Ayanna Pressley

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Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley is a Boston City Councilor, who won the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District primary on September 4 2018. Ayanna Pressley's mother Sandra Pressley worked as "an advocate for tenants’ rights with the Urban League" in Chicago.[1]

Ayanna Pressley has been endorsed by Boston Democratic Socialists of America, the Boston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.


"Raised in Chicago as the only child of an activist mother who instilled in her the value of civic participation, Ayanna understands the role that government should play in helping to lift up communities that are in need of the most help.
"In her eight-year tenure on the Council, she has:
  • Revised and mandated enforcement of a pregnant and parenting teen policy for Boston Public Schools to strengthen pathways to graduation and to reduce the dropout rate.
  • Developed a comprehensive sexual education and health curriculum that is culturally competent, medically accurate, and age appropriate, which was successfully adopted as a permanent part of the Boston Public Schools’ wellness policy.
  • Convened the first listening-only hearing in the Boston City Council’s history, where 300 families impacted by homicide testified, which strengthened her resolve to continue her advocacy for trauma supports.
  • Partnered with Dr. Monique Morris, Founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, to convene focus groups in evidence based research to reform school disciplinary policies that contribute to the school to prison pipeline for black and latina girls.
  • Successfully pushed for the creation of 75 new liquor licenses, 80 percent dedicated to disenfranchised neighborhoods, resulting in the creation of dozens of new restaurants and hundreds of jobs.

Ayanna’s legislative achievements resulted in her being the top vote-getter in three consecutive elections, making her the first woman in 30 years to achieve this distinction and the first person of color to top the ticket.

Prior to being elected to the Boston City Council, Ayanna worked as a Senior Aide for Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and later Senator John Kerry.

In 2016, Ayanna Pressley was named one of The New York Times 14 Young Democrats to Watch. In 2015, she earned the EMILY’s List Rising Star Award and was named one of Boston Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful People. In 2014, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce named her as one of their Ten Outstanding Young Leaders, and the Victim Rights Law Center presented her with their Leadership Award. She is also an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership, Class of 2012.

Ayanna Pressley lives in the Ashmont/Adams neighborhood of Dorchester with her husband Conan Harris, and cat Sojourner Truth.[2]

Her own words

"Fourteen years ago, I received the unique opportunity to work for Joseph P. Kennedy II as a constituent services representative. Through my work in his office, I was able to help families like mine gain access to opportunities and services. It was a start to my career in public service that I'll forever be grateful for and has opened so many doors that I never dreamed would be available to me.
"Since then, I've worked on behalf of families throughout Massachusetts as Senator John Kerry's Political Director, served in leadership positions with groups such as the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, the Young Professionals Preventing Child Abuse, and the Children's Trust Fund. In addition, I mentor with the Young Black Women's Society and the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, and am a member of the NAACP. I also serve on the Boards of several Boston and statewide organizations, including the UMass Boston Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus and Emerge Massachusetts."[3]

Committee to Elect Ayanna Pressley

Committee to Elect Ayanna Pressley Facebook Advertisement (screenshot)

Committee to Elect Ayanna Pressley supports the campaign of Ayanna Pressley, who won the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District primary on September 4 2018. According to the Federal Election Commission and LinkedIn, the following are executives of the Committee to Elect Ayanna Pressley:[4]

Campaign manager

Sarah Groh, Ms. Pressley's 29-year-old campaign manager. Became her incoming Chief of Staff.

Minority voters

Fresh off one of the biggest upsets of the primary season, campaign consultants for Boston’s Ayanna Pressley had a message Friday for other candidates: Don’t overlook minority voters.

Pressley, a former Boston city councilor, defied the predictions to defeat longtime incumbent Michael Capuano in Massachusetts’ 7th District partly because she ignored early polls saying white voters would dominate turnout at the polls, said Josiane Martinez, a Pressley campaign consultant and the founder and CEO of Archipelago Strategies Group.

