Lehman College Alumna Letitia James Is Elected NYC Public Advocate; First African American Woman to Hold Citywide Office

Lehman College alumna Letitia James (left) on election night with her City Council successor Laurie Cumbo / NY Daily News

Lehman College alumna and New York City Councilwoman Letitia James has been elected Public Advocate for the City of New York, the first African-American woman to hold citywide office. She succeeds Bill De Blasio, who was elected Mayor in the 2013 municipal election.

James, who graduated in 1982 with a degree in psychology, ran without Republican opposition in the general election after defeating Daniel Squadron in a Democratic primary runoff.

A native of Brooklyn, James attended law school at Howard University in Washington, DC. After earning her law degree, she served as Counsel and Chief of Staff to several members of the New York State Assembly and as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society. She was later appointed the first Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Brooklyn Regional Office during the administration of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

In 2003, James was elected to the New York City Council on the Working Families Party’s ballot line – the first member of the party elected to office in New York State. For ten years, she represented Brooklyn’s 35th District, serving as chair of the Economic Development and Sanitation Committees, and on the committees for Parks and Recreation, Small Business, Technology in Government, Veteran Affairs, and Women’s Issues.

A graduate of New York City public schools, James’ campaign focused on the concerns of public school parents and affordable housing issues.

“To some extent, I’ve been advocating all of my career,” James said in an interview with City & State. “I’ve been an advocate on a wide range of issues, speaking on behalf of those who have historically been ignored or those feeling squeezed out of the City of New York.”

James is also founder of the Urban Network, a coalition of minority professional organizations that raises money and distributes college scholarships to inner city youth.

Learn more about Letitia James from her campaign website.