Our advisory committee is a diverse roster of elected officials and former candidates across the country. This committee provides endorsed candidates with support, mentorship and a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to run as a mama.
Senator Shelley Mayer was born and raised in Westchester County by parents who instilled in her the importance of public service and its potential to create meaningful change in people’s lives and communities. She earned her BA at UCLA, and later earned her JD at the SUNY Buffalo Law School.
Shelley began her career in private practice before transitioning to public service, first as an Assistant Attorney General, then as Chief Counsel to the New York State Senate Democrats. In 2012 she was elected to serve as the New York State Assembly member for the 90th Assembly District, and in April of 2018, she won a Special Election to serve as the New York State Senator for the 37th District. Shelley’s campaign was powered by women at every level, and women played a key role in her victory.
Shelley understands that the lack of representation of mothers with young children in our political process directly correlates to the lack of political action around issues facing them. She has been one of the leading voices for child care, afterschool, paid family leave and other critical policy issues for working women. This year, she was proud to sponsor a bill in the NY State Senate which authorizes the use of campaign funds for childcare expenses. The bill was signed by Governor Cuomo and goes into effect in late 2019. This should help relieve some of the burden of running for office, and encourage more moms with young children to run for office.
Shelley has been married to her husband Lee Smith for 39 years, and together they raised 3 wonderful children and have 3 young grandchildren. She worked outside the home for the years when her children were young, and understands first hand the struggles working mothers face every day in the workforce. When Shelley first considered running for political office, she was advised by several well-meaning mentors not to do so while her children were young, because it “would just be too difficult”. There was truth to that statement and even years later, it is still very difficult for parents (and particularly mothers) of young children to run for office. That’s why Vote Mama is such an important organization, and Senator Mayer is extremely glad to be a part of it.