About Gustavo Rivera

Chairman of Committee on Health

Democrat, Working Families Democrat, Working Families

District 33

State Senator Gustavo Rivera has represented the 33rd Senate District in the Bronx since November of 2010. The 33rd Senate District includes the neighborhoods of Kingsbridge Heights, East Tremont, Crotona Park, Fordham, Mount Hope, Belmont, Van Nest, Claremont, and Morris Park. 

Since taking office, Senator Rivera has focused his efforts on addressing issues of health inequity both legislatively and on the ground. In 2011, Senator Rivera launched the Bronx CAN (Changing Attitudes Now) Health Initiative. The goal of this community oriented health initiative is not only to encourage Bronx residents to develop healthy behaviors, but to shape policies that will help tear down some of the institutional barriers that stand in the way of Bronxites having a healthier lifestyle.  

In 2018, his passion to improve the health of New Yorkers lead Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to appoint Senator Rivera as the Chair of the New York State Senate’s Health Committee. As the Chair, Senator Rivera’s goal is to collaborate with his colleagues, stakeholders, and constituents to improve health outcomes, increase access to coverage, and ensure a financially viable system for the 20 million New Yorkers he proudly serves.

Prior to his appointment to Chair, Senator Rivera served as the ranking member of the Senate Health Committee for six years. As a sitting member of the committee, Senator Rivera passed three laws to ban smoking around schools, afterschools, and libraries, and has been a champion of public health and harm reduction policies. In March 2017, he became the main sponsor of the “New York Health Act,” an innovative bill to create a single payer health system in New York State.

Previously, Senator Rivera served as the ranking member of the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee. During that time, he introduced and passed legislation to allow charitable organizations throughout the state to post bail bonds for individuals who cannot afford to do so themselves and was able to secure the transfer of the Fulton Correctional Facility to the Osborne Association to be converted into a comprehensive reentry center during the 2013-2014 State Budget.

Senator Rivera has also championed and empowered Latino communities across New York State and the United States. In 2018, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) elected Senator Rivera to serve an initial three-year term on the nonpartisan organization's 35-member Board of Directors. NALEO’S mission looks to foster civic engagement in Latino communities, increase the effectiveness of Latino policymakers, and promote policies that advance Latino political engagement. For over a decade, Senator Rivera has also served as a mentor for the annual Model State Senate program, "Somos El Futuro", 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 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, Virginia, 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 has lived in Kingsbridge Heights for almost 20 years.