Andrea Alice Stewart-Cousins (born September 2, 1950) is an American politician and educator from Yonkers, New York. A member of the Democratic Party, Stewart-Cousins represents District 35 in the New York State Senate. She serves as the body's Majority Leader and Temporary President. Stewart-Cousins is the first woman in the history of New York State to lead a conference in the New York State Legislature and is also the first female Senate Majority Leader in New York history. Stewart-Cousins was first elected to the New York State Senate in 2006. She previously served as a Westchester County Legislator from 1996 to 2006. In 2012, she was chosen by her colleagues to lead the Senate Democratic Conference. After the Democratic Party won an outright Senate majority in the 2018 elections, Stewart-Cousins became Majority Leader in January 2019.

Early life and education

Andrea Stewart was born on September 2, 1950, in New York City. She is the daughter of Bob Stewart, a decorated World War II veteran and repairman, and Beryl Stewart, a stenographer and community activist. The Stewart family resided in public housing in Manhattan and the Bronx, and Andrea suffered from chronic asthma. Stewart-Cousins spent twenty years in the private sector, including thirteen years in sales and marketing with New York Telephone (later known as AT&T). After New York Telephone went out of business, she received a buyout and pursued a college degree while working for Gannett. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Pace University and her teaching credentials in Business Education from Lehman College. She received her Masters of Public Administration from Pace University in May 2008 and is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, the public administration honor society. She also pursued careers in journalism and teaching before entering public service.


Yonkers Director of Community Affairs

Stewart-Cousins's public service career began in 1992 when she was appointed Director of Community Affairs in the City of Yonkers. In that role, she created an internship program for the hearing-impaired and for children in working families. She also advocated for and contributed to the revitalization of the City of Yonkers and was a founder of the original "Art on Main Street". Stewart-Cousins was a co-creator of "River Fest", a widely attended multi-cultural citywide celebration on the Hudson River in Yonkers.

Westchester County Legislator

Prior to her election to the New York State Senate in 2006, Stewart-Cousins served as a Westchester County Legislator representing Yonkers. First elected in 1995, she served from 1996 to 2006. During her tenure, she was elected Majority Whip and Vice-Chair. Stewart-Cousins authored living wage laws, smoke-free workplace laws, tougher gun laws, laws that prosecute predatory lenders, tax cuts for seniors and veterans, and Westchester County's first human rights laws.

New York State Senate

Stewart-Cousins first ran for New York State Senate in 2004, but was defeated by 18 votes by incumbent Republican Sen. Nicholas Spano. In 2006, she challenged Spano again and defeated him. As of 2019, Senate District 35 includes all of Greenburgh and Scarsdale and portions of Yonkers, White Plains and New Rochelle. Stewart-Cousins voted in favor of same-sex marriage legislation on December 2, 2009, but the bill was defeated. A same-sex marriage law was eventually passed in 2011. Stewart-Cousins is a vocal supporter of abortion rights, and has pushed for legislation to expand abortion access in the State of New York. On April 17, 2010, it was reported that Stewart-Cousins was under consideration by then-gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo to be his running mate. Cuomo ultimately chose Rochester mayor Bob Duffy instead.

Senate Democratic Leader

On December 17, 2012, Stewart-Cousins was elected Senate Democratic Leader. Stewart-Cousins is the first woman in history to lead a conference in the New York State Legislature.

Senate Majority Leader

The Democratic Party won a Senate majority in the 2018 elections. On January 9, 2019, Stewart-Cousins was elected Senate Majority Leader. She serves as the body's Majority Leader and Temporary President, and is the first female Senate Majority Leader in New York history. In 2019, Stewart-Cousins sponsored the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which overhauled the rules affecting rent-controlled apartments in New York City. During Stewart-Cousins's first year as Senate Majority Leader, New York passed a variety of progressive laws on issues like climate change, voting rights, abortion rights, criminal justice reform, gender equality, gun control, marijuana decriminalization, LGBT rights, and immigration. According to City & State New York, Stewart-Cousins employs a "consensus-driven approach" to leading the Senate Democratic Conference that sets her "apart from her predecessors".


In 2019, Stewart-Cousins was named to ''Crain's New York Business'' biennial list of the "Most Powerful Women in New York". In February 2021, she was presented with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for 2020.

Personal life

At age 19, Stewart gave birth to her first child, a son. In 1979, Stewart married Thomas Cousins, and the couple moved to Yonkers. Stewart-Cousins has three children and four grandchildren. Thomas Cousins died on November 26, 2007.

Electoral history

Westchester County Legislature

New York State Senate

See also

* 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis

Further reading

*Paterson, David ''"Black, Blind, & In Charge: A Story of Visionary Leadership and Overcoming Adversity."''Skyhorse Publishing. New York, New York, 2020


External links

New York State Senate: Andrea Stewart-Cousins
* |- |- |- {{DEFAULTSORT:Stewart-Cousins, Andrea Category:1950 births Category:2020 United States presidential electors Category:21st-century American politicians Category:21st-century American women politicians Category:African-American state legislators in New York (state) Category:African-American women in politics Category:Lehman College alumni Category:Living people Category:New York (state) Democrats Category:New York (state) state senators Category:Pace University alumni Category:Legislators from Westchester County, New York Category:Women state legislators in New York (state)