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Andrea Stewart-Cousins

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New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins secured a place in the history books in 2012, when, after serving as state senator for nine years, she became the first woman in New York State history to lead a legislative conference. (She’s currently Democratic conference leader.)

Her rise to power did not come easily. As a teenage mother, Stewart-Cousins raised a child on her own while working her way up though both business and government. “Even then, women and people of color were limited in terms of what they could do,” she says. Undeterred, in 1992, Stewart-Cousins became the first African American director of community affairs in Yonkers. In 1996, she won a seat on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, where she served for 10 years before her election to the state senate in 2006.  

Her accomplishments are too numerous to list. As a county legislator, Stewart-Cousins passed Westchester’s first human-rights law to protect residents from discrimination, and as a state senator, she’s co-chaired the Senate Democratic Task Force on Minority and
Women-Owned Businesses. “You can help people realize their potential if you just remove the obstacles and barriers,” she says. Despite her many achievements, Stewart-Cousins has remained both humble and tireless. She says she hopes to be an inspiration to those who follow in her path. “I come from very humble beginnings, and I just hope to be that person who says, ‘It doesn’t matter where you start; it really matters where you end.’”

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