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Mondaire Jones, One of 1st Black Gay Congressmen, Is Freshman Leader

Mondaire Jones

Mondaire Jones, one of the first Black gay men elected to Congress, has been named freshman representative to House leadership in a unanimous vote by the freshman class.

Jones, a Democrat, this month won the U.S. House of Representatives seat from New York’s 17th Congressional District, located in the suburbs of New York City. He and fellow Democrat Ritchie Torres, an Afro-Latinx man elected in the neighboring 15th Congressional District in the Bronx, will be the first out members of the Black LGBTQ+ community to serve in Congress. They will be sworn in January 3.

Jones was elected to the leadership position by his colleagues Thursday. It’s the “most influential role available to a freshman member of Congress,” according to a press release from his team. He will meet weekly with House majority leadership and serve as a spokesman for the 15-person freshman class. He will also be a member of the powerful House Steering and Policy Committee, which makes recommendations to the speaker of the House regarding committee memberships and leadership and assists the Democratic caucus in policy development and implementation.

“Congressman-elect Mondaire Jones is a force for progress in New York and across America, whose brilliant legal mind, grassroots organizing experience, and spirit of advocacy and action have already enriched our House Democratic majority,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in the press release. “His leadership has been acknowledged by his election as freshman representative to leadership, where he will amplify, strengthen and unify the voices of our diverse, dynamic Democratic caucus.”

 “I’m proud to be part of the boldest, most diverse Congress in American history, and we’re ready to get to work on behalf of the American people,” Jones said. “We know that if we want to see the meaningful change our communities deserve, we need strong, thoughtful leadership at the table where policies are made. I’m grateful to the freshman class of the 117th Congress for providing me the opportunity to advocate for our shared values.”

Jones, who grew up impoverished in the district he will represent, is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. He worked in the U.S. Department of Justice during President Barack Obama’s administration. He is a cofounder of the nonprofit Rising Leaders and has previously served on the NAACP’s National Board of Directors and on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Most recently, he worked as a litigator in the Westchester County Law Department.

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