About Gustavo Rivera

Chairman of Committee on Health

Democrat, Working Families Democrat, Working Families

District 33

Gustavo Rivera - About image

State Senator Gustavo Rivera was elected to represent the 33rd Senate District in The Bronx in November of 2010. The 33rd Senate District includes The Bronx neighborhoods of Fordham, Belmont, Riverdale, Kingsbridge Heights, Norwood, Bedford Park, Pelham Parkway, Van Nest, Morris Park, and parts of Allerton. 

In 2018, after six years as Ranking Member of the Senate Health Committee, Senator Rivera was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins as Chair of the Senate Health Committee, the first person of color to ever lead it. In this role, Senator Rivera collaborates with his colleagues, stakeholders, and constituents to improve health outcomes, increase access to coverage, expand access to health care services, and ensure a financially viable system for the nearly 20 million New Yorkers he proudly serves. 

Throughout his legislative career, Senator Rivera has sponsored 71 bills that have become law. Since the Democratic Conference won the Senate Majority, Senator Rivera has passed multiple measures to eradicate medical debt from New York State and strengthen patients’ protections against financial burden resulting from necessary medical care. He has passed measures to expand health coverage for older, undocumented New Yorkers and extended coverage for new mothers for a full year after giving birth. In 2021, Senator Rivera’s bill established the Opioid Settlement Fund to ensure hundreds of millions of dollars received from lawsuits and enforcement actions by the State Attorney General against opioid manufacturers and distributors are dedicated towards substance use disorder prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction services to address New York’s insidious overdose epidemic. That same year, he passed historic laws establishing safe staffing in hospitals and nursing homes to keep New York patients safe. 

Currently, Senator Rivera is the main sponsor of the “New York Health Act”, a bill that would establish a first-in-the-nation single payer healthcare system in New York State and the “Safer Consumption Services Act,” which would establish and regulate evidence-based, internationally recognized Overdose Prevention Centers to offer medical care to stop preventable overdose deaths as well as other resources.

Prior to entering the Majority in 2019, Senator Rivera served as the ranking member of both the Senate Health Committee and the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee. During that time, Senator Rivera passed three laws to ban smoking around schools, after schools, and libraries.  His first law as a legislator allowed charitable organizations throughout the state to post bail bonds for individuals who cannot afford to do so themselves to ensure New Yorkers were not criminalized prior to being convicted for being poor. 

Since becoming legislator, Senator Rivera has championed and empowered Latino communities across New York State and the United States. He is a member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) where he is member of the Board of Directors. He is also a member of National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and the UNITE Parliamentarians Network for Global Health, a global network of current and former members of parliament from multinational, national, state, and regional Parliaments, Congresses, and Senates, committed towards the promotion of efficient and sustainable policies for improved global health systems. 

For over a decade, Senator Rivera has also served as a mentor for the annual Model State Senate program as part of the "Somos El Futuro" conference, sponsored by CUNY, SUNY, the NY State Assembly, and the Puerto Rican Hispanic Task Force.

Prior to becoming an elected representative, Gustavo worked as a community organizer for several local and state candidates including State Senators Jose Marcos Serrano and Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ campaigns for State Senate, as well as Fernando Ferrer’s 2001 campaign for Mayor of New York City. 

In early 2008, SEIU hired Gustavo to manage their activities on behalf of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in several crucial primary states. Gustavo traveled to Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and his home of Puerto Rico on behalf of Senator Obama. Gustavo was then tapped by Senator Obama to serve as his Constituency Director in the crucial swing state of Florida. After the election, Gustavo returned home to New York State to serve as the Director of Outreach for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Additionally, Gustavo has also served as an adjunct professor at Pace University and Hunter College, where he has taught courses in political science.

Gustavo was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. In 1998, Gustavo graduated from the University of Puerto Rico and moved to New York to begin a doctoral program in political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. A proud Bronxite, he lived in Kingsbridge Heights for over 20 years, and now resides in Bedford Park.