Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Congresswoman Barbara Lee was first elected to Congress in 1998. She notes that as a social worker by profession, being an advocate for people in dealing with the federal bureaucracy has been a priority. While she was in graduate school at UC Berkeley, Congresswoman Lee started a community mental health organization, called the Community Health Alliance for Neighborhood Growth and Change (Change, Inc.) because she saw a need in her community for mental health care, community education, and advocacy. It was through her social work experiences that lead her to be the social and racial justice advocate she is today.
Born in El Paso, Texas, Congresswoman Lee graduated from Mills College in Oakland and received her Master’s in social work from the University of California in Berkeley. She began her political career as an intern in the office of her predecessor, the late-Congressman Ron Dellums, where she eventually became his Chief of Staff. Before being elected to Congress, she served in the California State Assembly from 1990-1996 and the California State Senate from 1996-1998.
Congresswoman Lee has consistently been a progressive voice in Congress, dedicated to social and economic justice, international peace, and civil and human rights. She is committed to eradicating poverty, fostering opportunity and protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations Committee where she is the Chair of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. She also serves on the influential Budget Committee where she advocates for community investments. Furthermore, Congresswoman Lee is the chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus, Chair of the Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, past-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She is a co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, which determines committee assignments for Democrats. She is the only African American woman serving in the House Democratic Leadership through her role as a co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee.
Congresswoman Lee continues to champion legislation for our workforce reintroducing the Improving Access to Mental Health Act and the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act in the 116th Congress as the lead sponsor.