Listen to any evening or cable news report on the surge in women running for office, both locally and nationwide, and you’ll hear that around 40% of candidates this election cycle are women, a drastic and exciting increase since the 2016 elections. It is, however, vital that we remember there are already many women in government doing important and understated work, sometimes for years. Maryland Delegate Joseline Pena Melnyk is one who should be on your radar.
Joseline is the personification of the American Dream. Born in the Dominican Republic and then raised in New York City, she made her way to college to study criminal justice and then to law school. Her experience as a public defender in Philadelphia and then with the U.S. Department of Justice laid the groundwork for her position in the Maryland House of Delegates as a voice for the most vulnerable in our society. She is the kind of legislator you want by your side, a “ride or die”-type of friend, colleague, and civil servant that everyone needs in their corner. Joseline dedicates herself to the causes close to her heart and doesn’t suffer colleagues who she believes fail in their duty to appropriately represent the citizens of Maryland.
Joseline has been in the House of Delegates since 2007, representing Prince George’s and Ann Arundel Counties with a passion and dedication reflective of who she is as a person. She has been the main sponsor on over 70 pieces of legislation since taking office, 15 of those in 2018 alone, and is the face of the fight access to quality health care and education in Maryland. However, most people don’t know that she is one of the most accessible delegates around, sometimes meeting with her constituents into the wee hours of the morning to make sure everyone is heard. It’s this concern for the people in her District that led her to sponsor Lauryn’s Law in 2015, a major piece of legislation named after a 15 year old who took her life. Lauryn’s Law ensures that educators and school counselors are prepared to identify and assist students at risk of suicidal behaviors. Joseline became a part of Lauryn’s story when Lauryn’s mother reached out, desperate for help. In 2013 Lauryn’s mother noticed that her daughter’s grades had begun to drop, so she called the school counselor and asked her to meet with Lauryn to find out what was going on. That meeting with the counselor, sadly, never took place, and one month Lauryn committed suicide. This was, rightly, unacceptable to Joseline. She became the change she wanted to see, and her tenacity in getting this law passed has likely saved countless lives.
Everything Joseline does reflects her concern for her constituents and she has proven herself to be an incredible role model, mentor and advocate. She visits hospitals to find out how people are receiving treatment; she helps people who are facing foreclosure on their homes; she takes on predatory lenders; and she gives scholarships to Maryland youth who work hard to get an education because she believes that education and hard work lead to prosperity. She also leads by example, raising 3 children to aim high and earn their places at The University of Maryland and Yale University.
Joseline never takes for granted the privilege she has had to serve the people who support her. To learn more about her activities in the House of Delegates, go to http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?stab=01&pid=sponpage&id=pena&tab=subject6&ys=2018RS. If you would like to contribute to Joseline’s campaign, please go to http://www.joselinepenamelnyk.com. You can be sure that she’ll keep delivering on her promise to make the lives of all Marylanders better.