Jahana Hayes

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Jahana Hayes
Jahana Hayes, official portrait, 116th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byElizabeth Esty
Personal details
Jahana Flemming

(1973-03-08) March 8, 1973 (age 48)
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Milford Hayes
EducationNaugatuck Valley Community College
Southern Connecticut State University (BA)
University of Saint Joseph (MA)
University of Bridgeport (SYC)
WebsiteHouse website

Jahana Flemming Hayes (born March 8, 1973)[1] is an American educator and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Connecticut's 5th congressional district since 2019. The district, once represented by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, comprises much of the state's northwestern portion, including New Britain, Danbury, and Waterbury. A member of the Democratic Party, Hayes is the first African-American woman and African-American Democrat to represent Connecticut in Congress.[2][3] She was recognized as the National Teacher of the Year in 2016.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Hayes was born on March 8, 1973,[5] in Waterbury, Connecticut, and grew up in public housing projects in that city. She earned an associate degree at Naugatuck Valley Community College and a bachelor's degree at Southern Connecticut State University.[6] In 2012, Hayes earned a master's degree in curriculum and instruction at the University of Saint Joseph.[7] In 2014, she earned her Sixth-Year Certificate from the University of Bridgeport School of Education.[8]

Teaching career[edit]

Hayes's first job was at the Southbury Training School in Connecticut.[9] She went on to teach government and history at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury. She also chaired the Kennedy SOAR Review Board, a "school within a school" that provided advanced instruction for gifted students, and was a co-adviser of HOPE, a student-service club at Kennedy.[8] In 2015, she was John F. Kennedy Teacher of the Year and then the Waterbury School District Educator of the Year.[8] In 2016 she was named Connecticut's Teacher of the Year.[10]

This award won Hayes widespread media attention. "I really think that we need to change the narrative, change the dialogue about what teaching is as a profession," Hayes told The Washington Post. "We've spent a lot of time in the last few years talking about the things that are not working. We really need to shift our attention to all the things that are working." Appearing on Ellen DeGeneres's talk show, Hayes said she taught her students "kindness" and "community service."[11] After receiving the award, she addressed the annual meeting of the National Education Association. "I am so grateful to be a member of the NEA," she said, praising it for preventing the "altruistic character trait that all teachers possess" from being exploited.[12]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



In 2018, Hayes ran for the Democratic nomination for Connecticut's 5th congressional district. Her difficult upbringing was a cornerstone of her campaign. “I know what it’s like to go to bed to gunshots outside,” she told an audience at a candidate forum. “I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning to a dead body in the hallway."[6]

Hayes won the primary on August 14, beating Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman, who was endorsed by the Connecticut Democratic Party, 62% to 38%.[13] In the November general election, she faced Republican Manny Santos, a former mayor of Meriden.[11]

Hayes supports public education and teachers' unions, and has credited her "union brothers and sisters" with playing a role in her success.[9] In the 2018 election, she was endorsed by the Connecticut Education Association.[14] Her candidacy was also supported by the Connecticut Working Families Party (CTWFP), with CTWFP state director Lindsay Farrell saying that her primary victory "demonstrates the value in electing and mobilizing teachers who will fight for public education, stand up to [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos, and advocate the importance of collective bargaining."[11]

On November 6, Hayes declared victory, becoming the first black Democratic House member from Connecticut.[2][3][4] She and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts's 7th congressional district[15] are the first women of color to be elected to Congress from New England.[16][17]


Hayes was reelected, defeating Republican nominee David X. Sullivan with 55.1% of the vote.[18]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Hayes voted to condemn the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as antisemitic.[19]

On September 24, 2019, Hayes announced that she supported formal impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.[20] On December 18, 2019, she voted to impeach Trump on both articles of impeachment.

Soon after winning a second term, Hayes circulated a letter to the Republican House leadership urging it not to place Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on the House Education Committee, citing Greene's claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and other mass school shootings were false flag operations. Sandy Hook is in Hayes's district.[21]

In 2020, Hayes was reported to be on the shortlist for Secretary of Education in the Biden Administration,[22] but Connecticut State Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona was selected.