Instead, Pressley’s campaign heavily targeted young people and people of color. Her only television advertisements were in Spanish on Telemundo and Univision, Spanish-only networks that cater to Latino audiences. She also ran digital ads in multiple languages and conducted get-out-the-vote campaigns targeting the district’s Spanish, Haitian, Chinese and African American communities and media outlets, Martinez said.

“Pollsters were saying that although the seventh district is minority-majority, most of the voters are white, but that remains to be seen,” Martinez said. “I really hope campaigns and pollsters change the way they think about campaigns. Communities end up being disenfranchised.”[5]

DSA endorsement

On September 10, 2009 the Boston Democratic Socialists of America Executive Board discussed whether to make endorsement recommendations to this meeting...for Boston City Council at-large the Exec Board proposes DSA endorse first time candidates Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley, along with incumbent Councilor John Connolly. [6]

Ayanna Pressley, seeking to become the first African-American woman elected to the Council, is backed by IBEW 2222 and 2325, SEIU 1199, Carpenter’s locals 67 and 40, and Boston NOW.

Right to the City

Right to the City VOTE, a new civic action project focused on building power for working class neighborhoods and communities of color, announced today that it has endorsed Martin Walsh in the 2013 Boston mayoral race.

Right to the City Vote leaders cited Marty Walsh’s commitment to stabilizing working class neighborhoods, diversifying city leadership, increasing access to jobs, and closing opportunity and achievement gaps for Boston youth. More importantly, the group pointed to his State House record of championing equality for all, workplace and unemployed rights, supporting immigrants, and leading the fight for gun control and programs that address substance abuse.

Right to the City VOTE also endorsed At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who is running for re-election, and District 2 City Council candidate Suzanne Lee. Both candidates fully support the Right to the City platform to Remain, Reclaim, and Rebuild Boston and are proven leaders who have stood on the frontlines with communities of color to fight for voting rights, library services, access to good jobs, and stabilization of working class neighborhoods.[7]


Resilient Boston is the result of input from more than 11,000 Bostonians. It reflects a collaborative and inclusive approach to developing solutions to address racial equity and resilience challenges. It seeks to break down typical City silos, use data to inform decision-making, and ensure that programs and policies are developed using a racial equity lens.

Steering Committee (Phase I: Establishing the Foundation)

Jim Brooks Act

Over 150 people took to the streets of Roxbury on Saturday, March 17 to stand in solidarity with tenants facing eviction in the area, and to urge a state house vote on the Jim Brooks Act which would potentially curb housing displacement in Boston. Despite the rally’s large attendance and political support, the Massachusetts General Court ultimately decided to postpone the Jim Brooks Act vote by six weeks.

Led by housing advocacy group City Life/Vida Urbana, demonstrators and activists started at the Walnut Park Play Area in Roxbury, where they demanded a more ethical housing market and an end to rising rent prices. City Life/Vida Urbana and other housing advocacy groups attest that with the rising rent prices, Boston has also seen an increase in evictions in recent years, with working class and minority families baring the worst of the changes.

“I’m tired of being tired of the same thing,” said Ronel Remy, Housing Justice Organizer for City Life. “We’re cursed for not being rich… [and] we are exposing what is wrong with this system.”

The Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians (BABAM!) — there to lead protesters in song — played tunes such as “Down By the Riverside,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “This Little Light Of Mine” between tenants’ testimonies. given by distraught Xavier was one such tenant, who was relatively new to Roxbury and shocked at the conditions he and his friends found themselves in.

City Councilors Kim Janey and Ayanna Pressley also spoke at the rally, calling for an end to the detrimental housing trends and for the Massachusetts General Court to stop delaying their vote on the Jim Brooks Act.

“It’s a war on families, a war on poor people,” Councilor Janey said, before starting a chant of “Hell no, we won’t go.”

