David A. Paterson became New York’s 55th Governor on March 17, 2008. In his first address as Governor, Paterson spoke about the challenges New York faces and his plan for New York’s future.
In his 23 years serving the people of New York, Governor Paterson has worked towards change by reaching across party lines and bringing people together. His thoughtful, inclusive approach to governing has won him the respect of colleagues and a reputation for uniting disparate forces towards consensus that benefits all New Yorkers.
At the age of 31 in 1985, Governor Paterson was elected to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate, becoming the youngest Senator in Albany. In 2003, he became the minority leader of the New York State Senate, the first non-white legislative leader in New York’s history. He made history again in 2004 when he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention. He became New York's first African American Lieutenant Governor in 2007, and then New York's first African American Governor in 2008.
As Lieutenant Governor, Governor Paterson led the charge on several crucial issues for New York’s future: achieving legislation for a $600 million stem cell research initiative in New York, the nation's second largest allocation; putting forth a statewide renewable energy strategy that harnesses the sun and wind; working to prevent domestic violence and empower its victims; and serving as the primary champion for minority- and women-owned businesses in New York.
Governor Paterson, who is legally blind, is nationally recognized as a leading active advocate for the visually and physically impaired. He is a member of the American Foundation for the Blind. In addition, he is a Member of the Board of the Achilles Track Club, having completed the New York City Marathon in 1999. He served as a member of the Democratic National Committee and as a board member of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
Governor Paterson was born May 20, 1954 in Brooklyn, NY to Portia and Basil Paterson, the first non-white Secretary of State in New York and the first African-American Vice-Chair of the National Democratic Party. He earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Columbia University in 1977, and completed his J.D. at Hofstra Law School in 1982. He continues to give back to his alma mater by serving as an adjunct professor at Columbia’s School for International and Public Affairs. Governor Paterson lives with his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, and their two children, Ashley and Alex. Ashley goes to college in Upstate New York, and Alex attends public school in New York City.