Called the "Conscience of the Senate" for her relentless commitment to Minnesota's workers, families, and communities, Patricia Torres Ray is now ready to bring that commitment and her 30 years of public service experience to Washington.
Patricia Torres Ray made history in 2006 by becoming the first Latina elected to the Minnesota Senate. She is now serving her fourth term, representing Minnesota's Senate District 63, which includes Southeast Minneapolis and portions of Richfield.
Patricia was born in Colombia, the second of eight children and a large, close-knit extended family. She studied law at the University of Nariño and moved to Minnesota from Colombia in 1987 after marrying her husband Jack, a University of Minnesota student who had traveled abroad to Colombia for an internship. When she arrived, she didn't speak any English, but was eager to advance her education. She worked in a bottle factory to put herself through school and earned her undergraduate degree in Urban Studies from the University of Minnesota and then her Masters Degree in Public Affairs from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute. Patricia and Jack live in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis and have two boys, Tomas (24) and Patrick (22).
In 1992, Patricia began her career with the State of Minnesota as the Ombudsperson for Families, a position she helped to create as a result of her community organizing work with immigrant families around foster care placements. She was later recruited by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to serve as a Program Administrator, responsible for coordinating services and support to 87 counties and 11 tribal reservations related to child welfare, mental health, family support and early childhood services. In the course of her work there, Patricia spearheaded a multi-agency partnership to conduct research on disparities in child welfare and secured $1.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to support that work.
More than a decade later, Patricia made the decision to run for the state Senate to address the need for funding, programs, and policies to support Minnesota's working families. Since her historic election in 2006, Patricia has authored over 250 pieces of legislation and worked tirelessly building relationships in the community, with her colleagues, and with partners locally, nationally, and globally to create opportunities for Minnesota's families, to close racial and socioeconomic disparities, and to protect and advance the rights of all underserved and underrepresented communities.
Patricia currently serves as the Lead Democrat on the Senate's Local Government Committee and also serves on the E-12 Finance and the Environmental and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committees. She has previously served as Chair of the Education Policy Committee, Chair of State and Local Government Policy Committee, Chair of the New Americans Task Force, and Chair of Parks and Trails in the Environment Division.
Patricia has been called "the conscience of the Senate" for her relentless commitment to putting the interests and needs of Minnesota's workers, families, and communities first and pushing her colleagues in the legislature to do the same. And, now, Patricia is ready to work hard and fight for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District and for all Minnesotans in Washington.