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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, and a co-author of “Latinos in the United States,” a reference guide by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, published In 2002. She is a board member of the Arizona Latino Media Association and 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.