Diana Ayala has worked for nearly two decades serving the people of the 8th District in social service agencies and government, and is a passionate advocate on issues including housing, gun violence, and senior services.
Diana was born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, and moved to New York City with her family as a child. Growing up in public housing after a time in the shelter system, she experienced numerous challenges that would help give her a unique voice and perspective in government and politics, and drive her passion for public service.
As a teenage mom-to-be, the father of Diana’s son was shot and killed in a senseless shooting, after which she returned to shelter. She later entered into a new relationship that proved abusive. In the face of these challenges, she found the personal strength to start her life over, enrolling in school and receiving her associate’s degree in Human Services from Bronx Community College.
She worked as a senior center director in East Harlem for seven years, and later joined the team for Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito as Constituent Services Director, ultimately becoming Deputy Chief of Staff.
In her capacity as Deputy Speaker, Diana has been instrumental in crafting legislation that has become law, such as:
- Banning the sale of guinea pigs citywide to encourage more adoptions for our furry friends.
- Reforming the CityFHEPs program by eliminating the 90-day rule, expanding eligibility to more New Yorkers in need, and removing red tape to expedite the process.
- Creating a syringe buy-back pilot program to reduce syringe litter within our communities.
- Requiring the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene to form a committee that would be tasked with creating a community based plan of action to address the opioid epidemic.
Diana has used her time in the City Council to uplift the voices of her constituents and address issues ranging from housing, homelessness, mental health, education, substance abuse prevention, and gun violence prevention.
Diana lives in East Harlem with her life partner, Frankie. She has four children and three grandchildren, and also lives with two rescued dogs and three cats.