NY-17: Mondaire Jones (D)
Mondaire Jones was born to a young, single mother at Nyack Hospital and raised in the working-class village of Spring Valley, which is in Rockland County.
Like many single moms, his mother leaned heavily on her parents for help raising her kid. His grandfather was a janitor at Pomona Middle School. His grandmother cleaned homes in the hamlets of Congers and Hillcrest. When daycare was too expensive, as it is for millions of parents in the United States, she took her grandson to work.
In addition to being born and raised in Rockland County, which is in New York’s 17th congressional district, Mondaire has lived in the district for most of his life. He attended public schools in East Ramapo throughout his childhood, and remains proud of the education he received.
Faced with the constant threat of defeat of the East Ramapo public school budget, while in high school, he revived the Spring Valley NAACP Youth Council and led that organization in registering and mobilizing voters. When he was 19, he was elected chair of a committee on the NAACP’s National Board of Directors. He took his activism to Stanford University, where as a student leader he championed progressive causes, from faculty and graduate student diversity to a living wage for dining hall and maintenance workers.
After college, he served in the Obama Administration. In the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice, he worked on judicial nominations for the White House, including that of future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. At DOJ, he co-authored a report to Attorney General Eric Holder on reducing the recidivism of people leaving federal prisons and helping them rejoin society.
While a student at Harvard Law School, Jones represented defendants who could not afford counsel in criminal proceedings. Following graduation, he worked at a law firm and was honored by the Legal Aid Society for his hundreds of hours of pro bono legal work. He investigated claims of discrimination under federal and local laws, and helped victims of mortgage modification fraud get compensated for what happened to them during the Financial Crisis.
Jones is the co-founder of the non-profit Rising Leaders, Inc., which teaches leadership skills to underserved middle-school students in three cities. In 2018, the organization received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additionally, he serves on the board of Yonkers Partners in Education.
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