State and national political leader and advocate for vulnerable and underserved populations in California
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1946 and with her military family, moved from Texas to San Fernando, California, in 1960. She graduated from Mills College as a young single mother of two while receiving public assistance. She later received her Master’s of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975.
Congresswoman Lee began her political career as an intern in the office of former Congressman and former Oakland Mayor, Ron Dellums, where she eventually became his Chief of Staff. She then served as a member of the California State Assembly and the California State Senate. Lee was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1998 to represent the California 13th Congressional District (formerly 9th Congressional District), a position she holds today.
The Congresswoman has been a strong proponent of safe communities, affordable housing, homeless people, low income energy assistance, job training, making health care affordable and universal, establishment of a living wage, and protection of the right of women to make decisions about their reproductive health. She has advocated for greater legal protections for all victims of domestic violence, including LGBT and tribal women. She has fought for quality public education for our children, and supported comprehensive immigration reform. She authored or co-authored every major piece of legislation dealing with global HIV/AIDS issues since she was elected to Congress.
To raise awareness about poverty, Congresswoman Lee took the “Food Stamp Challenge” in 2007. She spent only $4.50 per day for a week, which was the average food budget for food stamp recipients and consistently challenges other members of Congress to participate in the program so they too “can walk in the shoes” of the nation’s poor.
She currently serves on the Appropriations Committee, subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies; subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs; House Committee on the Budget. She has been involved with the Congressional Caucus on HIV/AIDS, Out of Poverty Caucus, Progressive Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus, among others.
In addition to her many accomplishments promoting social change, she has been noted as the only member of either house or congress to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force following the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States. She was a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and a tireless supporter of peace, advocating for the creation of a Department of Peace. In 2005, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize along with women from 150 countries as part of the international project – 1000 Women for Peace.
Recently, President Obama announced his nomination of Congresswoman Barbara Lee to be a Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Congresswoman Lee will continue to represent the 13th Congressional District of California while she assumes the duties of a Representative to the United Nations.
A lawmaker and a social worker by profession, Barbara Lee has been unafraid to take a stand on tough issues and speak her mind for her constituents, for a more just America and for a safer world.