About Rachel May

Chair of Committee on Cities 2, Chair of Legislative Commission on Rural Resources

Democrat, Working Families Democrat, Working Families

District 48

Senator Rachel May represents Central New York’s 48th District, including the City of Syracuse, parts of Onondaga County, and Cayuga County. She is the chair of the Cities 2 Committee and the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. She is a member of the committees on Aging, Agriculture, Elections, Environmental Conservation, Health, Housing, Construction & Community Development, Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction & Overdose Prevention, Legislative Women's Caucus, and State-Native American Relations. 

As a freshman legislator in the 2019 session, Senator May was instrumental in passing transformative legislation, including comprehensive election reforms, tenant-centered housing reforms, unprecedented criminal justice reform, and the nation’s most ambitious climate legislation. She has worked hard to bring the people of Central New York into the process of decision-making in Albany by holding a record number of legislative hearings in the region on issues including the Climate Leadership and Community Preservation Act, rural broadband, farm labor rights, health care for all, and Upstate nursing home issues during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, she has brought her Downstate colleagues to Central New York for roundtables on opioid addiction treatment and prevention, minority and women-owned businesses, and childcare and child welfare. She sponsored and passed into law a bill to create the first regional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) school for Central New York, which is currently under construction in the City of Syracuse. 

As former chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, she vigorously supported home care workforce initiatives, expanded funding for in-home care programs, the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, and nursing home accountability. She sponsored bills to create a Reimagining Long Term Care Task Force, authorize a family caregiver tax credit, and create a home care jobs innovation fund to support workforce growth.  

As chair of the Cities 2 Committee, Senator May focuses on New York State’s many vibrant cities outside of New York City. Though each has its own unique identity, most share a number of challenges, like concentrated poverty, limited tax bases, under-resourced schools, and food and transportation deserts. Many also share strengths, like their diverse New American populations, thriving arts and culture and historic attractions, and affordable, walkable neighborhoods. Senator May will hold hearings and roundtables on many of these issues and work with her colleagues to find ways to lift up urban communities across the state.

A resident of Syracuse, Senator May had a successful career in higher education prior to running for public office. She started out as a professor of Russian language and literature at Stony Brook University, where she was a proud member of UUP, before earning tenure at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She moved to Syracuse in 2001 and retrained in ecology and sustainability, becoming director of sustainability education at Syracuse University. Senator May earned a master’s degree from Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship and a Ph.D. in Russian language and literature from Stanford University. She also earned a master’s degree from SUNY-ESF. She has one daughter who recently graduated from Cornell University.  

Senator May is now serving in her third term.