Student Leads Hometown to Census Success
When the coronavirus upended Maria Landron’s public information campaign to persuade Royal Palm Beach residents to fill out the U.S. Census, she pivoted to new strategies that propelled the village to success — and positioned it to receive coveted federal funding for roads, schools and services.
The village hired Landron, a senior public relations major, as an intern to direct its Census campaign — and she delivered. Royal Palm Beach’s 6.4 percent increase in response rate was the best among 10 Palm Beach County municipalities that participated in a Census League competition. The accomplishment earned Landron special recognition from local elected officials and census organizers alike, who praised her tenacity during a Nov. 19 Council meeting. A Palm Beach Post article highlighted Landron’s accomplishments.
The Census occurs once every 10 years and determines how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated, as well as how Congressional districts are drawn. Royal Palm Beach, with a population of roughly 40,400, saw a response rate of 76.5 percent.
Census Partnership Specialist Sandy Goodman said he communicated often with Landron, who had “phenomenal” ideas to promote the Census.
“You did it better than anybody with fewer resources assigned but a better plan,” Goodman said on the Council Zoom.
Wellington Councilman John McGovern said the village “led from start to finish.”
“Royal Palm Beach’s leadership and excellence in assisting residents in completing the Census and then sharing the ways you were doing it with other communities was true leadership and very helpful,” McGovern said.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said Royal Palm Beach hired Landron in part for her work on other campaigns that have gotten people interested and excited about initiatives.
“She put this program together from beginning to end and did an awesome job,” Liggins said.
At Palm Beach Atlantic, Landron excelled as a Freidheim Fellow in the LeMieux Center for Public Policy, researching U.S. immigration policy. For her capstone public relations project, she and a classmate visited the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona to design a humanitarian campaign their team then implemented. Recently, Landron received a Women of Distinction scholarship.
Circle K International, the largest service-leadership organization for college students, has recognized Landron with its Distinguished Chairperson Award. She has served in various leadership capacities and founded Palm Beach Atlantic’s chapter of CKI as an incoming freshman.
Landron thanked everyone, from the village staff to school principals and teachers, who aided her success.
“This was incredible during a time when we need to be more united than ever,” Landron said.” “The Census paves the way for local change.”
Photo 1: Maria Landron gives her Freidheim Fellows presentation. Recently, the Village of Royal Palm Beach lauded Landron for her work on their U.S. Census campaign.