I am fighting climate change, and changing the status quo, to ensure a livable and just planet for my children and all children.
A Fighter’s Foundation
When I was four years old, my parents, Greek immigrants, opened a deli opposite The New York Times in midtown Manhattan, after years spent cleaning motel rooms and working odd jobs. At the time, all I knew was that my namesake grandmother watched me and my sister at home in Astoria, Queens while mama and baba went into the city to work. Years later, my mother told me that if the business hadn’t succeeded in the first week, they would have gone bust; they had spent all their money on inventory because, as inexperienced immigrants, they were unable to get credit for a new business.
A Consuming Passion
Now I am following in my parents’ footsteps, going all out to achieve a goal. I don’t dream of building a business, but a better world for my two elementary-school aged children. I found myself trying to explain to my daughter why winter was different when I was a little girl—back when it snowed and we didn’t have temperature shifts of 80 degrees from day to day. I grew up in Englewood Cliffs from the age of 16 on and am now raising my children in nearby Tenafly.
At first, I aimed to attack climate change from the business side doing what I do best—building and operating businesses—so working with a clean tech start-up that enables clean, renewable energy from hydrogen gas was my way of being part of the solution. Business is a world I have always been very comfortable in; having earned a BA in Economics and Government from Cornell, and an MBA in Finance and Business Economics and MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago, I spent nearly two decades on Wall Street, at one point working as a Managing Director at Allianz Global Investors.
My environmental activism also kicked into high gear after the 2016 election. I joined Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a grassroots, bipartisan organization that supports federal carbon fee and dividend legislation.
But as a single mother of two children growing up on this planet, attacking the problem of climate change from business and activist lenses soon didn’t seem effective enough. I decided to educate myself from a scientific standpoint, enrolling in the Masters of Science in Energy Policy and Climate program at Johns Hopkins. I’m dedicating the rest of my life to solving the climate crisis. When I read the UN’s IPCC report on Climate Change, I realized we have NO TIME left. We need to take bold action now. That’s when I decided to run for office.
I often remember my immigrant parents’ experience – an experience that many cultures share. Fighting for a livable world and a green economy also means supporting medicare for all, addressing income inequality, and supporting all our communities. As small business owners, my parents watched every penny. Health insurance was a luxury growing up, it was non-existent. My own father was never treated for what he thought was a muscle strain which turned out to be a heart attack that eventually killed him. He grew up very poor, and I know he was very careful spending money, so paying out of pocket for a doctor just to treat what he thought was a muscle strain was out of the question. I wonder if he could have been saved had he had health insurance.
A Plan for the Future
We’re stewards of this planet, not owners of it. With that in mind, my goal is to build a New Jersey, a country, and a biosphere in which future generations can not only survive, but thrive. I am starting this fight because our children deserve a better future. My generation is the last one that will remember what it was like before the climate crisis. I’ll only stop fighting when I’m confident that they will inherit a better world than the one we live in today. You can be sure that I will act only in the interests of my constituents because my campaign is 100% people funded. We refuse all corporate and fossil fuel contributions.