Andrea Jenkins (1961- ) became the first Black, transgender woman elected to public office in the U.S. (she represents South Minneapolis). Her career in public service and activism spans 25 years.

Jenkins was born in 1967 and raised by a single mother in a low-income section of North Lawndale, Chicago. While still presenting as male, Jenkins married, became a parent, and divorced. At thirty, she began to present as female, returned to finish her undergraduate degree from Metropolitan State University, followed by two master’s degrees in creative writing and community economic development. While completing her education, Jenkins worked as a counselor for the Hennepin County government. In 2018, Jenkins completed Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government as a David Bohnett LGBTQ Victory Institute Leadership Fellow.

Jenkins worked for a decade as a vocational counselor with Hennepin County. In 2001, Robert Lilligren, who was running for a seat on the Minneapolis City Council, asked Jenkins to be a part of his campaign.  After his election, Jenkins joined Lilligren's staff where she worked as an aide for four years.

In 2005, Elizabeth Glidden was elected to the City Council and hired Jenkins as an aide, in part for Jenkins's extensive network that she had built up during her time in Lilligren's office. While on Glidden's staff, Jenkins earned a fellowship dedicated to transgender issues and helped to establish the Transgender Issues Work Group in 2014. That year, she organized a city council summit on transgender equity intended to highlight the issues trans people in Minnesota. In December of 2016, Jenkins announced she would run for a seat on the city council representing Minneapolis’s 8th Ward. She won her race with more than 70% of the vote.


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