Barbara Lee, a Black woman with short curly hair and wearing a peach suit, speaking at a lectern in front of a blue scrim bearing the Mills name in white

Alums running for Congress

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On February 28, Congresswoman Barbara Tutt Lee ’73 put the rumors to rest by announcing her candidacy for the California US Senate seat to be vacated by Senator Dianne Feinstein at the end of her term in early 2025. After releasing a video online, Lee held her first campaign rally at Laney College on February 25, with Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and Assemblymember Mia Bonta in attendance. 

Earlier this year, as Lee’s name was floated as a possibility for Feinstein’s Senate seat, she spoke with Jezebel to say that any announcement would be made with due respect to Feinstein, and that she hopes to repeal the Hyde Amendment while still a member of the House of Representatives. She has long credited her time at Mills with nurturing her political aspirations; she encountered Representative Shirley Chisholm on campus during Chisholm’s 1972 presidential campaign and later worked on Chisolm’s primary campaign. 

A week later, Lateefah Simon ’17 announced that she would run to replace Lee in California’s 12th Congressional District. She earned her Mills degree in public policy, received a MacArthur Genius Grant at the age of 26—before she enrolled at Mills—and worked for now-Vice President Kamala Harris when Harris was the San Francisco district attorney. 

She currently serves as the director for District 7 on the BART board of directors. Simon, who is legally blind, has long advocated for public transit in her 25-year career in community organizing.