Women's Entrepreneurship Week 2018: Elizabeth de León Bhargava, Esq.





Elizabeth de León Bhargava, Esq.
Deputy Secretary, Labor and Workforce, State of New York


Elizabeth de León Bhargava is the Deputy Secretary for Labor and Workforce for the Office of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. She was appointed in March 2015 and is the first Latina to hold this position. Ms. de León Bhargava oversees seven State agencies and appeal boards, including the Department of Labor, Department of Civil Service, Workers’ Compensation Board, Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, Public Employment Relations Board, Industrial Board of Appeals, and the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board. She was integral in securing New York’s recent increase to the minimum hourly wage to $15 and establishing the nation’s most robust Paid Family Leave program.


Previously, Ms. de León Bhargava served as First Deputy Chief of Staff for the Speaker of the New York City Council. She advised the Speaker on critical issues, budget negotiations, and Council priorities. She directed and managed activities of the Council with a staff of more than 300 and a budget in excess of $55 million. Ms. de León Bhargava spearheaded numerous policy initiatives including Unaccompanied Minors and Municipal ID, as well as leveraged private-sector partnerships to benefit underserved communities.


Ms. de León Bhargava also served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Neighborhood Development Division at the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS). She was responsible for oversight of the City’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and, among other accomplishments, successfully managed the Neighborhood Leadership Program.


Before joining SBS, Ms. de León Bhargava was appointed Associate Commissioner for the New York State Department of Labor by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in January 2011. She worked to make the agency one of the most customer-focused and results-driven agencies in state government, and was responsible for the reorganization of a $9.2 billion agency with some 4,000 employees.


Prior to this appointment, Ms. de León Bhargava was an Assistant Deputy Counselor in the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Office of the Attorney General. She conducted investigations and prosecutions concerning civil rights and consumer fraud matters and spearheaded initiatives concerning protections for survivors of human trafficking and the preservation of affordable housing.


In 2003, she graduated from the University at Buffalo School of Law. While in law school, Ms. de León Bhargava served as a legislative intern to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton; a judicial intern for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District.


After law school, Ms. de León Bhargava was awarded a Coro Public Policy Fellowship. During her fellowship, she worked with the New York City Planning Department on property rights, Citibank Community Relations Department; served as the Latino outreach coordinator for John Edwards’ presidential campaign; and assisted the Harlem YMCA and Citibank in conducting private and public partnership conferences in South Africa and Zimbabwe.


Raised in the Washington Heights, NY, Ms. de León Bhargava received a BA in Literature and Rhetoric from Binghamton University in 1995. 



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