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"The Cut" featured Pace alumna Andrea Stewart-Cousins in "How I Get It Done: Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Most Powerful Woman in the New York State Senate"

08/27/2019

"The Cut" featured Pace alumna Andrea Stewart-Cousins in "How I Get It Done: Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Most Powerful Woman in the New York State Senate"

Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the first female senate majority leader in New York’s history, and she had to fight hard for it. Last year, in a battle with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Stewart-Cousins helped disband the notorious Independent Democratic Conference (the IDC), eight senate Democrats who had helped keep Republicans in control of the chamber for nearly a decade. But the leader hasn’t had a typical political operative’s career. A single mom, she worked in sales, was a teacher, and got a degree in journalism before finding herself in city government. Now, Stewart-Cousins presides over the largest senate majority ever, with the most women members. She lives in Yonkers, and doesn’t show up at work without one of her signature scarves. Here’s how she gets it done.

On her morning routine:
I have my coffee, and I generally meditate for least 15, 20 minutes, grounding myself. I know my day is gonna be pretty … interesting, so I like to start from a calm space. My daughter will call me on her commute. I usually don’t eat, but if I do eat breakfast I will try and eat oatmeal with blueberries.

On not living in Albany:
I live in Yonkers, and when I go to Albany I have a room in a hotel. When I won my election, someone told me, “Don’t get comfortable in Albany.” I spend technically about half the year up there, but once session is done for the week I come right back down to the district, and it helps me to stay focused, frankly, on why I go there. Albany would be lonely, but my typical day doesn’t end at five. I’m usually out or in my office pretty late in the evening, so I’m just as happy to get back to the room and prepare for the next day.

On realizing she wanted to be in politics:
When I was in journalism school at Pace University, the professor assigned me to cover Geraldine Ferraro’s campaign on election night. She was the first woman who to be nominated by a major party, running for vice-president with Walter Mondale, and I think when I stood there with the election night unfolding, and with all of these reporters from all over the country talking to Geraldine Ferraro, that night planted the seed for me.

On her slow-burn career:
Am I ambitious? I’m committed. I’m committed to using the opportunities I have to do the things that I feel are important. I had a lot of different jobs, from customer service, sales, and marketing, to teaching journalism, that led me to public service, which, frankly, is the thing I was meant to do. From city government I went to county government. After serving with the mayor for four years, I said, right now I’m helping somebody implement their vision. If I’m elected on my own then I can implement mine.

Sometimes I’m underestimated, but once I began to believe in myself, it’s just been about pushing through. We all have self-doubt and we all are afraid to take on certain challenges. But once you’ve decided that this is the right thing to do, then go forward with full confidence. So do I “lean in”? Yes. But some people want the job because oh, well, then you have power. Power was never what drove me. I’ve always wanted to work in politics so that I could govern.

On her signature scarves:
My friend was the first African-American woman to be elected from the city of Yonkers. I was the second African-American woman to be elected in the city of Yonkers. And invariably, people would confuse us, and they’d be embarrassed, and I’d be annoyed. She would wear a hat every day, and I was like, I’m not wearing a hat every day. That’s not going to happen. So I started wearing scarves. Now I always have to wear a scarf because I’ve just gone on so long that if I walk into the place and I don’t have one, then that’s the only thing people want to talk about.

On finally disbanding the IDC:
In 2016, after the presidential election, people finally started understanding the importance of state legislatures. And when they looked at New York, they didn’t understand what was happening. They saw that we had this bifurcated Democratic Party, and how difficult it was to get things that people felt should have been done, done — finally, it was like a light bulb went on. After we won the majority back in 2018, and I stood in front of one of the largest majorities in that chamber in history, with more women than had ever been in the conference, all of the fighting and the energy that had gone into that moment — it felt right. It felt like this was what we’ve been fighting for.

On often being the only black woman in the room:

On what she does to relax:
I love to hang out with my kids and my grandkids. I like reading. I don’t get a chance to do as much as I like because of my life. I like to unwind with puzzles. I don’t watch much TV — I get stuck on the political channels, MSNBC and CNN and all that. I cook less because I’m pretty much an empty nester. I lost my husband in 2007, and my kids are all married and they have their own families. But I’m still the place where we gather for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, all that.

On what she’d do with a night off:

I’d go to a Broadway show.

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"Daily Voice" featured Pace University's double alumna Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester in "Stewart-Cousins' Elevation As NY's First Female Majority Leader Lauded By Cuomo, Pace President"

11/27/2018

"Daily Voice" featured Pace University's double alumna Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester in "Stewart-Cousins' Elevation As NY's First Female Majority Leader Lauded By Cuomo, Pace President"

There no longer will be "three men in a room" negotiating key state legislation, with the first woman in the state's history being tapped as a leader in the New York General Assembly.

"Congratulations to Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on her much-deserved election to be leader of the Senate majority and the first African-American woman to lead a majority conference in the Legislature," Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Westchester Democrat, said in a statement on Monday, Nov. 26.

Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers also drew praise from Pace University's president, where she received her bachelor's and master's degrees.

Cuomo added: "Since the beginning of her career in public service, Leader Stewart-Cousins has always been a trailblazer. From being the first African-American woman to serve as Director of Community Affairs in the City of Yonkers, to authoring and passing landmark legislation in the Westchester County Legislature to strengthen gun laws and protect human rights, to taking on local property taxes and fighting for our communities in the State Senate, she is a proven leader and a skilled legislator."

"Today more than ever, we need people like Leader Stewart-Cousins to forge the path ahead for this great state. I look forward to working with her to stand up to the extreme conservative agenda and to fight together for our bold progressive priorities," Cuomo said.

Stewart-Cousins received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Administration degrees at Pace University.

Pace President Marvin Krislov said: “Congratulations to State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who was elected today as majority leader of the New York State Senate."

"She’s a double alumna of Pace University, and now she’s the first woman to a lead a chamber in our state legislature," Krislov said. "Pace students and alumni are hard-working, driven leaders, and we’re so proud of Sen. Stewart-Cousins for all her hard work, drive, and great accomplishments.”

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Statement from President Marvin Krislov on the Election of Pace Alumna State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins

11/26/2018

Statement from President Marvin Krislov on the Election of Pace Alumna State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins as Majority Leader

New York (November 26, 2018) – Today, State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins was elected by her peers to serve as New York State Senate Majority Leader. The first woman to lead either legislative chamber. President Marvin Krislov released the following statement:

“Congratulations to State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who was elected today as majority leader of the New York State Senate. She’s a double alumna of Pace University, and now she’s the first woman to a lead a chamber in our state legislature. Pace students and alumni are hard-working, driven leaders, and we’re so proud of Sen. Stewart-Cousins for all her hard work, drive, and great accomplishments.”

Incoming Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Administration degrees at Pace University.

About Pace University: Since 1906, Pace has educated thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in Lower Manhattan and Westchester County, NY, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. A 2017 study by the Equality of Opportunity Project ranks Pace University first in the nation among four-year private institutions for upward economic mobility. www.pace.edu