Since the day she took office, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has been determined to put her stamp on cleaning up the county. In honor of our women’s issue, we chatted with Curran about what it’s like to be a woman in politics and how her biggest inspirations have shaped who she is.
You are the first woman to hold this office. What has that been like?
It’s been a very busy, challenging and rewarding 21 months—I love what I do. Since I took office, we have been remaking county government with a laser focus on ethics and transparency in government, fiscal integrity and economic growth. From updating technology infrastructure to fixing our crumbling county roads, I have been committed driving fundamental initiatives forward that were neglected for far too long.
Where is Nassau County at now?
Nassau County is at a turning point and we are reinventing suburbia. We are working harder than ever to make our county attractive to new residents, businesses and workers. We must meet the challenges of retaining our young people rapidly fleeing Long Island, and secure the next generation to “live, work and play” in Nassau.
We are moving forward on new, attractive destinations for young people like the development of the Hub, which will turn the sea of pavement surrounding the Coliseum into a residential, recreational and innovative district. We’re promoting investment that creates high-wage jobs in industries like biomedical and information technology. I am incredibly pleased that after 20 years of stagnation and delay, we stand poised to finally fulfill that promise.
It’s 2019 and the career landscape when it comes to working women has vastly changed. What is your opinion on how far women have come?
During my campaign, I made it a goal for 50 percent of my senior staff to include women and I’ve exceeded that—without even trying. There are so many brilliant, educated and eminently qualified women on Long Island.
If young women see female leaders in politics, business and education, that creates a positive environment by itself —having women leaders be the norm will keep the momentum going and inspire future generations.
We’re on the right path, but there is still more to be done to create an equal playing field and breakdown barriers that stand in the way of opportunity.
What advice do you have for young girls who dream of getting into politics?
Get out of your comfort zone and embrace the uncomfortable. If there is a particular issue that is motivating you or exciting you or inspiring you to get involved, learn everything you can about it so you can speak articulately on it.
Who are you inspired by and why?
My mother. She went back to college after she had children. I remember her typing papers at the dining room table late into the night. Then at the age of 50, she started a whole new career and became quite successful running a big nonprofit. She taught me to go for it, she taught me adaptability and perseverance—to make things work, no matter what kind of situation I am in.