Nydia Velazquez

Nydia Mar­gari­ta Velazquez was born March 28, 1953 in Yacuboa, Puer­to Rico.  She is a 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.  She is serv­ing as the chair of the Con­gres­sion­al His­pan­ic Cau­cus, until Jan­u­ary 3, 2011.

Her father was a local polit­i­cal activist and from a young age, she would accom­pa­ny her father to polit­i­cal ral­lies.  His focus was on the right of sug­ar cane work­ers and denounc­ing the abuse per­pe­trat­ed by wealthy farm­ers.

At 16 she enrolled in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Puer­to Rico (Uni­ver­si­dad de Puer­to Rico) in 1969 and in 1974 she grad­u­at­ed magna cum laude, becom­ing the first in her fam­i­ly to receive a col­lege diplo­ma.  After receiv­ing her Master’s degree in 1976, she became a uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor, the first in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Puer­to Rico’s Humacao branch 1976 – 1986 and also at Hunter Col­lege 1981 – 1983.

In 1992 she became the first female Puer­to Rican who was elect­ed to the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, rep­re­sent­ing New York’s 12th Dis­trict, which cov­ered parts of Brook­lyn, Queens and Low­er Man­hat­tan.  She also became the first His­pan­ic woman to serve as Rank­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Mem­ber of the House Small Busi­ness Com­mit­tee over­see­ing fed­er­al pro­grams and con­tracts total­ing $200 bil­lion dol­lars annu­al­ly.

Velazquez was named “His­pan­ic Busi­ness Woman of the Year” on April 3, 2003 by His­pan­ic Busi­ness Mag­a­zine, becom­ing the first woman not­ed for her recog­ni­tion of her nation­al influ­ence in both the polit­i­cal and busi­ness sec­tors.