Angela McKnight was elected in 2016 to “legislate, educate and empower.” The first African American Assemblywoman for her hometown, the 31st district in Jersey City, New Jersey, she actually never set out for a career in politics.
Angela founded the nonprofit AngelaCARES, Inc. to support senior citizens and their caregivers. The organization also mentors kids by teaching them how to volunteer, all of which strengthens communities and improves the quality of life for the youngest and the oldest among us. She’s the owner of Care About You, a consultant service for the elderly and, as a Carepreneur, she speaks, consults and trains others on these subjects that so deeply have her heart.
Before advocacy work became her calling, Angela spent 25 years in customer service technologies, showing her firsthand how to turn good intentions into concrete plans. Married to her high school sweetheart, she’s a mother and a grandmother, too.
Day in and day out, this activist-advocate-author-educator’s actions reflect her deep-seated passion to help others and her community. Read her Bare Necessities interview to get inspired to bring your true self to every last thing that you do.
Q: You started out in business and tech; how did you get involved in politics?
A: While working in the business setting, I became an entrepreneur and started Care About You, LLC. Then I left the corporate world and started my nonprofit, AngelaCARES, Inc. While out there serving my community, the Mayor of Jersey City and the Hudson County Democratic Organization asked me to run, and now I’m the Assemblywoman for 31st Legislative District.
Q: What’s your mission in life?
A: My mission is to be a legacy-maker, which is to say helping and inspiring as many people as I can, ultimately leaving an impact on their lives.
Q: What are your priorities for your time in office?
A: Since being elected, I have worked on legislation that touches many things, such as seniors, education, transportation, the environment, housing, economic development, entrepreneurship and human services. My constituents are key in helping me set legislation goals. As an Assembly member, I have a two-year term, and I’m currently in my second term. This coming November, I will be on the ballot running for a third term.
“My mission is to be a legacy-maker”
Q: What drives you?
A: I genuinely care about others. My passion to help, inspire, uplift and empower people is what drives me. By helping someone, I get to assist them in furthering their life.
Q: When so many people and groups need your can-do spirit, how do you find time without burning out?
A: Starting this past January, I made a commitment to care for myself first. I have been going to the gym four or five days a week during the early morning hours. This is “me time,” time to get myself right. If I don’t take care of myself, it will be difficult for me to care for others. In addition, I keep a calendar with my appointments and events I want to go to. I enjoy being out in the community with people! I do my best not to make commitments without talking to my team. I do what I can.
Q: What challenges have you had to overcome, and how?
A: There will always be challenges in life. If people aren’t challenged, they will have a difficult time seeing what they can do during difficult times. Some things I do when faced with challenges are take time to reflect, pray, meditate and talk with my husband, friends and my team. I’ve also written out my feelings, as it has allowed me to relinquish them. I’m only human, so I know that mistakes will happen. When faced with a mistake, I own up to it, followed by not making the same mistake twice. I’ve had to apologize, which allows me to be accountable for my actions and lets the person know that I will work to make things better. I look at challenges and mistakes as growing pains. Without them, you can remain stagnant; with them, you grow.
Q: What’s a typical day like?
A: Early morning starts at the gym. Then I get ready and head off to my nonprofit to serve. That’s followed by community events such as ribbon cuttings, press conferences and community meetings. Afterwards, I go to my district office for constituent meetings, staff meetings and office work. During the evening, I’ll go to an event and/or a community meeting. Then I go home for the night to work on my businesses and have some family time.
“Learn how to say no. You don’t have to be everything to everyone”
Q: Can women really have it all? What advice do you wish you could give women coming up?
A: Yes, women can have it all. I’m saying that if women put their mind to it, they can accomplish their goals. My advice is to follow your passion, be your own cheerleader, celebrate yourself no matter how big or small the goal you just accomplished, continue to invest in yourself, don’t let fear hold you back, ask for help and learn how to say no to people. You don’t have to be everything to everyone.
Q: Are you finding politics the best way to bring about change? What are ways we can all get involved?
A: Yes, politics is a great way to bring about change. I write legislation that become laws, which in return helps people and the environment. You can get involved by voting, engaging with your elected officials from the local to the federal level, going to community meetings and sharing information that you have learned with others. Always remember that you can be the change that you want to see. It starts with you. Don’t just complain about an issue; take a step to help negate the issue.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I am going to continue to be the best person that I can be. My Lord orders my steps and as he reveals them to me, I will move in His direction.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ANGELA
Favorite loungewear: ED Ellen DeGeneres Smile Knit Pajama Set.
Most useful emoji: The smiley face!
Personal mantra: I am who I am.
Role model: Michelle Obama.
Biggest compliment: “Thank you for always being here for the people.”
Weakness for: Pizza.
Happy place: My bed.
Favorite book: My Bible.
Perfect day must contain: A nap.
In a word: Thankful.
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