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Santos got her start in journalism in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, her home country. She speaks four languages – English, Portuguese, Spanish and French – and has reported in three of them, in Latin America and the United States. Her coverage of demographic changes in New England’s first majority-minority city won a Sigma Delta Chi Award in Public Service by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Her story about a young man’s first year of freedom after a wrongful conviction was nominated for a Livingston Award. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Silurians and the Associated Press Media Editors. Jill Abramson, a former executive editor of The Times, once called her "the bard of the Southwest."
Santos is a recipient of the Kiplinger, International Reporting Project and Casey Children and Family fellowships; a co-author of “Latinos in the United States,” a reference guide by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, published In 2002; and a member of the faculty of the Poynter Institute's Power of Diverse Voices seminar, which helps journalists of color find their voice and learn the skills needed for essay and opinion writing. She is a board member of the Arizona Latino Media Association; a volunteer at the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that teaches middle- and high-school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age; and vice president of The Sauce Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for pancreatic cancer research at TGen and journalism scholarships at Cronkite.