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April 4, 2016

Women in Government With Nydia Velasquez

St. Francis College Scholar in Residence Joan Millman presented the second lecture in her series on Women in Government, hosting Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez on April 4, 2016.

Watch Nydia Velasquez

Congresswoman Velasquez was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House. Representing parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, Velasquez works to promote economic development while fighting for affordable housing, quality education, and health care for her constiuents.

Millman, a former State Assemblywoman hosted her first lecture at St. Francis as part of Women's History Month with State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and State Senator Roxanne Persaud. (Watch Jo Anne Simon and Roxanne Persaud

Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez Congresswoman is currently serving her twelfth term as Representative for New York's 7th Congressional District. In the 114th Congress, she is the Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee and a senior member of the Financial Services Committee.

She has made history several times during her tenure in Congress. In 1992, she was the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In February 1998, she became the first Hispanic woman to serve as Ranking Member of a full House committee. Most recently, in 2006, she was named Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Latina to chair a full Congressional committee.

Born with humble roots in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico - a small town of sugar-cane fields - Velasquez was one of nine children. She became the first person in her family to receive a college diploma after entering the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras at the age of 16. She graduated magna cum laude in 1974 with a degree in political science. After earning a master's degree on scholarship from NYU, Velázquez taught Puerto Rican studies at CUNY's Hunter College in 1981.

But her passion for politics soon took hold. In 1983, Velázquez was appointed Special Assistant to Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn). One year later, she became the first Latina appointed to serve on the New York City Council.

In 1992, after months of running a grassroots political campaign, Velázquez was elected to the House of Representatives to represent New York's 7th District. Her district, which encompasses parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is the only tri-borough district in the New York City congressional delegation. Encompassing many diverse neighborhoods, it is home to a large Latino population, with pockets of Polish communities, and parts of Chinatown.

As a fighter for equal rights of the underrepresented and a proponent of economic opportunity for the working class and poor, Congresswoman Velázquez combines sensibility and compassion, as she works to encourage economic development, protect community health and the environment, combat crime and worker abuses, and secure access to affordable housing, quality education and health care for all New York City families.

St. Francis College Scholar in Residence Joan L. Millman represented the 52nd Assembly District in the New York State Assembly from 1997 until her retirement in 2014. A life-long educator, Millman spent over three decades working on behalf of New York City's children prior to entering the Assembly where she was a leading advocate on senior and educational issues and for consumer rights. As an Assemblywoman, Millman built a reputation for integrity, independence, and compassion. She served as Chair of the Assembly's Standing Committee on Aging as well as the Assembly Committee on Election Law where she worked to increase access to voting, limit the influence of special interests in elections, and level the playing field between political candidates. Assemblywoman Millman was an early advocate for the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park and worked to revitalize the entire Brooklyn waterfront. She has been on the forefront of the struggle to clean up the Gowanus Canal and adjacent properties, led the fight to keep Engine Company 205 open, and has also been a leader in the fight to save Long Island College Hospital; in both the firehouse and LICH campaigns, Millman was arrested protesting the proposed closures.

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