“This is everyone’s problem,” Councilor Pressley said. “[The state house] keeps saying we need more data; you are the data. We don’t need anymore data.”

While housing justice activists continue to demand a more equitable system, the fate of the Jim Brooks Act seems hard to predict for some. “It’s all a matter of logic vs. real estate money,” said Steve Meacham, a community organizer for City Life. “[The Jim Brooks Act] is a very modest proposal… real estate working groups had even said they weren’t against it. But now they’re attacking it full throttle.”[9]

Women's Pipeline for Change

Women's Pipeline for Change is a new initiative "designed to support progressive women of color and improve civic participation and equal representation in the political pipeline" will be launched Thursday. Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley will be the keynote speaker. The initiative is a project backed by The Partnership for Democracy and Education. Attendees will announce a new collaboration with UMass Boston's Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and media will be introduced to five women who will take part in fellowships under the collaboration: Gladys Lebron-Martinez, Holyoke School Committee member; Sheneal Parker, Boston public schools teacher; Martina Cruz, Lawrence School Committee member; Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong and Elizabeth Cardona, director of Gov. Deval Patrick's western Massachusetts office in Springfield. Auditor Suzanne Bump plans to deliver remarks as well.[10]

Anti-Trump rally


On Wednesday, 6/29/16 hundreds of protesters from SEIU Local 888, sponsor of the protest, 1199SEIU, NAGE, Boston Teachers Union , Congressman Michael Capuano, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, many union activists, fast food worker organizers, the Fight for $15 Coalition, immigration advocates, social workers, environmental groups, anti-war and anti-racist activists gathered at 10am and protested into the afternoon, chanting “Hey, hey, let’s be clear, no racists are welcome here”, and other protest chants, outside Donald Trump’s Presidential fundraiser and luncheon being held at the Langham Hotel in Boston’s financial district.[11]

CPA connections

International Women's Day Celebration


Chinese Progressive Association (Boston) International Women's Day Celebration March 8, 2017 - 5:30pm

SEIU 32BJ Local 615 26 West Street Boston, MA 02111.

Celebrate International Women’s Day and the Chinese Progressive Association Workers Center’s 30 years of organizing.

Honorary Committee

CPA 40th Anniversary Gala dinner


Chinese Progressive Association Friday, May 19, 2017 6:00 – 9:00 pm, at Hei La Moon Restaurant. 88 Beach Street in Boston Chinatown


CPA history

Boston City Councilor at-large Ayanna Pressley has never been afraid of a tough fight.

“I’ve known Ayanna since 2009, when she first ran for Boston City Council,” said Suzanne Lee, a former principal at Chinatown’s Josiah Quincy Elementary School. “She has always been a voice to tackle the issues that people say are too hard, such as education disparities for girls of color or single mothers.”

Pressley had a birthday party on Feb. 13 2018 at La Fabrica Central in Cambridge, with more than 100 attendees. In her kickoff speech, she talked about her bid to unseat Rep. Michael Capuano of the Seventh Congressional District, which covers Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Medford, Everett, Chelsea and Somerville.

“The people of the Seventh Congressional District are not concerned about the political inconvenience of any one man or woman, and neither am I,” Pressley said. “What concerns me is the daily uneasiness, stress and worry of many folks in this room and many more beyond.”

Pressley has faced criticism for challenging an incumbent and being overly ambitious. Lee herself challenged an incumbent, when she ran against Bill Linehan for District 2 Councilor in 2011 and 2013.

“I ran against an incumbent, and it’s not to do the same thing,” Lee said. “I know Capuano and like him. But he’s been in office almost 20 years. Whatever he wants to do, he should have gotten done by now.”

Lee is a founder of the Chinese Progressive Association (Boston), which Pressley has worked with on Chinatown initiatives, along with other civic organizations. Pressley said, “What I love about Chinatown specifically is the intergenerational activism. I especially love that so many women are leading in Chinatown.”[12]

CPA celebrates 40 years of community advocacy

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley spoke before presenting the Chinese Progressive Association’s Community Building Award to the Friends of the Chinatown Library on May 19 2017 at Hei La Moon.

