Governor David Alexander Paterson is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. As a newborn, he contracted a serious ear infection that spread to his optic nerve, which left him with no sight in his left eye and limited vision in his right. Growing up Patterson was left to overcome implicit bias and structural racialization, regarding his race and disability. He faced adversity and never let it deter him from his life goals.
Patterson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Columbia University and then completed his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree at Hofstra Law School. In 2002, Paterson was elected as the first African American New York State Senate Minority leader. In 2006, he was elected as the first African American lieutenant governor of New York. He then went on to be elected, in 2008, as the first African American to serve as Governor of New York and the second legally blind governor of a U.S. state. As the Governor of New York, Paterson reduced New York’s budget deficit by $40 billion and increased the welfare allowance for underprivileged individuals for the first time in 20 years. He also fought for same sex marriage and against disability discrimination. Governor Patterson was also a keynote speaker at events held by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
After leaving office, Patterson has thrived as a talk show host, taught government as an adjunct professor at New York University, and served as a board member for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Paterson is also the Chair of the NY State Democratic Party, Director of Investments with the Moldaver Paterson Lee Group at Stifel Investment Bank, and Senior Vice President & Special Advisor to the President of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. In his free time, he is an avid runner (Board Co-Chair for Achilles International ) and the author of the recently published book in September of 2020 titled, Black, Blind, & In Charge: A Story of Visionary Leadership and Overcoming Adversity. Governor Patterson presently continues to be a husband and dad of two.
Our Different and Able president and founder, Alexandra Nicklas, recently interviewed Governor Patterson about his inspirational life and his career accomplishments. Patterson, has an unwavering affable and sincere discussion with Alexandra on topics, such as accessibility, education that was not instructionally differentiated, his protest against Amazon, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and appalling statistics of unemployment and the sub-minimum wage gap that affects people with disabilities. Governor Patterson has been quoted saying, “We don't know the path yet. But that's because we haven't blazed the trail. And I think you all know that I know a little bit about finding one's way through the dark.” Patterson surely knows his path, and inspiritingly gives us the light we have been craving.