A champion for California women and families
Grace Napolitano grew up the daughter of an immigrant single mother who taught her the value of hard work. Grace’s parents divorced when she was three years old. Her mother was a teacher in Mexico, but when she couldn’t get a similar job in the U.S., she took whatever job she could find to support her two children and eventually was able to buy her own home. Grace started working when she was 12 to help support her family. Her jobs included babysitting, working at a five-and-dime, and later working as an office clerk for a county judge for 25 cents an hour. She married and moved to California after graduating from high school. Grace worked as a stenographer and a secretary, raised her five sons, and cared for foster children in addition to her own family. She began her 30-year career in public service when she was elected to Norwalk City Council in 1986 — becoming the first Latina to do so — and in 1989 Grace’s fellow council members selected her to serve as mayor. As Mayor of Norwalk, she addressed the city's need for jobs and reliable public transportation. Grace was elected to the California assembly in 1992, and she quickly earned a reputation as a tireless champion for economic growth, environmental protection, transportation, immigration, small businesses, and women’s health and economic security. Grace won a successful grassroots campaign for Congress in 1998, and since taking office she has fought tirelessly to give all Californians a fair shot.
A strong advocate for mental health care, gun safety, and working families
Grace is a longtime advocate for mental health care. Her 2001 pilot program providing mental health and suicide prevention services on-site in four schools has expanded to 25 K-12 schools and serves as a model for the Mental Health in Schools Act. She is the founder and Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, and she was instrumental in securing mental health parity in the Affordable Care Act. Napolitano was appointed by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi under the direction of Vice President Joe Biden to serve as a Vice Chair of the House Democratic Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Her main focus on the task force is the intersection of mental illness and gun violence, most notably suicide prevention. Grace is the most senior California member of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure where she currently serves as the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. She also serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources and is a longtime advocate for conservation, water recycling, desalination, and groundwater management as solutions to Southern California’s water needs. Recently as a conferee to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) House and Senate Conference Committee, she secured major victories for California, which will receive over $26 billion to fix crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems. Grace is dedicated to increasing opportunity for all Californians, and she continues her decades-long work standing up for labor unions, increasing access to quality health care, and fighting for women’s economic security.
An experienced leader standing up for California values
Grace was the fifth Latina ever elected to Congress, and she has fought tirelessly on behalf of the millions of women and families whose voices often aren’t heard at the table. Her personal experience being raised by a hardworking immigrant single mother makes her a powerful advocate for policies that give all Californians a fair shot. Grace has fought back against Donald Trump and the extreme Republican agenda. “A lot of people work very hard to have accomplishments in this country, much like many other immigrants from throughout the world,” she has said. “For [Trump] to not pay respect to the one minority that’s growing and will be a majority is a bad mistake.” The EMILY’s List community is proud of Grace’s continued leadership as she stands up for California values and works to move the Golden State forward.