BLACK HISTORY MONTH: News 12 spotlights new Rockland County legislator who made local history
When Dana Stilley was sworn in last month, she became the first African American woman to be a Rockland County legislator.
"I was just really overjoyed, and excited,” said Stilley in an interview with News 12 inside the Rockland County legislative chambers in New City.
"It's our experiences that impact the way that we govern. The way that we create policy. The way that we communicate with each other. The way our community is impacted,” said Stilley. “Having a Black woman here broadens that lens and I think that will certainly benefit all the members of our community."
Legislator Stilley wants to improve gun safety and find ways to create more diverse housing options in Rockland.
The Democrat beat incumbent republican James Foley in the November 2023 general election for the seat.
Legislator Stilley chairs the Government Operations committee and vice chairs the Minority & Women Business Enterprise committee.
She is also a member of the Budget of Finance and Public Safety committees.
Stilley is a life long Rocklander.
She grew up in Sparkill, was a student in the South Orangetown School district and now lives with her family in Piermont.
She graduated from Brown University, has a masters from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Old Dominion University.
Now she is an adjunct professor at Dominican University and is the CEO of The Stilley Agency, which helps people getting a doctorate.
Stilley says, "throughout all those great experiences, in a very diverse, a very friendly, a very welcoming community I've just learned to keep going. If you believe it and you work hard, you'll be able to achieve everything that you want to."
She took News 12 to the St. Charles AME Zion Church in Sparkill, a historic building where she believes her life- long involvement there has played a role in who she is today.