Jenifer Rajkumar

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Jenifer Rajkumar
District Leader of New York State Assembly District 65, Part C
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1982-09-01) September 1, 1982 (age 36)
Tarrytown, New York
Political party Democratic
Residence Battery Park City
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania (B.A.)
Stanford Law School (J.D.)

Jenifer Rajkumar (born September 1, 1982) is a New York City politician, community leader and human rights lawyer. Rajkumar is a progressive Democrat.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Rajkumar was born in Tarrytown, New York and raised in Westchester County. She is the daughter of immigrants from India who came to the United States with just $300 and a suitcase, first settling in Queens.[2]

She is a graduate of Stanford Law School with pro bono distinction and the University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude, and graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. At Penn, she received the Alice Paul Award for exceptional community service.[3]

Political career[edit]

2011 District Leader race[edit]

In 2011, Rajkumar won the race to be District Leader of the 65th District of the New York State Assembly, beating out a 28-year incumbent with over 70% of the vote.[4] She has since been re-elected to that office two more times, in 2013 and 2015.[5] As district leader, Rajkumar led the successful effort to bring M9 bus service back to Battery Park City and has worked closely with Democracy for Battery Park City, an organization which seeks representation for residents of the neighborhood on the board of the Battery Park City Authority.[6][7] Rajkumar was endorsed for re-election for District Leader in 2015 by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.[8]

2013 City Council race[edit]

In 2013, Rajkumar ran for the New York City Council in the Democratic primary in New York City's first Council district, losing to incumbent Margaret Chin.[9][10] However, Rajkumar was able to secure 41.5% of the vote, more than any other candidate challenging an incumbent that year.[11] Throughout the highly publicized campaign, Rajkumar stressed her record on defending locals from developers and big moneyed interests as well as her desire to add more schools to the district.[12]

2016 State Assembly race[edit]

She ran for the New York State Assembly in the 65th District,[13] as the seat was occupied by Alice Cancel, who won a special election on April 19, 2016, to replace Sheldon Silver, who was convicted of corruption and expelled from the Assembly in 2015 (Silver's conviction was overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on July 13, 2017).[14][15][16] [17]

On April 25, 2016, Rajkumar officially launched her campaign to run for Silver's seat.[18] Rajkumar has centered her campaign around fighting for the middle class, protecting and expanding affordable housing, particularly through NYCHA, and replacing Albany's culture of corruption with a culture of service that will directly serve her Lower Manhattan constituents.[19] She was endorsed in this race by City Council Member Rafael Espinal.[20]

Rajkumar finished second in a six-way Democratic primary, the winner, Yuh-Line Niou, went on to win in the general election in November.[21]

New York Department of State[edit]

On February 6, 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Rajkumar as the director of immigration affairs and special counsel for the New York Department of State.[22][23]

Other activities[edit]

Rajkumar is a human rights lawyer. She practices law at Sanford Heisler Kimpel LLP, where she litigates gender discrimination, tenants' rights, and whistleblower cases.[24] In 2015, she was selected to Super Lawyers' New York-Metro Rising Stars List. She has litigated qui tam cases on behalf of whistleblowers combating corporate fraud. She was originating counsel on an amicus curiae brief filed in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of NOW, Legal Momentum, the National Women's Law Center, and Equal Rights Advocates in Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, presenting arguments in favor of equality for women in nontraditional fields of employment such as firefighting, construction and law enforcement. She was part of the legal team in Velez v. Novartis, one of the largest gender discrimination class actions ever to go to trial, which was named one of the top 10 cases in the world advancing women's rights by the United Nations.[25]

Rajkumar is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at CUNY's Lehman College in the Political Science Department.[26] Her teaching interests include immigration and government corruption.

Rajkumar is a regular panelist on PBS' To the Contrary. On the program, she has joined members of Congress and prominent national policy advocates in debating income inequality, health care, and human rights.[27] She was also the co-chair of the Ready for Hillary Millennial Council.[28]

Rajkumar serves on the Legal Advisory Council of Sanctuary for Families, New York City's leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence. She has spoken on public interest law and policy at Stanford Law School, CUNY Law School and Harvard Law School.[4]

She previously served on the national board of directors of the Women's Campaign Fund, which seeks to increase the number of women in elected office locally and nationally, and she currently serves on the Advisory Council of WIN.NYC.[29]


  1. ^ "Coalition of Women Back Rajkumar For Silver's Seat". TWC News: NY State of Politics. Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  2. ^ "Not Just Jenny From the Block". The New York Times Blog. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  3. ^ "About Jenifer". Jenifer For NYC. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  4. ^ a b "You Should Run: Advancing Social Justice by Running for Office". Harvard Law School. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  5. ^ "Manhattan Democrats District Leaders". Manhattan Democratic Party. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  6. ^ "District Leader Rajkumar Kicks Off Campaign for Assembly Seat". The Broadsheet. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  7. ^ "Indian American attorney Jenifer Rajkumar at the center of a $100 million lawsuit in New York". American Bazaar Online. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  8. ^ "Record Number Of Indian-American Women Running For Public Office In 2016". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  9. ^ "Downtown Democratic Council Primary Results". DNA Info. Archived from the original on 2016-08-11. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  10. ^ "A better choice for District 1". The Villager. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  11. ^ "New York City Primary Results". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  12. ^ "Angry debate between Chin & Rajkumar". Downtown Express. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  13. ^ "Rajkumar Announces Campaign for Assembly". Bowery Boogie. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  14. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (13 July 2017). "Sheldon Silver's 2015 Corruption Conviction Is Overturned". Retrieved 28 December 2017 – via
  15. ^ "Democrat Alice Cancel Wins Sheldon Silver's Old NYS Assembly Seat". CBS New York. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  16. ^ "Alice Cancel, Sheldon Silver's Chosen Successor, Takes His Assembly Seat". Observer. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  17. ^ "Silver crony Alice Cancel wins his state Assembly seat". The New York Post. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  18. ^ "Jenifer Rajkumar Officially Joins Race For Lower Manhattan Assembly Seat". The Lo-Down. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  19. ^ "A Progressive Voice for Lower Manhattan". Jenifer For NYC. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  20. ^ "Council Member Rafael Espinal Endorses Jenifer Rajkumar for State Assembly". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  21. ^ "Niou set to be new Assemblymember for Downtown - DOWNTOWN EXPRESS". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  22. ^ "Human Rights Attorney Jenifer Rajkumar Named to New Post in New York Department of State". Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  23. ^ "Jenifer Rajkumar: Director of Immigration Affairs & Special Counsel, New York Department of State". Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  24. ^ "Sanford Heisler Official Site". Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  25. ^ "Jenifer Rajkumar, Attorney Profile". Super Lawyers. Archived from the original on 2016-06-07. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  26. ^ "Jenifer Rajkumar - Lehman College of CUNY -". Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  27. ^ "To The Contrary Panelists: Jenifer Rajkumar". PBS. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  28. ^ "Ready for Hillary plans mid-April fundraiser in NYC". Politico. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  29. ^ "Campaign 2013: Our Interview With City Council Candidate Jenifer Rajkumar". The Lo-Down. Retrieved 2016-06-19.

External links[edit]