Jahana Hayes is the U.S. Representative for the Fifth Congressional District of Connecticut. The district spans northwest and central Connecticut and includes Danbury, Litchfield County, the Farmington Valley, the Naugatuck Valley, Meriden, and her hometown of Waterbury.
Representative Hayes was elected to the United States House of Representatives in November 2018, making her the first African-American woman and the first African-American Democrat to ever represent the state of Connecticut in Congress. Hayes first garnered widespread recognition while serving as a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, when she was selected as the Connecticut Teacher of the Year, before going on to earn the distinction of 2016 National Teacher of the Year (NTOY). In her capacity as NTOY, Hayes traveled the country and the world as an ambassador for public education engaging all stakeholders in policy discussions meant to improve outcomes for students.
Congresswoman Hayes’ story is one of achievement despite the odds and overcoming the obstacles that life can place before you. She has been quoted as saying that “education saved her life” and is a fierce advocate for ensuring equitable access to educational opportunities for all students and families. Before running for office, she was an educator for 15 years, teaching history at Kennedy High School in Waterbury. Congresswoman Hayes strives to bring the same energy, passion, determination, work ethic and empathy that her community has come to know and respect to the halls of Congress. She currently sits on House committees of Education and Labor, and Agriculture. She is the chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations.
Areas of legislative focus for Congresswoman Hayes are equitable access to quality education, affordable health care, labor, agriculture, and the environment. Additional priority areas include: immigration reform, gun violence prevention, veterans issues, social justice, transportation, and working in a bipartisan way to bring positive change to the lives of every person in our community.
She is a graduate of Naugatuck Valley Community College, Southern Connecticut State University, the University of Saint Joseph and the University of Bridgeport, having earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in history and secondary education, a Master’s of Arts in curriculum and instruction, and a degree in administrative leadership.