Vote for the 2021 EMILY's List Rising Star
Named in honor of the dedicated and courageous Gabrielle Giffords, the Rising Star Award celebrates an extraordinary woman serving in state or local office.
A Georgia native, Park was the youngest and one of only three LGBTQ+ members in the Georgia State House when she took office in 2016 at 24 years old. Through her work with social justice organizations and women’s health clinics, Park has dedicated herself to fighting for reproductive rights, accessible health care, and affordable housing. As a Black queer woman who has been personally impacted by homelessness and domestic violence, Park uses her position to empower communities across Georgia.
Born in Colombia and raised in Queens, NY, Catalina Cruz came to the United States as an undocumented American and is the first DREAMer to be elected to the New York State Assembly. Throughout her career, Catalina has dedicated herself to giving back to her community. She most recently served as chief of staff to the New York City Council Finance Chair, and has served as the president of the Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County.
Lina Hidalgo serves as Harris County Judge, the chief executive of the largest county in Texas. She is the first woman and Latina to hold the position and only the second woman to be elected to Harris County’s Commissioners Court. Before running for office, Lina dedicated hundreds of hours to our county’s most vulnerable communities—from her time at the Texas Civil Rights Project to serving as a medical interpreter and supporting immigrants in search of lost loved ones.
A member of the Tlingit and Aleut Tribes, Debra Lekanoff is the only Native American serving in the Washington State Legislature. In her first term serving Washington’s 40th Legislative District, she introduced over 200 pieces of legislation and has sought to bring people together to deliver for constituents. As a mother, Debra always keeps future generations in mind and is especially focused on issues like climate change, education, public safety, and affordable housing.
A political refugee from Vietnam, Tram Nguyen immigrated to the United States at five years old and made a home in Massachusetts. She received a bachelor of arts in sociology and American studies from Tufts University and a juris doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law before beginning her legal career as a legal services attorney fighting for vulnerable communities. Tram is the first Vietnamese American woman to serve in the Massachusetts legislature where she represents the 18th Essex District.
Jennifer O’Mara proudly represents Pennsylvania’s 165th House District. At 13 years old, Jennifer’s life was changed when her father, a union firefighter, died by gun suicide. Her dedication to gun reform, mental health care, labor unions, and support for working families is deeply rooted in her own family’s experience. Jennifer is a certified teacher and former higher education administrator. She graduated from West Chester University with a dual degree in history and secondary education.