Name: Nydia Velazquez
Organization: United States House of Representatives
What Makes This Person a Game Changer: Nydia Margarita Velázquez is the U.S. Representative for New York’s 12th congressional district, serving since 1993. She is the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress, and the former chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Also, in February 1998, she was named Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Hispanic woman to serve as Ranking Member of a full House committee, and in 2006, she was named Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Latina to chair a full Congressional committee. Throughout her career, Velázquez has been an advocate of many Latino rights programs and associations. During her time as the Director of the Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs in the United States, Velázquez initiated one of the most successful Latino empowerment programs in the nation’s history – “Atrevete” (Dare to Go for It!). She taught Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College and became the first Latino woman to serve on the New York City Council. Congresswoman Velázquez was named as the inaugural “Woman of the Year” by Hispanic Business Magazine in recognition of her national influence in both the political and business sectors and for her longtime support of minority enterprise.