a constant reminder to her of what’s at stake and why public service to empower and improve our community is vital.