For the past few years Ariana Collado has served as chief of staff to Councilman Andrew Cohen, but as he is now a judge, Collado’s life has changed as well.
On Jan. 4, Bronx Democratic County Committee Chairman, Jamaal Bailey tabbed Collado the organization’s new executive director.
“Ariana’s dedication to the betterment of the Bronx has been demonstrated through her work in the city council and extensive involvement in her own Bronx neighborhood,” Bailey said. “She is a dynamic, hard-working and tenacious woman who is committed to moving the Bronx forward and stronger every single day.”
Collado told the Bronx Times she was caught off guard by the appointment, but has already hit the ground running, playing a key role in the formation of the advisory board process to vet candidates for office.
Since moving to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic at the age of 2, she has lived in various neighborhoods throughout the borough including Mott Haven, Westchester Square and today resides in Eastchester.
Collado, 31, was raised by Jilda and Jose Pena, a stay at home mom and a bodega owner. She recalled that growing up she had aspirations of being a doctor, but after meeting with her advisor in high school, Collado discovered she had to be good at biology and her best subjects were history and English.
“I think that’s when I had the realization that being a doctor wasn’t for me,” she said.
Collado spent years organizing volunteers, fundraisers and marches to support ALS research, mentored high school students through the iMentor program and volunteered on multiple democratic campaigns. She is the first person in her family to go to college and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Lehman College
She eventually got her first job in politics as scheduler for Cohen. Soon she became director of operations and his chief of staff.
Collado stressed how grateful she is to the councilman and how much of an impact he had on her.
“The 11th Council District is a very diverse district,” Collado explained. “There are sometimes people who need help that don’t know they need help.”
According to Collado, they were not receiving many complaints from constituents in Bedford Park and Kingsbridge, so they went and did outreach there.
She noted that many people in the Bronx do not know who their elected officials and how much they can help them.
2021 not only brings a new position for her, but Collado is also pursuing a Juris Doctorate at the City University of New York School of Law. She knows there is a lot on her plate, but is hungry.
While her father passed away a year and a half ago, both parents always encouraged her to go to school.
“They said the only way you can get ahead was an education,” she stated.
Her desire to become a lawyer occurred when her aunt was trying to get immigration papers and was scammed out of thousands of dollars.
She plans focus on civil rights and constitutional violations
“As I got older and realized that family members of mine didn’t know what their rights were, I realized I wanted to give back to my community,” she commented.
Looking ahead to her new role as executive director, Collado is eager to grab the reigns and get started.
“I am honored and excited to serve as the new executive director for the Bronx Dems and I am eager to work with Chairman Bailey who is smart, passionate and a proven leader in the Bronx,” Collado said. “In this new capacity, my priority will be to make sure that the Bronx has dedicated and committed individuals representing the needs of our borough,” she said. “I also want to ensure that the Bronx Dems are known for being inclusive. Now more than ever it is important that we all work together. The past presidential administration left many individuals with a desire to engage in the democratic process and we need to create opportunities for those who want to participate.”