2018 Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award Winner Carolyn Maloney
The Junior League of The City of New York
It’s a fitting coincidence that this year’s Mary Harriman Award recipient made her name as a community leader in Mary’s own backyard. Just as Mary started a community of women dedicated to changing New York City and ended up sparking a much larger movement, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has used her experiences in both politics and the Junior League as a launching pad for policies that have helped support so many women leaders of tomorrow.
Carolyn moved to New York shortly after college and was looking for a way to embrace her new city and lend her energy and spirit to help those in need. She began by working as a tutor preparing welfare recipients to take their GED exams. Here, Carolyn saw firsthand what a strong educational program can do to help bolster people’s self-confidence and arm them with the tools to succeed. When the program lost its funding, Carolyn approached local legislators, convincing them to bring it back.
The experience had a powerful impact on the way Carolyn would approach her community work in the future, realizing that there was an opportunity to effect policy long before it was adopted. It was this realization—that she needed a seat at the table—that compelled her to run for the NYC Board of Education and the NY State Assembly.
Just as Mary Harriman had worked tirelessly to address the pressing issues of her time, Carolyn has dedicated her career in public service to identifying the challenges women face in becoming powerful forces within their communities and nationwide.
After serving 10 years on the New York City Council, Carolyn was elected to Congress where she has spent nearly 25 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Carolyn has established a record as a tenacious advocate for women’s equality, women’s health, child welfare and much more.
As a Congresswoman, Carolyn has been a vocal champion for ending human trafficking, improving senior citizen care, elevating the lives and opportunities of working families, and nurturing childhood education. Carolyn has passed more than 70 measures in Congress, with ten of her bills being signed into law at official signing ceremonies.
But her work goes even further than that, far beyond New York, striving to improve the quality of life of all women, both domestically and internationally. A passionate supporter of the United Nations Population Fund, Carolyn has spearheaded several initiatives providing crucial maternal health programs to women all around the globe.
Back at home, Carolyn has been a tireless champion for women’s equality, reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment for the eleventh time to ensure that equal rights for women are reflected in our nation’s Constitution. As a direct result of Carolyn’s work, 100 lawmakers have signed onto the amendment, along with a groundswell of support from key women’s groups across the country.
And yet through all of this success, Carolyn, like many women out there, has come face-to-face with countless systemic barriers attempting to nullify her voice and impede her progress.
While working long, grueling hours to bridge party lines to pass legislation designed to help women across the country, Carolyn constantly faced judgment from her male counterparts who questioned her decision to work while raising a family, which only reminded her of why she was doing this work in the first place—pushing her to work that much harder towards a women-honored future. All the while, she committed herself to being a loving and devoted mother, not to mention hero, to two amazing daughters, Christina and Virginia.
The same passion for women’s equality that Carolyn has demonstrated on Capitol Hill is reflected in all that she does for the Junior League of the City of New York. She has served as a powerful force on the Public Affairs committee, helping to tell the story of progress and change that the League is bringing to all corners of the city—using philanthropy, volunteerism, and community programs as tools to combat some of New York’s most pressing human issues.
Carolyn has proven over and over again her fearlessness in taking risks to stand up for her values and the policies she believes will make life better for everyday Americans. Just as Mary Harriman sparked a movement of women leaders that spread across the nation, Carolyn has carried on that mission, helping new generations of women open up the doors of opportunity and leadership and progress. For that we say thank you, and honor her commitment with the 2018 Mary Harriman Award.