Ayanna Pressley was elected to the Boston City Council on November 3, 2009. Pressley, the only woman in a field of 15 candidates, earned one of four At-Large spots on the city’s 13-member council with nearly 42,000 votes. After being sworn in on January 4, 2010 she became the first woman of color to serve in the 100-year history of the Boston City Council.
In keeping with the historic nature of her win, Councilor Pressley formed and is chairing a new standing committee, the Committee on Women & Healthy Communities. The committee is devoted to the causes that she has always been most devoted to: stabilizing families and communities, reducing and preventing violence and trauma, and combating poverty. The committee is primarily concerned with adequate delivery of city services and programming for youth, families, seniors and new Bostonians, with particular focus on girls and women. Some of the issues the committee plans to address over the next two years include domestic and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect, bullying, substance abuse, mentoring, hunger and homelessness.
Councilor Pressley also serves as the Chair of the Arts, Film, Humanities & Tourism Committee as well as the Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee. She also sits on the following committees: City, Neighborhood Services & Veterans Affairs; Economic Development & Planning; Education; Government Operations; Ways and Means, and; the Special Committee on Census & Redistricting.
Although recently elected, Councilor Pressley is no stranger to public service. Her political career spans more than 16 years, in various behind-the-scene capacities at the federal level of government. Councilor Pressley previously worked as a Senior Aide for Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and United States Senator John Kerry. Immediately prior to her run for office, Pressley was serving as Senator Kerry’s Political Director, responsible for managing his relationships with elected officials at the city, state and federal level and various community leaders.
In addition to her work in government, Councilor Pressley has also been an active leader in the non-profit community on issues related to women and girls, civic engagement and diversifying the political pipeline. She has served in leadership positions with groups such as the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, the Young Professionals Preventing Child Abuse of the Children's Trust Fund. She also serves on the Boards of several Boston and statewide organizations, including the UMass Boston Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, Emerge Massachusetts, Action for Boston Community Development, Inc., and the Young Black Women's Society. In addition, she is an active “Big Sister” with the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.
Her work with young people on violence prevention has earned her national acclaim and she has been recognized by Ebony Magazine, The Root, the Boston Globe, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Big Sisters of Greater Boston and others as an emerging leader with vision and values.
Councilor Pressley is passionate about youth mentorship and civic engagement and has launched ABC- Ayanna’s BIG Challenge- a yearlong initiative to recruit mentors for children living in the Boston neighborhoods with the longest waiting lists for adult mentors.
She is a resident and homeowner in the Ashmont-Adams area of Dorchester, Boston’s largest neighborhood.