Shelley Mayer has traded her Morningside Heights office for a seat in Albany. Earlier this spring, Mayer, who served as senior counsel to the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School , was elected to the New York State Assembly representing District 93—her hometown of Yonkers.
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Law School's Shelley Mayer Elected to State Assembly
Mayer, 59, was voted into office in an uncontested special election in March. A former assistant attorney general in New York who prosecuted cases of age discrimination and violations of reproductive, tenants’ and consumers’ rights for more than a decade, Mayer spoke about her new job in an during the 144-mile commute to the state capital. Since 2002, Mayer and her husband of 32 years, Lee Smith, have lived in her childhood home in Yonkers.
“I feel like I’ve been in Yonkers all of my life,” said Mayer, who has served New York’s fourth largest city as a member of its democratic committee, NAACP, YWCA and the board of the public library, among other organizations. “There is a history of corruption in Yonkers, but it is a great small city with so much potential. I feel very fortunate to represent Yonkers—it’s a tremendous challenge and a wonderful opportunity.”
As an assemblywoman, Mayer’s first vote supported legislation that will protect victims of domestic violence, and she plans to make Yonkers’ public schools a top priority. “We have great schools, but we must continue to invest in them,” said Mayer, who advocates a return of robust sports programs in order to form “whole schools.”
Mayer, a graduate of UCLA and SUNY Buffalo School of Law, is also backing a bill that would establish a State University of New York engineering school in Yonkers. “We have 26,000 kids in public school, and SUNY is an affordable option that would generate economic activity and bring students to Yonkers.”
Mayer arrived at the law school center a year ago with 14 years of experience in the office of former New York Attorney General Bob Abrams. The program, led by Law Professor James E. Tierney , a former Maine attorney general, provides research and legal information to state prosecutors. “We help attorneys general do their jobs,” said Tierney. “We combine academic work with what state attorneys general do in the field by teaching ethics and law enforcement.”
With a grant from the Ford Foundation, Tierney hired Mayer to explore the provisions of President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation and write recommendations for attorneys general if the law passes Supreme Court review. Mayer also conducted a nationwide survey on the enforcement of labor laws and workers’ rights and spoke to Columbia law students about careers in state and local government.
When Mayer decided to run for public office, Tierney enthusiastically backed her. “This is great for Columbia and great for New York,” said Tierney. “Shelley is an asset to Yonkers.”
Commencement Week 2012
View a slideshow of photos from University Commencement and Class Day activities of the 258th Academic Year.
Alfred Stepan, Wallace Sayre Professor of Government in the School of International and Public Affairs and the Political Science department, will receive the Karl Deutsch Award in comparative politics, which is given every three years, at the World Congress of the International Political Science in Madrid.
Pedro A. Sanchez, director of tropical agriculture and rural environment at the Earth Institute, Jagdish N. Bhagwati, University Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, and Andre Okounkov, the Samuel Eilenberg Professor of Mathematics, were inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished achievements in original research.
Biotech company Roche awarded Jeff Bandar and Alexandria P. Brucks the Excellence In Chemistry Award for research accomplishments in the fields of synthetic organic chemistry, bio-organic chemistry, and computational chemistry.
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