Syrita Steib was born at Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital, and at the age of four, Syrita moved from Reserve to Back Vacherie. Syrita is the oldest daughter of a retired Worker’s Compensation Judge and retired Radar Coordinator at Marathon Petroleum Corporation. Both parents instilled the values of education, hard work, and community, which she carries in her career, leadership and life.
Syrita’s love for education began in the heart of the river parishes at Vacherie Primary and Elementary Schools. Syrita’s mother and father encouraged excellence in education. Syrita developed a passion for Science due to the many educators she has in her family. Syrita graduated in the top 10 in her class from St. James High School and received a full scholarship to Xavier University in Physics and Engineering. Syrita was also involved in athletics, participating in multiple team sports. These activities stressed collaboration, courage, and leadership. These early experiences also developed Syrita into an effective leader and demonstrated her ability to work with individuals with diverse backgrounds and values.
After one year in college, Syrita withdrew from Xavier University and joined the United States Navy where Syrita was training to become an Electronics Technician (ET). Unfortunately, the Armed Forces during the Clinton Administration didn’t have the pay scale it did today. Syrita wasn’t able to make ends meet and ultimately some of her decisions led to her being incarcerated. President Donald Trump later pardoned Syrita.
After returning home, Syrita started over and began to rebuild her life with the values instilled by parents as guidance. While working construction in Memphis, Syrita married and became pregnant with her first child, Ethan Patrick Martin. While pregnant, Syrita moved back to Reserve and enrolled at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. In 2014, Syrita earned her Bachelor’s of Science from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and graduated Cum Laude. She is nationally certified and licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist. Immediately following her graduation, Syrita began working at four different hospitals – Ochsner in New Orleans, Touro, Slidell Memorial, and West Jefferson while applying to medical schools.
In 2016, Syrita followed her heart and commitment to the community and created Operation Restoration (OR). OR’s mission is to eradicate the roadblocks women and girls face when returning home after incarceration. Syrita envisioned a community support system for women impacted by incarceration through education. Syrita began to fulfill this vision in 2017 when she helped to write and successfully advocated for the passage of Louisiana Act 276. This legislation prohibits public post-secondary institutions in Louisiana from asking questions relating to criminal history for admissions—making Louisiana the first state to pass this type of legislation.
Syrita’s notable work in advocacy, criminal justice reform, and policy has received local and national recognition. Syrita is a sought-after expert who regularly speaks at conferences across the nation about the experiences of incarcerated women. In 2018, she was a co-chair for the healthy families committee for New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s transition team. Syrita was also a panelist on the Empowerment stage at the Essence Festival in 2018 and 2019 and 2021. In 2020, she was also selected as a Rubinger Fellow with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and an Unlocked Futures Fellow with New Profit and John Legend.
Syrita has served as a policy consultant for Cut50’s Dignity for Incarcerated Women campaign and worked on the passage of the First Step Act. Governor John Bel Edwards appointed Syrita to the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Oversight Council, and Syrita served as the Vice-chair for the Louisiana Task Force on Women’s Incarceration. She also co-curated and was featured in the Newcomb Art Museum’s Per(Sister) exhibit, which shared the stories of currently and formerly incarcerated women. She also served on District Attorney Jason Williams’ Transition committee, Protect Vulnerable Communities Committee.
Yet, the two most essential roles Syrita has are as wife and mother. In 2020, Syrita married Montrell Carmouche, and they welcomed Saige Katherine Carmouche into their family, which made Ethan a big brother. As a wife, mother, small business owner, and founder/executive director of a non-profit, Syrita understands the challenges we face daily in Louisiana. She will take a common-sense approach to work with stakeholders across diverse backgrounds and political parties to give Louisiana the strong voice in Washington we deserve. She will continue supporting our school systems, working to create jobs, improving our infrastructure, and fighting to expand economic opportunities with a focus on rural communities, which have been forgotten.