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Shanae V. Williams, 28

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Shanae V. Williams began making things happen on the community level before she could even drive. From helping to distribute meals to the less fortunate to painting houses with Habitat for Humanity, Williams was always working to better her neighborhood in the city of Yonkers.

“I think the reason why I became active in my community is because I was raised in the Church,” she says. “It was instilled in me to serve others and give back.”

She’s parlayed those formative years into government-level work as a member of the Yonkers City Council, having previously served as the executive assistant to Mayor Mike Spano and as a business administrator in the New York State Assembly.

“The work I’m currently doing on the Yonkers City Council is focusing on the issues that are affecting the community most,” she says. That includes education, for which she’s fought in the state capital to get Yonkers’ fair share of funding.

Williams has also been instrumental in raising awareness and passing legislation around the “It Can Happen to You” movement, which addresses prosecutorial misconduct that leads to wrongful imprisonment. “That system is so broken; there is no oversight of prosecutors who are guilty,” she says. “It’s the profession with the most power that isn’t subject to oversight.”

“I am proud that I have a seat at the table where I can create resolutions and local laws and be a good resource that my constituents can turn to when they need help,” Williams says. 

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