Lovely Warren, 41, the 67th mayor of Rochester, NY, is the city’s first woman—and only the second Black person—to hold her position.

A native of Rochester, Warren is a graduate of Wilson Magnet High School. She later earned her Bachelor Degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School of Union University. Before being elected mayor, Warren also served on the Rochester City Council, representing the city’s Northeast District; and, in 2010, she became the youngest council president in Rochester’s history.

Warren has made improving public education for the students of Rochester a primary focus of her two-term tenure—along with job creation and community safety—and has been very public about her intention to become more involved in the operation of the Rochester School District. She was instrumental in the creation of a “3-to-3 Initiative,” with the goal of helping 3-year-old Pre-K students develop the necessary academic and social skills that they need to be successful in school, and in life, before they enter the third grade.

During her 2014 inauguration speech, Warren reiterated her commitment to ensuring that Rochester students are successful and safe as they strive for greatness.

“Working to fix our schools and offering parents more good choices is a priority,” Warren said. “And, I will fight very hard to do that because you deserve it and so do all of our children! I know this isn’t going to be easy, but, I am going to fight for changes and outcomes with the fierceness of a mother defending her child. Because that is what I am doing – defending you and all our children.”

During her tenure as mayor, Warren has emphasized the need for the Rochester Police Department to have smaller beats that will aid in developing healthier relationships between police officers and the communities they occupy. She has also proposed a police accountability board (PAB) that would “would have unprecedented authority – including subpoena power to compel testimony and the production of evidence – to investigate complaints as well as work toward better policies related to the use of force.”

As have several of the Black women mayors ESSENCE has profiled in partnership with PolicyLink, Warren has been vocal in her disapproval of President Donald Trump, especially as it pertains to climate change, calling Trump “reckless” for pulling out of the Paris Climates Accords.

Warren has also proved to be an ally for the transgender community, adding transgender-health benefits to city employees’ insurance packages for themselves and their families.

“Eliminating barriers to health care is simply the right thing to do,” Warren said in a statement. “The city was the first to support domestic partnerships, and I am happy that we lead the effort to equalize benefits for all once again.”

In 2018, Warren was selected for ESSENCE magazine’s Woke 100, a list amplifying and honoring the work of Black women change agents across the nation. In an interview at the time, she shared her belief that self-sufficiency and a strong work ethic are keys to “staying woke.”

“Take nothing for granted, that you are a part of the change you want to see,” Warren said. “And staying woke means to wake up and realize that no one else is going to do this for you — you have to get out there and do the work. You have to want to climb that stairway. There’s no sitting on the sidelines for this.”

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