Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Democrat, Independence and Working Families) is a New York State Senator and the first woman in New York State history to lead a conference in Albany. The Yonkers resident represents the 35th State Senate district in New York which in its present configuration includes Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Greenburgh, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, Tarrytown, Scarsdale and parts of Yonkers, White Plains, and New Rochelle. Prior to being elected to the New York State Senate, she was a Westchester County Legislator. She was elected to the New York State Senate in 2006. In 2012, her colleagues chose her to be the first female legislative leader; she currently serves as Democratic Conference Leader.
Stewart-Cousins was born and raised in New York in 1951. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Pace University and her teaching credentials in Business Education from Lehman College. She is a graduate of Pace University (May 2008) with a Masters of Public Administration and is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, the public administration honor society. She spent twenty years in the private sector, including thirteen years in sales and marketing with New York Telephone/AT&T. She also pursued a career in journalism and teaching before entering public service. Her public service career began in 1992 when she became the first African-American to serve as the Director of Community Affairs in the City of Yonkers.
Prior to her election to the New York State Senate in 2006, Andrea Stewart-Cousins served for a decade as a Westchester County Legislator representing Yonkers. During her tenure (from 1996 to 2006), she was elected Majority Whip and Vice-Chair, and she authored and passed landmark legislation, including Westchester County's first human rights laws, living wage laws, smoke-free workplace laws, tougher gun laws, laws that prosecute "predatory lenders", and laws that have provided tax cuts for seniors and veterans. As Chair of the Health Committee, Legislator Stewart-Cousins brought the "Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program" to Westchester County.
Her career in public service began in 1992, when she was appointed as Director of Community Affairs for the City of Yonkers, the first African-American woman in that position. Stewart-Cousins created an internship program for the hearing-impaired and for children in working families. She advocated for and contributed to the revitalization of the City of Yonkers and was a founder of the original "Art on Main Street," as well as a co-creator of "River Fest", which for more than 20 years has been a widely attended multi-cultural citywide celebration on the Hudson River in Yonkers.
Stewart-Cousins successfully fought to save the Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry from closure, and worked with her colleagues in the state legislature to provide additional funds for Yonkers city services and schools, while ensuring that state foundation aid to Westchester schools saw the highest increases in the last decade. In December 2012 she became the first female legislative leader in New York State history.
Stewart-Cousins voted in favor of same-sex marriage legislation on December 2, 2009, but the bill was defeated. The same-sex marriage law passed in 2011. She is a lifelong advocate for education, human rights, equality and equal opportunities.
On April 17, 2010, it was reported that Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) was under consideration by Andrew Cuomo to be his choice for lieutenant governor, but he chose another running mate.
In December 2012, Senate Democrats elected Stewart-Cousins as their new leader, defeating John L. Sampson.
Senator Stewart-Cousins resides in Yonkers, was married to the late Thomas Cousins and has three children and two grandchildren.