As of June 2021, Hayes had voted in line with President Joe Biden's stated position 95.7% of the time.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Hayes lives in Wolcott, north of Waterbury, with her husband and four children.[24] On September 20, 2020, she tested positive for COVID-19.[25]

Electoral history[edit]

Connecticut's 5th congressional district results, 2020[26]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jahana Hayes 183,797 52.58%
Republican David X. Sullivan 151,988 43.48%
Independent Bruce W. Walczak 5,052 1.45%
Working Families Jahana Hayes 8,687 2.49%
Total votes 349,524 100%
Democratic hold
Democratic primary results, Connecticut 2018[27]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jahana Hayes 24,693 62.27%
Democratic Mary Glassman 14,964 37.73%
Total votes 39,657 100%
Connecticut's 5th congressional district results, 2018[28]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jahana Hayes 151,225 55.87%
Republican Manny Santos 119,426 44.12%
Write-in 13 0.01%
Total votes 270,664 100%
Democratic hold

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jahana Hayes, ’05, is First Southern Grad Elected to National Office
  2. ^ a b ZHOU, AMANDA; BARNUM, MATT. "Jahana Hayes, nation's top teacher in 2016, is headed to Congress after the victory". Chalkbeat. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Pager, Tyler. "In Connecticut, Race Between Lamont and Stefanowski Is Close as Wet Ballots Delay Count". The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Connley, Courtney. "Former National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes becomes Connecticut's first black woman elected to Congress". CNBC Make it. CNBC LLC. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  5. ^ "Jahana Hayes". connvoters.com. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  6. ^ a b MAHNKEN, Kevin. "Troubled Student, Teen Mom, Teacher of the Year: Is Connecticut Congressional Candidate Jahana Hayes the New Face of the Democratic Party?". The 74. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  7. ^ "JAHANA HAYES M'12". University of Saint Joseph. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Geary, Leslie. "UB's Jahana Hayes wins National Teacher of the Year". UB News. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  9. ^ a b PAZNIOKAS, MARK. "AFL-CIO endorses Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, Jahana Hayes". The CT Mirror. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Eversly, Melanie. "She 'inspires her students': Jahana Hayes on track to become Connecticut's first Black Congressional Democrat". the grio. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Schallhorn, Kaitlyn. "Who is Jahana Hayes, the Connecticut candidate who could make history?". FOX News. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Hayas, Jahana. "Back to: Press Releases / National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes addresses fellow NEA members 0 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes addresses fellow NEA members". National Education Association. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  13. ^ Cohen, Rachel M.; Grim, Ryan. "JAHANA HAYES CRUSHES PARTY-BACKED CANDIDATE IN A LANDSLIDE". The Intercept. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  14. ^ Vigdor, Neil. "Educators Endorse Former National Teacher Of The Year Jahana Hayes For Congress". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  15. ^ Hess, Abigail (November 7, 2018). "Ayanna Pressley makes history as Massachusetts' first black woman elected to Congress". CNBC.
  16. ^ Balingit, Moriah. "She was a teen mother who became teacher of the year. Now, Jahana Hayes wants to become Connecticut's first black Democratic member of Congress". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  17. ^ "Women of Color in Congress". History, Art, & Archives. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  18. ^ "Connecticut Election Results: Fifth Congressional District". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  19. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 497". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  20. ^ https://hayes.house.gov/media/press-releases/congresswoman-hayes-actions-president-lead-me-no-other-conclusion-support
  21. ^ Michael Hamad (January 28, 2021). "Rep. Jahana Hayes asks Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene not be seated on House Education Committee after she questioned legitimacy of Sandy Hook shooting". The Hartford Courant.
  22. ^ Munson, Emilie. "Here are the CT leaders who could end up in Biden's administration". Stamford Advocate. Stamford Advocate. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  23. ^ Bycoffe, Anna Wiederkehr and Aaron (April 22, 2021). "Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  24. ^ Connley, Courtney. "2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes could become Connecticut's first black Democrat in Congress". CNBC. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  25. ^ Congresswoman Jahana Hayes Tests Positive for COVID-19
  26. ^ "2020 Connecticut general election results". Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  27. ^ "2018 Connecticut primary election results". Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  28. ^ "2018 Connecticut general election results" (PDF). Retrieved June 22, 2019.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Elizabeth Esty
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 5th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Josh Harder
United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Chrissy Houlahan