Residents of New York City, remember Bianca Guerrero ’17’s name. The recent grad is already making waves in city government.
Guerrero works in the Mayor’s Office of Policy & Planning as the special assistant to the mayor’s chief policy advisor; her policy research and proposals address new ways of tackling climate change, identifying public health strategies and increasing worker protections. “The mayor recently announced one of the proposals we’ve been working on — paid time off for all employees [in the private sector] in New York City,” Guerrero says. “I hope it’s the next big worker benefit that starts in NYC and spreads across the country.”
Photo by Omar Etman
Guerrero, who grew up in Washington Heights and Yonkers, first went to City Hall in 2017 as an Urban Fellow, part of a nine-month program sponsored by the city that provides public policy work opportunities in mayoral offices and city agencies. “It was like a crash course in New York City government,” Guerrero says. “I was in the Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services’ office, supporting its health and homelessness policy teams. A program we started around improving maternal mortality rates and outcomes got funded right after I left the fellowship, and it was the first time I realized how really impactful policies are if you get the funding and momentum.”
Guerrero says she’s always been interested in public service. “My parents are both public school teachers and immigrants from the Dominican Republic. We’re a very close family and most of my extended family are low-income, so I had an ethos that you can’t only think of yourself; you have to think of others around you.” In high school, Guerrero read a biography of Robert F. Kennedy and became obsessed. “That made me understand what public service and social justice really is,” she says.
Guerrero, a political science major, was a recipient of a 2016 Truman Scholarship, which grants $30,000 for graduate study and provides a stipend for scholars to live and work in Washington, D.C. Guerrero worked at the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. “I care a lot about issues like affordable housing and tenants’ rights,” she says. “I learned that affordable housing is a problem beyond NYC and there’s much more that federal and state governments can do to address it.”
In addition to her work at City Hall, Guerrero serves on a community board, on committees for traffic and transportation, and housing and human services. “I’m trying to connect what I’m doing at my job to problems that my neighbors are having on the ground. I want to make sure these really progressive policy ideas aren’t brushing past everyday concerns,” she says.
Guerrero has her own concerns to advocate for: She was recently diagnosed with endometriosis. “The disease is the thing that makes me most angry in the world,” she says. “The average woman in America suffers for 10 or more years and visits eight doctors before a diagnosis, and my experience is on point with that. It affects 1 in 10 women, and doctors still aren’t sure how it works, plus the treatments really suck. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has participated in national campaigns to build awareness; I’d like to link with patient advocates.”
When asked where she wants to be in 10 years, Guerrero says, “I love working in government. I might want to work with people putting pressure on the executive branches, like the National Domestic Workers Alliance — Ai-Jen Poo ’96 is my role model! — expanding the conversations around workers’ rights. I want to work for an organization that is raising people’s expectations of government and expanding who worker policies serve.”