About Vanessa

Public Service over Politics


Committed East Side community member. Public school teacher with a passion for moving girls into science and math careers. U.S. diplomat with a commitment to protecting immigrant New Yorkers. Vanessa Aronson is running for New York City Council to stand up for New York – and the East Side. 

Vanessa Aronson has dedicated her life to public service. 


Vanessa knew at an early age that she would dedicate her career to helping others. But she also knew she would need skills and training to make an outstanding public servant.  This impulse brought her to the University of Chicago, where she studied political science, and the Harvard Kennedy School, where she got her masters degree in public policy. 

From Harvard, Vanessa entered the U.S. Foreign Service. She proudly represented the United States abroad, working to serve vulnerable populations, mostly in southeast Asia. As a diplomat, Vanessa fought food insecurity, helped victims of sexual assault, and reunited families by helping them navigate the complexities of the immigration process.  

Vanessa also honed her negotiating skills during her time as a diplomat. Representing the U.S. at the UN World Food Program, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Vanessa helped negotiate multi-million dollar food security agreements which have helped nearly 800 million people. 

During her time abroad, she always thought of home – and New York. 

And so she returned to New York to teach in public schools with her first teaching job at Maria Teresa Mirabal Middle School (MS319) in Washington Heights. 

At MS319, Vanessa taught math and science to 6th graders. She led the speech and debate team in this bilingual school, and concentrated on encouraging students – girls in particular – to pursue careers in math and science. 

However, there were larger issues she noticed in the lives of her students. (Click here to watch a video of Vanessa talking about her student “Virginia”.) What became clear is that the biggest challenges facing her students were not tests or homework. They were deep-rooted problems caused by economic insecurity. Problems that can only be addressed through concerted effort and smart, holistic policymaking.    

These are the realizations that inspired Vanessa to run for City Council. 

And this will be her goal as a City Council Member: to help people.
To make the East Side – and New York – a place where middle class families can live. 

The East Side of Manhattan has a wonderful tradition of Council service leadership, most recently personified by Council Member Dan Garodnick. Vanessa is mindful of this tradition, and keen to continue Dan’s good work.  



Vanessa lives with her college-sweetheart-turned-husband Reid and their chihuahua Gilda, who was rescued from the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.