Ayanna Pressley

The Chinese Progressive Association, a grassroots organization that rose up in the late ’70s to become a stalwart advocate for the Chinatown community, celebrated four decades of accomplishments at a food-filled gala attended by hundreds, including Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. The “Many People, One Heart” gala also included an award ceremony honoring community leaders as well as traditional dance performances by local troupes.

“Thank you for your vision; thank you for your vigilance. It is especially heartening, given this current climate of xenophobia, that we are all here this evening,” remarked Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who later presented the CPA’s Community Building Award to the Friends of the Chinatown Library. She said, “We begin [city council meetings] with saying the pledge of allegiance, and we end with the line ‘and justice for all.’ And every time, I amend it and say ‘some day.’ The work of this organization is getting us closer to that ‘some day.’”[13]

Wholefoods collaboration

Chinatown/South End organizations and Whole Foods released hiring results as the new Whole Foods store in the South End opened at the Ink Block development.

The Chinatown/South End Collaborative launched an effort last year to increase local and minority hiring at new retail stores in the neighborhood. Led by the Chinese Progressive Association-Boston, the effort included the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Castle Square Tenants Organization, Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, Massachusetts Worker Education Roundtable and BEST Corp. The group worked with City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and the City’s Office of Economic Development to advocate for local hiring goals, ongoing monitoring and reporting, an early notification/First Source agreement, and a multilingual application and interview process.

In total, 108 new hires were made with 64% living in the City of Boston with 19% living in the Chinatown and South End area. The new hires are also particularly diverse with 75% of them being people of color. Asian Americans are 26% of new hires.

“What made this a bigger success story than in the past was the First Source agreement with clear monitoring and reporting points, combined with support to help people prepare and go through the application and interview process,” says Lydia Lowe, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association-Boston. “And, of course, there has to be commitment from the top. This partnership with Whole Foods is an example of how an employer coming into the neighborhood can partner with community groups to open up job access for people in the community.”

Collaboration will continue beyond the opening of the store. Whole Foods, along with Roche Bros., another supermarket planning to open in February at Downtown Crossing, will partner with community organizations Chinese Progressive Association-Boston and Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center to provide a vocational English class and customer service training to Boston residents. The 14-week class will start at the end of February. People can apply at the Chinese Progressive Association-Boston.

The City of Boston played an important role in having the partnership come together and speaks to the potential city government can play in opening economic opportunities for its residents. The City of Boston, through the Neighborhood Jobs Trust, is funding the training. City Councilor Ayanna Pressley facilitated the meeting that formalized the partnership, and the group also received support from the Office of Economic Development. [14]

Pressley campaign launch

At-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley kicked off her campaign for the 7th Congressional District at a Cambridge restaurant Feb. 13 2018, vowing to push against the political climate in Massachusetts that favors incumbents over insurgents.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 300 at the restaurant La Fábrica Central, Pressley pledged to work on rising health costs, access to capital for small businesses, income inequality, the growing wealth gap, systemic racism and the Greater Boston area’s crisis of housing affordability.

At her kickoff event, Pressley demonstrated considerable support for her congressional bid. She was joined by District 7 City Councilor Kim Janey, At-large Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, state Rep. Evandro Carvalho and Chelsea City Council President Damali Vidot. Other political activists from Boston and Cambridge included gubernatorial candidate Bob Massie, political activist Suzanne Lee, former state Rep. Gloria Fox and longtime Caribbean Carnival Association of Boston President Shirley Shillingford.

Veteran campaign strategist Wilnelia Rivera, who is serving as the Pressley campaign general manager, says her effort will focus on one-on-one contact with voters in the district.

“We’re excited to build a grassroots movement to talk to voters across this district,” she said.

