A lifelong New Mexican dedicated to public service
Michelle Lujan Grisham is a dedicated public servant who has spent her career fighting for all New Mexico women and families — especially the most vulnerable. A proud 12th generation New Mexican, Michelle ran for governor of this diverse swing state in a highly competitive race to fill an open seat. A three-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives who recently served as chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Michelle is a powerful advocate for working families who don’t have a seat at the table. Michelle was born in Los Alamos and raised in Santa Fe in a family with a strong tradition of service. Her father, a dentist, provided free care for thousands of members of their community who were in need, and her grandfather was the first Hispanic chief justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court. After graduating from the University of New Mexico and its law school, Michelle worked for the state bar’s lawyer referral for the elderly program, providing free legal advice to seniors. She served as director of the state agency on aging for 14 years, pioneering innovative practices now used nationwide, including “granny cams” and undercover inspections of nursing home facilities. In 2004, Michelle was appointed secretary of the Department of Health, New Mexico’s largest state agency, where she expanded the number of school-based health centers, banned junk food from schools, and instituted teen pregnancy prevention programs. After leaving state government in 2007, Michelle co-founded and worked as president of a successful small business to help to provide access to health insurance to New Mexicans who were denied coverage by overseeing the state health insurance pool. She won a seat on the Bernalillo County Commission, serving the state’s most populous county before winning an open seat in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in 2012 with the full support of the EMILY’s List community.
A champion for women and working families
Upon taking office, the congresswoman quickly made her presence felt on Capitol Hill. She was elected as one of the freshman Democratic class presidents, became a whip for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and was placed on three committees. As a single mother of two daughters, a grandmother, a caregiver for her mother, a widow, and a small business owner, Michelle’s personal experience informs her work as a powerful advocate for New Mexican women and families. Michelle tirelessly defends a woman’s right to choose from relentless Republican attacks. And as Republicans dismantle the Affordable Care Act, Michelle will fight to ensure that New Mexico women have comprehensive health care, including access to safe and affordable contraception. Health care is an issue of personal importance to Michelle: her sister Kimberly was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was just two years old, and quickly exhausted her lifetime caps on her health insurance. Michelle’s family lost Kimberly when she was 21, and her parents spent decades after her death using every resource they had to pay off the debt. Michelle’s core values were shaped by this experience, and she has spent her career improving access to affordable health care. Michelle is opposed to the Republican policies that are inciting fear and separating families who are contributing to our communities and our economy. As governor of New Mexico, Michelle will continue to work with business, faith, and community leaders to advocate for immigration reform with an earned path to citizenship — policies critical to the fight for women’s equality that will allow undocumented women facing exploitation and discrimination in the workplace to come out of the shadows and legally enter the job market to pursue the American dream.
An historic victory
Michelle is poised to serve as another powerful example of the impact women in executive leadership positions can make. As director of several state agencies under both Democratic and Republican governors, commissioner of New Mexico’s most populous county, and as a member of Congress, Michelle has already made a dramatic difference in the lives of thousands of New Mexicans. No state had ever elected a Democratic Hispanic woman to serve as governor, and Michelle is the first — giving millions of women and families a powerful new voice at the table. New Mexico is ready to move forward — and Michelle will lead the way. Michelle has been our champion in Congress, and now the EMILY’s List community is proud to have helped elect her to a powerful executive leadership position where she can make an even greater impact.