Alessandra Biaggi (STEINHARDT ’08)
A New York State Senator
By Tom Sinclair
Portrait by Joel Griffith
“May you live in interesting times,” runs a purported ancient Chinese curse. For her part, Democratic New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi appreciates that sentiment, taking it as a combination blessing, challenge, and manifesto. “It’s a huge privilege to be serving at this time,” Biaggi says. “In the past six months, this senate has literally done more than the legislature has been able to do in 10 years.”
The freshman senator, who represents the 34th Senate District (parts of Bronx and Westchester Counties), serves as chair of the Committee on Ethics and Internal Governance. She ran hearings on workplace sexual harassment; as a result, “we have a package of legislation that will transform sexual harassment laws in the state of New York,” she proudly says.
She grew up partly in the Bronx in a family where politics and current events were staples on the dinner table menu (her grandfather was US Representative Mario Biaggi). She says her realization that public service was her calling was a gradual process. After graduating from NYU, followed by Fordham Law School, the young attorney wound up working for both Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton.
“I did national operations [for the Clinton campaign in 2016] and I met a lot of people,” Biaggi says. Being immersed in the political milieu gave her the chance to take a close look at the state senate’s operating procedures—and she didn’t like what she saw.
Biaggi laughingly describes her campaign against her predecessor, Democrat Jeff Klein, as “a street fight.” She trounced him in the September 2018 Democratic primary, winning with more than 70 percent of the vote, and emerged victorious in the general election that November. Sworn into office on January 6, she plunged into her new job with righteous passion, resolving to aggressively pursue ethics reform, tenants’ rights, and women’s issues in Albany.
She finds the work electrifying and humbling. “The journey to get here was so hard, my fight to get into the room was so incredibly challenging,” Biaggi says. “But to be able to be part of this history-making legislative body is stunning.” Looks like her times should be interesting.
Sworn into office on January 6, she plunged into her new job with righteous passion, resolving to aggressively pursue ethics reform, tenants’ rights, and women’s issues in Albany.