Janey, who says she will volunteer on Pressley’s campaign, said she expects Pressley to have broad support throughout the district.[15]

CAP PAC endorsement

August 8 2018 — Chinese Progressive Political Action (CPPA) today endorsed Ayanna Pressley for Congress. Founded in 2011, CPPA has advocated for inclusive and progressive policies aimed at reducing inequality affecting residents in Chinatown, the South End, and many other neighborhoods across Boston and beyond.

“As City Councilor, Ayanna Pressley has been a champion of issues affecting communities of color, immigrants, working families, women, and those who are marginalized,” said CPPA chair Tom Louie. “She’s a proven leader representing the voices of the less powerful and less connected. Ayanna Pressley is not afraid of challenging the status quo, pushing for a bold progressive agenda for equity, social and economic justice. As immigration policies of fear, displacements, and separations prevail, we need a leader in Washington who assertively fights for long-term solutions. Ayanna Pressley is that leader.”

“I am humbled to have earned the support of CPPA,” said Pressley. “CPPA and their members have been on the frontlines of many of the most important movements and policy decisions since their founding in 2011, and I’m proud to have partnered with them throughout my time on the Boston City Council. Their members and many others across the 7th district are faced with fear of displacement, uncertainty due to the cruel immigration policies of this administration, and many other issues”.

CPPA’s endorsement marks another grassroots political organizations’ support for Ayanna, following this week’s endorsement from Progressive Massachusetts. This endorsement follows announcements from Democracy for America, Indivisible, Higher Heights, and Justice Democrats. These organizations are joined in supporting Ayanna by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, UNITE Here Local 26, SEIU 32BJ, along with numerous elected officials from Boston, Chelsea, and Cambridge. [16]

CPA support congressional campaign


September 5, 2018.

Campaign staff

Wu endorsement

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu to Endorse Ayanna Pressley for Congress, from the Pressley campaign: Former Boston City Council President and current At-Large Councilor Michelle Wu will endorse today Ayanna Pressley in her campaign to represent the 7th District in Congress at Vejigantes Restaurant in Boston. “Throughout her eight years on the Boston City Council, Ayanna has been a tireless advocate for reducing inequality in all forms,“ said Wu. “She brings people together to champion issues that have been overlooked and communities who have been underserved.“[17]

Collective PAC

Launched in August of 2016, the Collective PAC is backing several candidates in 2018, including Ayanna Pressley MA (7) [18]

Local endorsements

Ayanna Pressley, July 13, 2018.


I hope you can join Jan Devereux, City Councillor Alanna Mallon, City Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Denise Simmons, Cambridge City Councillor Quinton Zondervan, and Manikka Bowman at La Fabrica tomorrow at 10:00 AM!

LeftRoots connection


Mike Leyba is a member of LeftRoots, Boston Branch.

We replaced an establishment democrat with a progressive, socialist woman of color. The incumbent labeled himself as progressive, while actively standing in the way of fully-funded public schools and protections for immigrants in Massachusetts. Our campaign declared early that we wouldn't accept contributions from real estate developers or fossil fuel interests. We were outspent 3-to-1 in the most expensive House race in state history, and we won decisively.
Much of my contribution to the campaign was drawn from the lesson I’ve learned from the experiences–both in success and failure–of LefRoots comrades doing similar work.[19]

"Green New Deal"

From the Sunrise Movement:[20]


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has released a proposal for a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, a plan that would transform our economy and society at the scale needed to stop the climate crisis.

We have the momentum to make a Green New Deal real, but we need a critical mass of Congresspeople to support the proposal.

Take action on Dec. 10 to show Congress the Green New Deal is a top priority.

Congressional supporters by December 1 2018:

CPC new members

2018 Congressional Progressive Caucus new members included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Deb Haaland, Veronica Escobar, Jesus Garcia, Joe Neguse, Andy Levin, Mike Levin.[21]