John Couriel, a former federal prosecutor, will be a new and energetic voice in Florida’s State Senate. He’s running to represent the community in which he lives, District 35, which runs along the coast of Miami-Dade County from Golden Beach to Homestead. It includes portions of Miami, Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Coconut Grove, South Miami, Miami Shores, Aventura, Sunny Isles, and other South Florida neighborhoods.
John was born and raised in Miami. His parents emigrated from Cuba as children in 1961. His father arrived through Operation Pedro Pan, an effort that helped settle thousands of unaccompanied Cuban minors in the 1960s; he lived in camps run by the Catholic Church for about five years. John’s parents embraced the American Dream: they married, became U.S. citizens, and started a family. They worked hard — John’s dad sold tile and his mom was a secretary — and saw to it that their kids did, too. Thanks to that hard work, John had the kind of upbringing his grandparents wanted for their family: he went to Catholic school, became an Eagle Scout, and was active in his community.
John worked his way through Harvard College, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 2000, and Harvard Law School. In 2003 and 2004, he clerked for the Honorable John D. Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. For five years, he practiced law at Davis Polk & Wardwell, where he worked on many significant transactional and litigation matters, especially in Europe and Latin America. In 2009, he accepted an offer to return home as an Assistant United States Attorney. As a federal prosecutor, John brought scores of defendants to justice, focusing his efforts on Medicare fraud, identity theft, migrant trafficking and immigration crimes, violent crimes, and firearms offenses.
John is married to Rebecca L. Toonkel, M.D., a pulmonologist. Rebecca, a native of North Miami Beach, met John when they were high-school debaters. They were classmates at Harvard College. Rebecca trained at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Columbia University’s New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Jackson Memorial Hospital. Their son, Jonas Aaron, was born in March 2011, and their daughter, Eden Sofia, was born in July 2012.
Find John Couriel on Google+.