Kathy Hochul Biography

Kathy Hochul, the 57th governor of New York, has been in office since August 24, 2021. She is not only the first female governor of New York but also the first governor from Upstate New York since 1920. Prior to becoming governor, Hochul served as lieutenant governor of New York from 2015-2021. She has a diverse political background, having been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the 8th Clerk of Erie County. Hochul is known for her willingness to work beyond party lines and fight for the underdog, as evidenced by her diverse campaign donor list.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Kathleen Courtney
  • Age: 65 Years, 65 Year Old Females
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: William J. Hochul Jr. (m. 1984)
    • Father: John P. Courtney
    • Mother: Patricia Ann (Rochford) Courtney
    • Children: Caitlin Hochul, William Hochul
  • Born Country: United States
  • Notable Alumni: Catholic University Of America
  • U.S. State: New Yorkers
  • Education: Syracuse University, The Catholic University Of America

Childhood & Early Life

Kathy Hochul was born as Kathleen Courtney on August 27, 1958 in Buffalo, New York, United States, as the second of six children of John P. “Jack” Courtney and Patricia Ann “Pat” (Rochford) Courtney. Her father, then a college student, did clerical work at a steel plant at night but later became president of an information technology company, while her mother, a homemaker, later ran her own business. Despite their financial struggles, her Irish Catholic descent family collected food, clothing and furniture for families that were struggling in the region, and also brought into their home developmentally disabled children without relatives to visit.

Kathy Hochul grew up with sister Sheila Heinze and four brothers: Dennis, Michael, David and Paul, and had to work at a restaurant, studying late at nights even after getting into bed. She became interested in politics in high school after a teacher took her class to Buffalo City Hall for a tour and subsequently began doing volunteer work for politicians during summer vacations. Entering Syracuse University in 1976, she became an activist and led a boycott of the student bookstore over high prices, besides making an unsuccessful effort to name the university stadium after late alumnus Ernie Davis. She successfully lobbied the university to divest from apartheid South Africa and was awarded “A” grade by the student newspaper The Daily Orange for her activities changing the campus. She graduated with a major in political science from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University (1980) and completed her Juris Doctor from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. (1984).


After obtaining her law degree, Kathy Hochul landed a job in a high-powered law firm in Washington, but because the work experience was unsatisfying for her, she decided to work on Capitol Hill. She began as a legal counsel and legislative assistant to U.S. Representative John LaFalce, then worked for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who had a profound impact on her, and for the New York State Assembly. She was involved in local issues as a supporter of small businesses facing competition from Walmart stores, which caught the attention of local Democratic leaders. When Patrick H. Hoak’s resigned from the Hamburg Town Board to become town supervisor, she was voted to fill the vacant seat on January 3, 1994. She was elected to full-term in November, before being reelected in 1998, 2002, and 2006, and during her tenure, worked to remove toll booths on parts of the New York State Thruway system.

Kathy Hochul, who was appointed deputy of Erie County Clerk David Swarts in May 2003, resigned from the board in April 2007 to succeed Swarts after he was named in the administration of Governor Eliot Spitzer. In November 2007, she was elected to fill the remainder of Swarts’s term and won reelection in November 2010 securing 80% of the vote and defeated Republican Clifton Bergfeld. She left the post in 2011, when she ran in the special election to fill the seat in New York’s 26th congressional district left vacant by Republican representative Chris Lee. She was the Democratic Party and Working Families Party nominee running against the strongly favored Republican and Conservative Party nominee, State Assembly member Jane Corwin, in the Republican-leaning district. Despite both sides “taking liberties with the facts” in their negative television advertisements, like Hochul being portrayed as a puppet of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she defeated Corwin 47% to 42%. During her tenure, Hochul co-sponsored bills to streamline passport acquisition process, advocated for reducing the federal budget deficit and supported reducing Medicaid spending, but not the way the Republican budget blueprint proposed.

She also spoke with then-President Barack Obama about the economy, job creation, restoring the Republican cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, ending tax breaks for oil companies and protecting small businesses. Before the 2012 election, her district was renumbered the 27th during the redistricting process and was redrawn in a manner that it became more heavily Republican. Despite receiving endorsement from the National Rifle Association, she lost the election to Republican candidate Chris Collins by 51% to 49%, and began working as a government relations executive for the Buffalo-based M&T Bank. After New York lieutenant governor Robert Duffy announced not seeking reelection in 2014, incumbent Governor Cuomo named Hochul to replace the former and she was formally endorsed by the state Democratic convention in May. The pair, who were also the Working Families Party nominees, won their Democratic primary elections in September and the general elections the following month and she was sworn in as lieutenant governor in January 2015. Hochul and Cuomo defeated the Republican ticket of Marc Molinaro and Julie Killian in the 2018 elections, but their four-year term ended prematurely after Cuomo resigned in August 2021 following multiple sexual misconduct accusations. Hochul then replaced Cuomo and was sworn in as governor on August 24 by New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore in a private ceremony, making her the state’s first female governor. In the 2022 elections, she won a full term in office defeating Republican nominee Lee Zeldin in the closest New York gubernatorial election since 1994 and the closest Democratic victory since 1982.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1984, Kathy Hochul married William J. Hochul Jr., the former US Attorney for the Western District of New York, whom she met while working in the New York State Assembly years ago. He is also the senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary to Delaware North, a hospitality and gambling company, and the two are parents to two children, Will and Katie. In 2006, Kathy Hochul helped her mother establish Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for women and children who are victims of domestic violence and has served on the organization’s board. She co-founded the Village Action Coalition and was a member of the board of trustees of Immaculata Academy in Hamburg, New York in 2011.

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