HHFA's "Sista to Watch" is:
Occupation: Democratic Conference Leader, New York State Senate
Hometown: Yonkers. NY
Follow her on Twitter: @AndreaSCousins
About Andrea Stewart- Cousins:
At the end of last year, Andrea Stewart-Cousins made history when elected by her colleagues as the first female leader of the Senate Democratic Conference in New York State.
She was first elected to the State Senate in 2006 and currently represents Greenburgh, part of White Plains, part of New Rochelle, part of Yonkers and Scarsdale.
Since the very beginning of her tenure in government, Senator Stewart-Cousins has espoused the values of empathy, empowerment and service. These values, coupled with her strong belief in advocating for the underserved and championing the needs of working families has distinguished her as a trailblazer in local and state government.
Her belief that creating change locally affects changes on the State level has driven her legislative and policy agenda at home and in Albany.
Currently Senator Stewart-Cousins is the Ranking Member of the Local Government Committee, and is a member of the Commerce; Environmental Conservation; Finance; Health; Racing, Gaming and Wagering; Rules; and Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committees.
HHFA recently asked Senator Stewart-Cousins about her career in public service and what advice she can offer to Black women across the country that also want to engage, advocate and lead.
Higher Heights: What inspired you to want to work in the political arena?
SEN. STEWART-COUSINS: I was inspired to enter the political arena because I care deeply about education. I believe it is a vehicle by which all people, children and adults, can reach their potential and achieve their dreams.
Higher Heights: What advice do you have for Black women that want to spark change?
SEN. STEWART-COUSINS: My advice for black women is to find your passion, educate yourself and reach for your goals. There are no limits to what you can do and where you can go, but it takes hard work and determination.
Higher Heights: What do you feel is the single most pressing issue facing Black women today and why?
SEN. STEWART-COUSINS: Education and jobs are the most pressing issues facing black women today. We must do more to make sure that black women have the opportunities and skills they need to achieve their goals.
Higher Heights: Tell us about a woman mentor that has helped you on your journey?
SEN. STEWART-COUSINS: New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery has had a major influence on my career as a Senator. She is currently the longest serving State Senate Democrat in New York, having served for over 30 years. She was the first African American woman Senator I had ever met and she really helped blaze the trail for African American women in New York politics. Her guidance and friendship have been invaluable to me in my journey as a Senator and now Conference Leader.