Samra Brouk has been involved in volunteer work and activism in many areas

Samra Brouk, a former Peace Corps volunteer with experience in education and human services, is campaigning for the 55th state Senate District. State Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton, announced he isn’t seeking re-election for the seat.

Running on a platform of strengthening jobs, schools and democracy, Brouk said “our community deserves a strong and unifying voice in Albany.”

A Rochester native, Brouk attended schools in the Rochester City School District, and then Pittsford Central schools. On weekends she spent time with her grandparents in East Bloomfield and taught Sunday school at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Brouk, who lives in Rochester, cites her passion for helping people and commitment to values as the driving force behind her run for Senate.

Beginning in high school, Brouk said she has spoken out against injustice, campaigning against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where she worked three jobs to pay her tuition, she organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. “We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild,” she states in her campaign bio.

A graduate of Williams College with a BA in psychology and minor in Spanish, Brouk volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years with the U.S. Peace Corps. After returning to the States, she adopted a recycling education program for the Town of Brookhaven, a population of nearly 500,000 people in Suffolk County. She then spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

Brouk later joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, she helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care.

Most recently, Brouk drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, “the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system,” she said.

Democrats are eyeing Funke's district as the party seeks to widen its Senate majority, which already sits at 40-23. Democrat Jen Lunsford, a Penfield lawyer and activist, announced in September she would run again in 2020 for the district. Lunsford challenged Funke in 2018, losing by 4 percentage points, or 4,872 votes.