The Hon. Una S.T. Clarke’s Biography ,
Former NYC Councilmember,
40th District, Brooklyn, New York
Current: In June 2015, New York City’s Major Bill deBlasio appointed Mrs Clarke to the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY).
Read the Caribbean Life News article.
The Hon. Una S.T. Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman elected to the New York City’s legislature, is a proven and dedicated leader whose hard work and tireless advocacy have brought remarkable changes to her community.
Born in the parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, West Indies, Dr. Clarke migrated to the United States as a foreign student in 1958.
She was elected in 1991 and during her 10 years tenure she sponsored more than 300 pieces of legislation on a wide range of issues including child welfare, education, health and mental health issues, economic development, public safety and transportation.
Her portfolio in the Council included committees on Aging, Youth Services, Economic Development, Health and Mental Health, and General Welfare. She also chaired the Council’s committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. She was an active member of the Council’s Black and Hispanic Caucus.
Dr. Clarke directed millions of dollars for education, health and mental health, economic development to her district, and pursued the implementation of critical projects and programs through her ability to win help and support from labor, government, community and business leaders. An educator by profession, she has leveraged millions of dollars to upgrade schools in her district, and have made them technologically ready for the 21st century with computer labs in every school and a model program for multi-media instruction. Dr. Clarke also fought to expand services for the elderly, rebuild parks and playgrounds and increase quality childcare programs.
Sensitive to the needs of immigrants, Dr. Clarke has led campaigns for citizenship and voter registration to enable her constituents to receive greater rights and benefits. In response to flaws in the immigration law, Dr. Clarke led delegations to Washington, D.C., to educate Congress for changes that would make the law more just for all immigrants. In addition, Dr. Clarke is a tireless advocate and supporter of U.S. foreign policy towards the Caribbean, especially on issues of trade.
In 1992, Dr. Clarke served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and was later appointed as a delegate to the Electoral College, where she cast her vote to elect President Clinton. In 1996, she was one of six New Yorkers appointed to the National Platform Committee of the Democratic Party.
She received high accolades from the Democratic Party for her savvy and commitment to issues that are important to her Brooklyn constituents. Dr. Clarke was appointed in 2001 by Governor George Pataki as Director of the Empire State Development Corporation for the borough of Brooklyn.
Dr. Clarke holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Long Island University and a Masters of Education degree from New York University, with additional post-graduate studies at Teachers College and the School of Business at Columbia University. In 1984, she was the first foreign-born recipient of Columbia’s prestigious Charles H. Revson Fellowship. She has been honored with numerous awards from both community and professional organizations. In 1999 she received the second highest honor that a civilian can receive from the Government of Jamaica. She was awarded the Commander of the Order of Distinction (C.D.), for distinguished service for Jamaicans and Caribbean nationals in North America.
Dr. Clarke is the first Caribbean-born woman to receive the prestigious 2001 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In November 2005, she received the honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Technology in Jamaica (DLtt).
Dr. Clarke was appointed in 2001 by Governor George Pataki as Director of the Empire State Development Corporation for the borough of Brooklyn.
Dr. Clarke is married to Leslie Clarke Sr. They are parents of New York Rep. Yvette D. Clarke and television producer Leslie Clarke Jr., and have three grandsons.