Born September 21, 1965, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is known as an American politician and activist. She currently serves as the U.S. Representative from Washington’s seventh congressional district. She is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Jayapal was born in Chennai, India and was raised in Indonesia and Singapore. She immigrated to the United States in 1982, at the age of 16 to attend college. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and her master’s degree from Northwestern University.
After the September 11 attacks, Jayapal founded Hate Free Zone as an advocacy group for immigrants. Hate Free Zone registered new American citizens to vote and lobbied on immigration reform and related issues. The group successfully sued the Bush Administration’s Immigration and Naturalization Services to prevent the deportation of over 4,000 Somalis across the country. The name of the group was changed from Hate Free Zone to OneAmerica in 2008. In May of 2012, Jayapal stepped down from her leadership position in the group and in 2013 was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change.”
Jayapal also served on the Mayoral Advisory Committee that negotiated Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, and co-chaired the Mayor’s police chief search committee, which resulted in the unanimous selection of the city’s first woman police chief. After State Senator Adam Kline announced his retirement, Jayapal entered the race to succeed him. She went on the win in the race for Senator against Democrat Louis Watanabe in November of 2014.
In January of 2016, Jayapal announced her candidacy for Congress in Washington’s seventh congressional district. In April of 2016, she received an endorsement from Bernie Sanders, and on August 2, 2016, Jayapal finished first in the top-two primary, alongside state representative Brady Walkinshaw. In the end, Jayapal won the election with 56 percent of the vote.