|New York Council Member, Julissa Ferreras|
Although her district is facing a record-breaking influx of immigrants, endemic social disparity, and suffering from the effects of the recession, which typically affect lower socioeconomic communities to a greater degree, Ferreras is wholeheartedly committed to her district. She describes her priorities in the following, “Right now I am focused on reversing the years of neglect my district suffered. I have been advocating for improvements in quality of life issues, bringing new investments to the community that would lead to more jobs and affordable housing.”
Born to immigrant Dominican parents, Ferreras moved to Corona, Queens as an infant and to this day, still lives in the very district she was raised in and politically represents. Known as a charismatic and dedicated leader, Ferreras was committed to politics from very early on. At the young age of 14, she began her political career as leader of the Corona Youth Council, a local community organization.
Passionately committed to women’s’ issues, specifically immigrant women, Ferreras gravitated towards politics to impact policy. “I am a proud Dominican Latina. While it’s clear we still live in a white, male-dominated world, women are making some amazing strides in leadership positions and we are making our mark in public service. We need more strong women to hear the call to public service and that is one of the many things I emphasize when I speak to young girls.”
Ferreras serves on many committees including the Women’s Issues Committee and Board of Directors of NALEO (The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials). Ferreras’ desire to serve on multiple committees is to inform and educate the local community, while raising necessary financial support for these programs. She believes that in order to impact change, open dialogue is a priority, “As chair of the Women’s Issues Committee I have started the conversation about issues that affect women on a daily basis. I have held hearings on important issues such as street harassment, Latina teen suicide, domestic violence, women in non-traditional jobs, women’s reproductive rights, and sex trafficking.”
True to her roots, Ferreras tries to visit the Dominican Republic as often as possible, “every visit I make back I learn something new about our rich history and culture. My next quest is learning how to make Pastels en Hoja!”
Photography by Pat Barrientos & William Alatriste