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Carmen Yulin Cruz      

Former Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Carmen Yulin Cruz is a Puerto Rican politician who served as mayor of the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico from 2013 to 2020. From 2009 through 2013, Cruz served in the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico.

Cruz was elected as the next mayor of San Juan on November 6, 2012, defeating three term-incumbent Mayor Jorge Santini in the city's 2012 mayoral election. She became the third woman to hold San Juan's mayoral office, after Felisa Rincón de Gautier and Sila Calderón.

Cruz's administration continued her predecessor Jorge Santini's plans for the revitalization of the Río Piedras district. The first phase of this plan consisted of the restoration of historic buildings in the subdivision. An economic plan spearheaded by José Rivera-Santana promoted incentives for housing and establishment of new businesses in Río Piedras, in an attempt to salvage the economic importance that the district once had. This was complemented with direct communication and collaboration with the local community and several institutions, including the University of Puerto Rico. She won reelection in the city's 2016 mayoral election.

In 2021, Cruz was appointed the Harriet L. Weissman and Paul M. Weissman Distinguished Fellow in Leadership at the Weissman Center for Leadership at Mount Holyoke College. Mount Holyoke and Cruz have worked together since 2018 when Cruz first visited the College. That visit resulted in a partnership between the College and San Juan, aimed at advancing girls and women in San Juan with a summer STEM camp for girls in San Juan, first piloted in 2018. In 2019, Cruz helped celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Weissman Center, and came bearing letters from the campers.

Cruz is an active advocate for equality, fighting for the LGBTQ community, the deaf community and children with functional diversity as well as those who have struggled with gender-based violence. She is also a champion for the rights of immigrants.

Her vision of public service is one of governing not for the people, but with the people. She believes a better society is built by having strong student organizations, labor unions, and by implementing programs such as participatory budgets, wherein the people in each community decide how to best develop sustainable plans for themselves.

Cruz has received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Martin Luther King Centre Justice, Peace and Freedom Award and Humanitarian Leadership Award in 2018, the Antonio Villaraigosa Leadership Award in 2018, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Humanitarian Award 2017, and the Puerto Rico Arts Alliance Felisa Rincón Legacy Public Service Award. She was also nominated by People en Español as one of the 50 most Powerful Women in 2017, and TIME Magazine chose her as candidate for Person of the Year recognition in 2017. In 2018, she was on the TIME Magazine list of the 100 most Influential People in the World for her leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. She has also received the prestigious Ridenhour Truth-Telling Award, as well as Casa de Esperanza's Award for Inspirational leadership, the Hank Aaron Champion of Justice Award, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Award for Economic Justice. In 2018, she was named to ESSENCE Magazine's Woke 100 Women list.

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