In honor of the first-ever female majority in the New York City Council, the Gardiner-Shenker Student Scholars researched women in local government and utilized the Archives' City Council Collection. Of the Council's 51 district representatives, 31 of them are female, and they represent a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

Over the course of the year, the students conducted primary research and learned about specific City Council members whom they wished to interview. The students prepared and workshopped their questions with their faculty mentors and peers before conducting oral history interviews in groups, as well as individually and in pairs.

The interviews were inspiring to the students, who all felt they'd gained new insight into the workings of city government. These interviews will be archived for future researchers at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and excerpts are shared on this website. Students wrote papers and created photo projects based on issues that they discussed in the interviews.

With this project, we seek to encourage students to become more deeply engaged with their communities and district leaders. We hope to encourage active civic engagement and awareness of local government. Finally, this work celebrates the historic moment of having the first female majority in City Council, five female Deputy Mayors, and a female City Council Speaker, Adrienne Adams.

Click/hover on district

Interviews with Participating Elected Officials:

Student Work

Yakira Nunez
"When girls see women in leadership roles, they are encouraged to pursue the same path. Statistically, there are fewer women in these positions. Young women need to know that their ideas matter, their perspective matters, and their voices matter. It is important that they understand just how far their ambitions can take them."

Teresa DeVivo
"The women in our city government are a testimony to the changes that are taking place here in NYC. It has been fascinating to interview former and current Council Members who have truly had a positive, multiplier effect on other women."

Jophiel Astorga
"Women face tremendous barriers and push back when they pursue any leadership positions and it is important to analyze the journey they take to get to these important positions. These analyses can provide a clearer map on the impact that women have in leadership positions but also how we can continue to improve and promote a more equitable workforce."

Maria Fonseca Morales
"Women are often targeted and undermined by a system that protects the status quo. I love the idea of writing and creating historical artifacts that will document this current moment in history as women position themselves in leadership positions and as the city of New York experiences a boom in the involvement and representation of women it politics."

Josue Mendoza
"Time after time women have made a huge positive difference in the world. We can learn from their strength, persistence, intelligence, and the influence they have. Times are changing and it's exciting to see women and women of color/minorities become more of our leaders."

Kaja Conrad
"I think it is important to study women in leadership because we get insight into the struggles they may still face in historically male annals of power, and see how they overcome those struggles and perform effectively in the face of adversity. It is important for subsequent generations of women to know as much about those who came before them as possible, so they can prepare and continue to fight for themselves and each other."

Samantha Moura
"Overall, women are underrepresented in governmental positions because our patriarchal society raises them to be caregivers, oppresses them into undervaluing themselves, and discourages them at a young age from pursuing leadership positions. I joined this project because prejudice and oppression have impacted women's self-esteem, causing them to underestimate their abilities in higher level jobs."

Graciela Salazar
"Women’s leadership in the New York City Council is changing the female perspective of vulnerability giving hope to young women that their struggle will be worth it. Women in Politics have demonstrated commitment by implementing governance, economic, environmental, and social justice legislations to community development. Their invaluable contribution to politics is transforming New York City into a more inclusive and developed society"

Anna Tresvalles
"I hope that students can learn the ways women help make impactful change in our city through our research, and how having them in positions in New York means someone is fighting to uplift all of us. Hopefully we can encourage each other to become more engaged and learn how to advocate for ourselves and our school through their example."

John Puga
"I think it’s important for women of all ages to see a version of themselves in leadership positions. In doing so it can serve as a source of inspiration, while providing a framework for action and change. By highlighting these local women in government, I think this project can serve as a catalysis for anyone seeking motivation to transcend not only their reality, but the community they serve."

Karina Martinez
"This project meant a lot to me because it allowed me to show people where I come from. It allowed me to explore and appreciate the beauty of my neighborhood and capture little details that usually go unnoticed. I’m glad I had an opportunity to document the changes and evolution of the neighborhood and I'm grateful that I was able to create a visual record that can be shared with future generations."

Lucia Chavira
"Women in leadership pave the path towards equity. Mobilizing generations towards equity is what defines women in leadership. The importance of humanity and resilience in addressing gender equity is the valuable lesson I learned from the "Women in Government" project led by Molly Rosner this project. A transition towards gender equity as a means of combating climate change underscores the important lessons of “opening spaces” for women in leadership."

Kelly Landrigan
"Exploring women's representation, parity, and barriers to office has been invaluable to me both personally and academically. In doing so, we were able to discover how very significant the successes of women are locally and transnationally. I feel that by working as a team on this project we were able to gain understanding of the collaboration that is key to the amazing work done by the women in our own New York City Council."

We put together two pieces of supplementary materials. A booklet that traces the history of women in City Council up to the present moment and a video documenting our project.

The booklet contains archival images and a timeline of notable moments related to women in City Council that come from our collection, notes on every female member of the city council, portraits of the contemporary women in city council and a list of the Committees that they chair, quotes from the Gardiner-Shenker students, and an introduction from the College's President, Kenneth Adams.

The video documents the reflections of students and faculty mentors who participated in our project as well as excerpts from the interviews with Council Members.

    Project Team:
  • Molly Rosner, Director of Education Programs, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Stephen Weinstein, Assistant to the Director, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Project Mentors: Maureen Drennan, Lidiya Kan, Dr. Nichole Shippen, Dr. Anja Vojvodic
  • Fmr. Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Project Advisor
  • Riley Owens, Graphic Design, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Brandon Calva, Video Editor, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Mike Schuwerk, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Art Director and Designer
  • Oleg Kleban, Information Systems Associate, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
    Special Thanks:
  • Kenneth Adams, President, LaGuardia Community College
  • Billie Gastic-Rosado, Provost, LaGuardia Community College
  • Richard K. Lieberman, Director, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Soraya Ciego-Lemur, Interim Director, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives

This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the New York City Council and the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation.