Home / Spiffy's Blog / Luciana Elmais: Strengthening Brazilian Democracy
Luciana Elmais: Strengthening Brazilian Democracy

Luciana Elmais: Strengthening Brazilian Democracy


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Hey, gang! Spiffy here, back with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Luciana Elmais, co-founder and executive director of Legisla Brazil. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world. 

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Luciana! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?

Luciana: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! For starters, I realized that the Brazilian legislative branch operates far below its potential and systematically fails to address the needs of the population. Brazil has a 40% rate of political renewal in every election. However, simply changing elected officials is not enough to make politics work. In the last term, politicians scored—on a scale from zero to ten—an average of 2.8 in productivity. We believe that the key to unlock the potential of the legislative branch is by helping political cabinets deliver. To do that, we pull three leverages of systemic change: (i) diversify the talent of political staff, (ii) build capacity among current political advisors, (iii) promote accountability.

Spiffy: A worthy goal for sure! What motivates you to tackle this challenge?

Luciana: When a government is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets, it is better equipped to understand the needs of a broader range of citizens and develop policies that respond to those needs. A more diverse and inclusive government is also more likely to foster a culture of transparency and accountability, as individuals from different perspectives are more likely to challenge the status quo and question entrenched power structures. On the other hand, better management in government can lead to improved efficiency, better decision-making, and increased participation in the implementation of policies. I am passionate about these issues and want to see these changes for Brazil.

Spiffy: How would you describe the impact of your work?

Luciana: We have awakened the interest and will to work in politics in over 60,000 people all over Brazil. We created a path for people who wanted to work in politics but didn't have connections or political capital to do so. Our impact comes from the amazing work being done for the Brazilian population by the 178+ people whom we have allocated into cabinets. In addition, we can see how cabinets that have received one of our consultancy solutions are delivering on their campaign promises. Congress is the heart of our democracy, and improving the way business is done means improving our democracy as a whole.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by you or your organization. What impact does that make? 

Luciana: In 2022, we launched the Legisla Brasil Index, the first non-ideological and objective evaluation of parliamentary work that classifies politicians on a scale of 1-5 stars. In 4 months, the tool had 150,000 accesses and reached more than 30 press articles about the Chamber of Deputies. Lawmakers, parties, and civil society use the index as a diagnostic tool to improve their performances. With this tool,  the population is starting to have access to an evaluation of their elected representatives. The impact is that now people can have a better idea of whether their representatives are using all the tools that are available to deliver on their campaign promises.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Luciana: Legisla Brasil is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that strengthens Brazilian democracy, making sure elected officials and political parties are more capable to execute their missions. Our solutions are mainly focused on those who help politicians accomplish their work, driving change that starts within the system. We promote access for underrepresented groups to parliamentary advisory roles, diversifying the spaces of power; we also improve legislative governance of mandates and political parties with efficient management tools. We have worked with over 60 mandates from 15 different political parties and allocated over 178 people to work in the legislative branch.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Luciana—it’s been an honor!

Luciana Elmais began her career working in education and on the development of public leaders, later migrating to politics as a parliamentary advisor. Luciana holds a degree in public management (FGV-EAESP) and has worked at the Lemann Foundation and the Legislative Assembly of the State of São Paulo. In 2017, Luciana co-founded Legisla Brasil and is currently the executive director of the organization. (Nominated by Cristina Londoño of VélezReyes+. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 27, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.