First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990, Congresswoman Maxine Moore Waters (1938– ), born in St. Louis, Missouri, serves as a Democrat representing California's 43rd congressional district (reelected to a fifteenth term in 2018). She gained a reputation for being one of the most powerful women in the Congress and for being a "fearless and outspoken advocate for women, children, people of color and the poor." She was the first woman and first African-American chair of the House Committee on Financial Services. In 2020, she was a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, a past chairperson and current member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Before her election to national office, she served fourteen years in the California State Assembly. She is a co-founder of a Los Angeles-area nonprofit organization—Black Women's Forum—which has a membership of 1,200 African-American women.
Born the fifth of thirteen children, Maxine helped support her family when, at age thirteen, she began working in factories and segregated restaurants. She earned her bachelor's degree from California State University at Los Angeles and began her public service as a teacher and volunteer coordinator for the Head Start program.
Maxine has received honorary doctorates from Spelman College and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.