NYDIA VELáZQUEZ Biography - Polititians


Biography » polititians » nydia vel 225;zquez


Name: Nydia Margarita Velázquez                                                                   
Born: 28 March 1953 Yabucoa, Puerto Rico                                                           
Nydia Margarita Velázquez (born March 28, 1953) is a Puerto Rican 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.                                                                               
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 grades, 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's Humacao branch (1976–81) and then at New York's Hunter College (1981–83).       
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 "Muevete" (Move on).                                                   
In 1992, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New                   
York's 12th District (map),and became the first Puerto Rican woman 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.                             
Her district is the only one in New York City that covers residential areas of                     
three boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan). Charles Rangel's district, the                       
Manhattan-based 14th 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 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.