Posted by Natalie Nisco-Frank on June 15, 2016 in Blog
Known for his community and work experiences, voting transparency and willingness to put partisan politics aside, Richard Hanna has represented New York’s 22nd district in the House of Representatives since 2011. Of Lebanese descent, Hanna was born and raised in upstate New York. After his father’s sudden death when Hanna was just twenty years old, he became the primary supporter of his mother and four sisters, a responsibility that required Hanna to put his education on hold. After eight years of taking care of his family and paying off substantial debt, Hanna graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon with a degree in Economics and Political Science in 1976.
Following his graduation, Hanna moved back to New York and started Hanna Construction, an organization that eventually employed more than 450 workers and was committed to commercial and municipal projects in upstate New York. After 27 years with Hanna Construction, he ran as a Republican and in 2011, was elected to represent New York’s 24th district. He is currently serving his third consecutive term representing New York’s 22nd District. Recently, Hanna announced his plans to retire at the end of his term in order to spend more time with his wife Kim and their children, Emerson, 8, and Grace, 7.
During his time in office, Hanna has championed key conservative issues, including free market initiatives, spending cuts and lower taxes. He’s also stood up for women’s rights and same-sex marriage, which he feels are important to him and his New York constituents. “I feel one is morally obligated to speak out when other people aren’t,” Hanna explained in an interview, before he added, “I’m always looking for opportunities to support civil rights and speak out.” Hanna is one of two Republican members on the LGBT Equality Caucus and was one of ten House Republicans who signed a letter urging House Speaker Boehner and House Majority Leader Cantor to pass the Violence Against Women Act. Hanna also co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination in the workforce on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and came out as a strong defender of women’s rights at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment where he said: "I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault... Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf….”
In 2004, Hanna founded “Annie’s Fund”—an organization that has provided hundreds of grants to local women facing financial hardship—with The Women’s Fund of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc. and has personally contributed more than $80,000 to the charity. His level of engagement is also evidenced by his Facebook page where he provides a detailed explanation for his votes, just one of two House members to do so and his “open door” days, where his constituents are welcomed to walk into his office without an appointment.
On the 70th anniversary of Lebanon’s Independence Day, Hanna proclaimed his Lebanese heritage with pride and honored the contributions of the Lebanese people all around the world. He spoke with reverence of the early Lebanese immigrants in America who “quickly established strong communities built on the foundation of a strong work ethic, ingenuity, and cultural integration.” Hanna stated he is “honored that many of these Lebanese-American families have chosen to call New York—and especially Upstate—home. I embrace all of the positive contributions that they continue to make every day in our society.”
Photos courtesy of Rep. Richard Hanna's official Facebook page.
Read more stories about Arab immigrants and their descendants on the "Together We Came" main page.