Shelley Mayer has spent her career as an advocate for New Yorkers. She is an experienced and progressive leader. Shelley was elected to the New York State Senate to represent the 37th District in an April 2018 Special Election, and she was subsequently re-elected in November 2018. Prior to her time in the State Senate, she served in the State Assembly for six years.
Shelley has been a champion for education issues and public schools throughout her time in the State Legislature. From 2013 to 2017, Shelley served as the Chair of the Assembly Education Subcommittee on Students with Special Needs. During this time, she advocated for and ensured that schools which serve the state’s most vulnerable students (Special Act, 4201, and 4410 Schools) receive increased funding from the state. White representing the City of Yonkers in the Assembly, Shelley prioritized delivering for the city’s 26,000+ public school students. In 2019, after being re-elected to the State Senate, Shelley was appointed to serve as the Chair of the State Senate Education Committee. One of her first achievements was the passing of the APPR bill which decoupled teacher evaluations from an undue reliance on state standardized tests. Shelley is also working on a civics package of bills to prepare New York State students for being engaged, active citizens in our democracy. She continues to work with her colleagues to deliver the resources and policies school districts throughout the state need to provide a quality education for every child, regardless of zipcode.
Prior to being elected as a member of the State Legislature, Shelley served as Chief Counsel to the New York State Senate Democrats, where she helped lead the effort to expel the disgraced Hiram Monserrate and helped draft critical legislation to reform Albany and protect taxpayers.
Before serving as Chief Counsel, Shelley was a Senior Counsel at the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School, where she focused on health care and labor law rights. For over seven years, she was Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Continuum Health Partners, one of New York City’s largest teaching hospital systems, working to protect Medicaid and Medicare services and improving the relationship between New York City’s diverse communities and the hospital system.
From 1982 to 1994, Shelley was an Assistant Attorney General in the office of New York Attorney General Bob Abrams where she handled major reproductive health litigation. Shelley served in the Civil Rights Bureau, as Chief of the Westchester Regional Office, as the legislative liaison for the Attorney General and ultimately as a senior advisor to the Attorney General. As an Assistant Attorney General, Shelley fought to protect civil rights for New Yorkers and to broaden laws protecting consumers and tenants.
Shelley received a JD from SUNY Buffalo School of Law in 1979 and a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA in 1975. Shelley lives in Yonkers with her husband of 36 years, Lee Smith. Shelley and Lee have three adult children – Aaron, Julia, and Arthur Smith.