The Women Who Dared Me To Lead.
“I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined.” — Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
As the only woman running for NYC Council District 18, in a race with six men, that quote hit me in the gut. Women in public service, especially women of color, have been told time and time again to sit down, keep our mouths shut, and not to think about making waves.But luckily, I was born and reared by two strong, selfless matriarchs who made sure that I never question my worth. They prove that women are powerful, that we women can lead.
Born and raised in the Bronx’s District 18, I grew up in a single mother household where I learned the values of perseverance, sacrifice and family. When my mother was pregnant in college, she put her professional dreams aside to raise me, her eldest child. And she’s been doing it on her own ever since.
When I was a child, there were nights when the dinner table was set, my younger brothers and I were generously served, and I went to bed with a full belly — not realizing that those nights, she was going to bed hungry.
My mother sacrificed so her kids could eat well and nourish themselves without worry. More importantly, she struggled so that the only thing we needed to focus on was our education and growing our potential.
Listening to my mother’s stories about my abuela, or what we all called her in my family, Mama, it’s clear where my mother inherited her sense of independence and selflessness. My grandmother came from Puerto Rico straight to District 18 and raised a big, beautiful family in the Bronx. In many ways, she’s your typical Puerto Rican abuela, but she’s special in how effortlessly she took in other abandoned children as her own. She fostered my mother and her twin when they were infants and held down the household, especially while my grandpa served in the army and worked long hours as a truck driver.
I will never forget what Mama told me: “You can be whatever you want to be, but make sure whatever you are, you’re always una gran mujer (a great woman).”
So I devoted my life to public service, working as a City Council Aide to manage the Women’s Caucus, advance policies that help NYC’s women and families, and increase democratic participation in immigrant communities through the Participatory Budgeting process. I want to use my unique experience and skills to provide my District 18 neighbors the best resources and services they need so that together, we can increase the opportunities to help District 18 thrive.
This isn’t just my mother and grandmother’s story. It’s the single mother’s story. It’s the immigrant family’s story. It’s the story of our community. It’s the story of the Bronx.
That’s why I’m running for office to represent you. And no, I’m not sitting down or looking back.
Who are the women in your life who dared you to lead?