• Press Release

New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz Nominated by EMILYs List for 2021 Gabrielle Giffords Ris

April 19, 2021

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2021

New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz Nominated by EMILYs List for 2021 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, announced that New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz is a nominee for the eighth annual Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award.

“Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz has dedicated her career to providing a voice to those who are too often silenced,” said Emily Cain, executive director of EMILYs List. “The first DREAMer to be elected to the New York State Assembly, Catalina has helped pass key legislation to improve workers’ rights, expand sexual harassment protections for employees, and strengthen tenant, reproductive, and immigrant rights.

“As Black and Brown communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Catalina has fought to ensure that resources are extended to all who need them. Catalina was on the forefront of advocating for marginalized communities to have access to vaccinations, established a program to support struggling farmers, and co-hosted a virtual job fair to help the residents of Queens get back on their feet. Having moved to Queens from Colombia as a child with her single mother who worked around the clock to provide for her four children, Catalina inherited her mother’s strength and has used it to fight for the communities she now represents. EMILYs List is proud to nominate Catalina for the Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award.”

Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz spent her early career as a housing attorney protecting seniors and other low-income tenants from being forced out of their homes. As a champion for worker’s rights, she served as the director of the governor’s Exploited Workers Task Force and as the chief of staff to the New York City Council Finance Chair. Catalina also served as president of the Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County, where she facilitated a Street Law in Spanish program that mentored law students  and facilitated “know your rights” presentations in underserved communities. In these roles, she became a leading advocate for the most marginalized low-wage workers, women, and small businesses.

Named in honor of the dedicated and courageous Gabrielle Giffords, the Rising Star Award celebrates an extraordinary woman serving in state or local office. The award honors a woman who demonstrates the sort of commitment to community, dedication to women and families, and determination and civility that have been the highlights of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ career, in and out of office. Previous Rising Star Award recipients include former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in 2014, former Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley in 2015, former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran in 2016, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym in 2017, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in 2018, California Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo in 2019, and Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes in 2020. 

The Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award winner will be chosen with community input.

Catalina Cruz is nominated alongside:

  • Lina Hidalgo, Harris County, Texas Judge 
  • Debra Lekanoff, Washington State Representative 
  • Park Cannon, Georgia State Representative 
  • Jennifer O’Mara, Pennsylvania State Representative 
  • Tram Nguyen, Massachusetts State Representative  

EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, has raised over $700 million to elect Democratic pro-choice women candidates. With a grassroots community of over five million members, EMILY's List helps Democratic women win competitive campaigns – across the country and up and down the ballot – by recruiting and training candidates, supporting and helping build strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, running nearly $50 million in independent expenditures in the last cycle alone, and turning out women voters and voters of color to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect the country's first woman as vice president, 157 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 16 governors, and more than 1,300 women to state and local office. More than 40 percent of the candidates EMILYs List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. After the 2016 election, more than 60,000 women reached out to EMILY's List about running for office laying the groundwork for the next decade of candidates for local, state, and national offices. In our effort to elect more women in offices across the country, we have created our Run to Win program, expanded our training program, including a Training Center online, and trained thousands of women.