An award-winning teacher fighting for Connecticut working families
Rep. Jahana Hayes is a teacher and community leader who ran for reelection to Congress to fight for Connecticut families. A lifelong Connecticut resident, she grew up in a Waterbury public housing project. Rep. Hayes’ family struggled with poverty and addiction. After she became a teen mom, she went back to school to become a teacher, overcoming barriers to break the cycle of poverty with the support of her community. She enrolled in her local community college and went on to earn her bachelor’s, master’s, and advanced degrees all while working to support her family. Rep. Hayes has dedicated her career to public education, and worked as a high school social studies teacher in New Haven and Waterbury. A champion for students and their families, she earned the 2016 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Award and went on to earn the 2016 National Teacher of the Year Award. Rep. Hayes has also served as a talent and professional development supervisor for Waterbury Public Schools. When Rep. Hayes began her 2018 campaign for Congress, there were no people of color in New England’s congressional delegation, and her victory changed that. Connecticut had never elected a Black woman to Congress, and Rep. Hayes became the first with her historic win. She lives in Wolcott with her husband, a police officer, and is a proud mother of four children.
A proven leader dedicated to expanding economic opportunity
Rep. Hayes ran for reelection to expand economic opportunity and to help create good-paying jobs for her constituents. She worked tirelessly to help pass the American Rescue Plan Act and played a pivotal role in drafting this historic legislation as a member of the Education and Labor and Agriculture Committees. During her first markup as chairwoman of the Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Subcommittee, Rep. Hayes defended the vital legislation from attacks aimed at diminishing access to nutrition assistance. Rep. Hayes is a fierce advocate for expanding access to quality health care and for policies that address the inequities that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and increased. She and her staff faced challenges in accessing COVID-19 testing before she tested positive for the illness in September of 2020, and intensified her calls for a national testing strategy as she quarantined with her family. “I believe that we have an obligation to each other to do better for not only our own families but all families,” she has said. Rep. Hayes leads with courage. When she was subjected to a barrage of racist hate speech during a virtual town hall last year, she spoke out about her experience and the all-too-common pain it caused her. “While understanding my pain may be a journey for some, a refusal to acknowledge it is a non-starter for anyone who seeks to heal our nation,” she has said, and she continues to bravely carry on her public service and move America forward.
Victory in a must-win reelection fight
Rep. Hayes ran a successful grassroots campaign for an open seat in 2018 and worked hard to win reelection in 2020 — and again in 2022. The EMILY’s List community is proud to continue standing with this inspiring leader, and to have helped keep this champion for Connecticut working families in the House.