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Color: Black
Food: Macaroni and cheese
Quote: How does the world _?_ when you walk through it.
Season: Winter
Vacation Destination: None
Birthplace
Mount Vernon, New York United States
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 11/7/2016 |and| 12/1/2016

Policy advisor and state senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson was born on November 6, 1942 in New York, New York to master tailor Branon Hassell, and housewife Thelma Crump Hassell. Hassell-Thompson graduated from the Nathan Hale School in Mount Vernon, New York. She later attended Bronx Community College and Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.

In 1963, Hassell-Thompson began working as a pediatric nurse and substance abuse counselor for Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital in Mount Vernon, New York, where she worked for thirty-six years. Between 1971 and 1980, she worked for the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, serving in a number of positions, including director of an infant daycare center and assistant to the executive director. Then, from 1980 to 1987, Hassell-Thompson served as executive director of the Westchester Minority Contractors Association. Hassell-Thompson joined the Mount Vernon City Council in 1993, where she served as council president and acting Mayor of the City of Mount Vernon. Hassell-Thompson served as vice chairperson of the Urban Renewal Board and Real Estate Board until 2000, when she was elected as a Democratic member of the New York State Senate, representing District 36. Hassell-Thompson served eight terms in the New York State Senate and was instrumental in the passage of New York’s Marriage Equality legislation. In 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Hassell-Thompson as special advisor for policy and community affairs of New York State Homes and Community Renewal. In addition to her role in office, Hassell-Thompson served as president and chief executive officer of Whart Development Company, Inc. From 1996 until 2001, Hassell-Thompson served as president of The Gathering, a women’s center in Mount Vernon. She was also a health educator for the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, and served as a consultant with Automotive Consultant, Inc.

Hassell-Thompson was the recipient of two honorary degrees from Mercy College and Eastern Theological Consortium. In 2003, she received a Harriet Tubman Award from the Greater Centennial Church and in 2004, she received the Drum Major Award from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. Hassell-Thompson has also received the Joseph P. Gavrin Memorial Award and a Fanny Lou Hamer Award from the Westchester Black Women's Political Caucus in 2016.

Hassell-Thompson lives in Mount Vernon, New York. She has two daughters, Tracy Thompson and Helene Njenga MacFarlane.

The Honorable Ruth Hassell-Thompson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: