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Nydia Velázquez


Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 12th district
Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Major Owens

Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 4, 2007
Preceded by Donald A. Manzullo

Member of the
New York City Council
from the 27th District
In office
1984

Born March 28, 1953 (1953-03-28) (age 56)
Yabucoa, Puerto Rico
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Paul Bader
Residence Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Alma mater New York University (M.A.)
University of Puerto Rico (B.A.)
Occupation college professor
Religion Roman Catholic

Nydia Margarita Velázquez (born March 28, 1953) is a Puerto Rican American politician who has represented New York's 12th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives since 1993. She was the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress. She is currently serving as the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, until January 3, 2011.

Contents

Early years

Velázquez, whose father worked the sugar cane fields, was one of nine siblings born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. She was raised with the influence of political dinner table conversations. Her father was a local political activist and, from a young age, she would accompany her father to political rallies. Her father would focus on the rights of sugar cane workers and denounce the abuse perpetrated by wealthy farmers.

After skipping a grade, she entered high school when she was 13. In high school she organized her classmates on a protest and the school was closed down. Their protest against the dangerous and unsanitary conditions of the school caused the necessary renovations to be made.

In 1969, when she was 16, she enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico (Universidad de Puerto Rico). In 1974 she graduated magna cum laude and became the first one in her family to receive a college diploma. She then went to New York City, where she attended and studied political science, on a scholarship, at New York University. In 1976 she received her Master's degree.

Velázquez was a university professor for many years, first in the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, (1976–81) and then at New York's Hunter College (1981–83).

New York City Council

In 1983, she was appointed Special Assistant to Representative Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn). In 1984, she became the first Latina appointed to serve as a member of the New York City Council. In 1986, she served as the Director of the Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs of the U.S. During that time, she initiated a successful Latino empowerment program called "Atrevete" (dare to go for it).

In Congress

In 1992, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York's 12th District (map), and became the first female Puerto Rican member of Congress. The sprawling 12th district encompasses parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Lower Manhattan. It includes such neighborhoods as Ridgewood, Maspeth, and Woodside in Queens, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Red Hook, and Sunset Park in Brooklyn and part of Manhattan's Lower East Side. She also became the first Hispanic woman to serve as Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee. She oversees federal programs and contracts totaling $200 billion dollars annually. She also serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

During her campaign for the House seat, her medical records, including documented clinical depression and an attempted suicide, were leaked to the press. She quickly held a press conference and said that she had been undergoing counseling for years and was emotionally and psychologically healthy.[1]

Her district is the only one in New York City that covers residential areas of three boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan). Charles Rangel's district, the Manhattan-based 15th Congressional District, also includes parts of the Queens and The Bronx, but the district's only territory in The Bronx is the Riker's Island jail.

On September 29, 2008, Congresswoman Velázquez voted in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. On November 19, 2008, Congresswoman Velázquez was elected by her peers in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to lead the group for the 111th Congress.

Prior to removing her name from consideration, she was considered a possible candidate to be appointed to the United States Senate by Governor David Paterson after New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was nominated by President Barack Obama's cabinet.[2]

Velázquez "firsts"

On April 3, 2003, Velázquez was named "Hispanic Business Woman of the Year" by Hispanic Business magazine, becoming the first woman to be named as such, in recognition of her national influence in both the political and business sectors.

Among her "firsts" are: the first Hispanic woman to serve on the New York City Council; the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in Congress; the first woman Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee. Velázquez became first woman to chair the United States House Committee on Small Business in January 2007 and thus the first Hispanic woman to chair a House standing committee.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus (Chairwoman)
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • Women’s Issues Caucus
  • Out of Iraq Caucus
  • Asian Pacific American Caucus
  • Congressional Caucus on the Census
  • Congressional Children’s Caucus
  • Congressional Jobs and Fair Trade Caucus
  • Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community (EZ/EC) Caucus
  • Human Rights Caucus
  • Older American’s Caucus
  • Urban Caucus

See also

Footnotes

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Luis Olmedo
New York City Council, 27th District
1984
Succeeded by
Victor Robles
Preceded by
Donald A. Manzullo
Illinois
Chairman of House Small Business Committee
2007–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Major R. Owens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 12th congressional district

1993 – present
Incumbent







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