A champion for New York City working families
Nydia Velázquez grew up as one of nine children in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, a small town of sugar cane fields. Her father cut cane and made cinder blocks, and her mother helped make ends meet by selling food to other cane workers. She started school early, skipped several grades, and became the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She moved to New York City to attend graduate school with a scholarship at NYU and went on to teach as an adjunct professor at CUNY’s Hunter College. Nydia began her career fighting for New York women and families in 1983 when she was hired as a special assistant by Congressman Edolphus Towns, and one year later she made history as the first Latina appointed to serve on the New York City Council. She served as the director of the Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs in the United States, and initiated one of the most successful Latino voter registration programs in the nation’s history — "Atrevete" (Dare to Go for It!). In 1992 Nydia ran a successful grassroots campaign in New York’s Seventh District — a diverse district that encompasses parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Lower East Side of Manhattan — and became the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress. She is a tireless fighter for quality education, affordable housing, access to health care, and increased economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.
A powerful advocate for economic growth that strengthens communities
Nydia serves as the top Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, which oversees federal programs and contracts totaling $200 billion annually. She is a powerful advocate for American small business and entrepreneurship. “Small businesses are the engines of economic growth and our best hope for creating new jobs during tough economic times,” she has said. Nydia was named as the inaugural "Woman of the Year" by Hispanic Business Magazine in recognition of her national influence in both the political and business sectors, and for her longtime support of minority enterprise. She is a trailblazer, and made history as the first Latina to chair a House committee, leading the Small Business Committee for four years.
A trailblazer fighting for all New York City women and families
Nydia has dedicated her career to fighting for women and families whose voices aren’t often heard in Washington. She authored a law helping women-owned businesses win their fair share of federal contracts and worked toward expanding federal micro-lending programs that have helped many women launch their own enterprises and achieve economic empowerment. The EMILY’s List community is proud to stand with her as she continues fighting for all New York City women and families to have a fair shot.