About Rachel

In her four years at a NY State Senator from Central New York, Rachel May has established a reputation as a thoughtful, hard-working, and courageous public servant and a champion for justice, accountability, democracy, quality of life, and environmental protection. She has been honored to receive recognition for her legislative work, including:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Statewide Senior Action
  • Environmental Legislator of the Year,  Environmental Advocates Action, 2020
  • Appointed to US EPA Local Government Advisory Council, 2021
  • Leader of the Year, Rural Schools Association, 2022
  • Rural Health Champion Award, NYS Association for Rural Health, 2020
  • Senator Hugh Farley Outstanding Advocate for Libraries Award, NY Library Association, 2020


With her election in 2018, Rachel was instrumental in giving Democrats their first working majority in many decades, which enabled them to pass significant legislation to:

  • enhance voting rights
  • increase funding for public schools
  • protect abortion rights and LGBTQ rights and fight racial injustice
  • and stand up for unions and working New Yorkers


Rachel serves as Chair of the Committee on Aging, and has worked to improve the long-term care system, raise wages for home care workers, address elder abuse, and advocate for nursing home residents and their families. As Chair of the Commission on Rural Resources, she helped secure a major expansion of rural broadband access and more resources for substance abuse treatment and prevention. She also serves on the committees on agriculture, banks, environmental conservation, elections, and upstate cities.

Rachel came to the Senate from a career in environmental sustainability and has been instrumental in many of the environmental successes in the state in recent years, notably the nation-leading climate law passed in 2019. She now carries legislation to protect public waters from pollution and privatization, a major expansion of the Bottle Bill and of important legislation to make producers, not taxpayers, responsible for managing packaging waste.

Rachel makes her home in Syracuse. She has a Master’s degree from SUNY-ESF in environmental science and served on numerous local boards and volunteer organizations. She worked for 15 years at Syracuse University and, before that, was a professor of Russian Language and Literature at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN and at Stony Brook University. She is the proud mother of one daughter, who graduated from Nottingham High School (go, Bulldogs!) and Cornell University, and is pursuing a career in farming.