Joe Neguse: The First Eritrean-American to Win a Seat Congress
Joe Neguse is an American of Eritrean origin; the son of Eritrean immigrants who made history last year when he became the first American of Eritrean origin to win a seat in the US Congress.
A member of the governing body of the University of Colorado, Neguse got involved in politics as a student, founding an organisation to get young people involved in politics called the New Era Colorado.
In his position as regent of the University of Colorado and as the second African-American to hold the post, he campaigned for affordable education and health care for students.
In 2014, he ran for the Secretary of State in Colorado but lost out to Wayne Williams. In 2015, he was chosen to lead the state’s consumer protection agency at just 31 years old.
Neguse resigned from the position to run for Colorado’s 2nd congressional district, which he won on November 6 to become the first African-American representative from Colorado.
Joe Neguse Joe was elected in 2018 to represent the 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first and only African-American elected to serve in Congress in Colorado history. He serves as a Vice-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was elected by his peers to be the Freshman Co-Representative to Leadership. In that capacity, he serves as a member of the House Democratic Leadership.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Joe served as an attorney, civic leader, and public official who spent his career fighting to expand opportunities for families across our state. Joe and his wife Andrea (who grew up in Broomfield) consider themselves incredibly lucky to call the beautiful City of Lafayette home, where they are raising their infant daughter Natalie and enjoy running on Boulder County’s amazing trails with their puppy Teddy (a pug-Aussie mix). Joe has lived in the 2nd Congressional District for the last 17 years, and was honored to represent the people of the 2nd district as an elected member of CU’s Board of Regents from 2009 through 2015.
Over 35 years ago, Joe’s parents fled Eritrea, a war-torn country in East-Africa, and immigrated to the United States as refugees, eventually settling in Colorado, where he and his sister were raised. As hardworking immigrants and naturalized citizens, Joe’s parents never forgot nor took for granted the freedom and opportunities the United States gave them and their children. Their experience motivated Joe to be an active participant in our democracy at an early age, and to give back through public service.
While still in law school at CU, Joe was elected in 2008 by the voters of the 2nd Congressional District to serve on the CU Board of Regents. Thus, he became the only the second African-American to be elected Regent in Colorado’s history. Joe served a six-year term on the Board (which oversees the CU-System, the fourth largest employer in the state with an operating budget of $3.4 billion), including two-years as Chair of the Audit Committee. As a Regent, Joe fought to make higher education more affordable and accessible and to build consensus on tough issues, sponsoring several resolutions that received bi-partisan and unanimous support, including efforts to lower student health insurance costs and make voter registration more accessible to students, as well as working to increase wages for the University’s lowest-paid workers.
Joe’s public service is rooted in his firm belief that we should be expanding—not restricting—opportunities for all Coloradans, and he has spent his career doing the same. The opportunity to immigrate to our incredible country and pursue the American dream; to attend college, and participate in our economy; and ultimately, to shape our democracy. Joe’s belief that all Coloradans are entitled to these opportunities, shaped by his parent’s journey and experience, has been a guiding principle in his life, and he is honored to fight for these opportunities each and every day in the United States Congress.