Matilda Raffa Cuomo, the former First Lady of New York State and a lifelong advocate for women, children and families, was one of 10 American women who were inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in September 2017.
This prestigious honor recognizes Mrs. Cuomo’s leadership role in New York State, across the United States, and through international initiatives that have heightened visibility to such causes as mentoring, children’s rights, and volunteerism.
At the request of her husband, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo, Mrs. Cuomo in 1987 established the New York State Mentoring Program, the first statewide school-based, one-to-one mentoring project in the United States. As a way of advancing the goals of the New York State program, she founded the non-profit organization Mentoring USA in 1995.
The impact of Mrs. Cuomo’s mentoring work has been significant not only on a national level, but on the international stage as well. Her vision of a nationwide Mentoring USA program was expanded to include affiliate programs in Italy and Spain in Europe, as well as in Morocco in Africa – with plans to increase its presence in other areas of the Mediterranean region.
Mrs. Cuomo, who is a teacher by profession, said the presence of a caring adult in a young person’s life enhances self-esteem, strengthens relationships with peers and adults, and improves academic performance.
The National Women’s Hall of Fame, which is located in Seneca Falls, NY, is dedicated to honoring and celebrating the achievements of distinguished American women in all fields of endeavor. The Hall of Fame uses the stories of its honorees as tools for inspiration, innovation, and imagination.