In 2018, Ayanna Pressley made Massachusetts political history when she scored a stunning upset against 10-term incumbent Representative Michael Capuano and became the first African-American woman to represent the state in Congress.
She quickly cemented a name for herself as one-fourth of a high-profile group of progressive freshmen congresswomen dubbed “The Squad.”
Ayanna would be the first to credit her husband with giving her the strength to continue working in politics and perspective on many issues that are important to them both. So, who is the man behind this most impressive woman, and what’s the couple’s story? Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about Ayanna Pressley’s husband, Conan Harris.
Who is Ayanna Pressley’s husband?
Conan Harris grew up in a single-parent household in Boston’s inner city neighborhoods. In the seventh grade, he was on the bus home from school when he and some friends got into a fight with a boy from another neighborhood. They beat up the boy and thought they got away with it until the next day when Conan was arrested at school.
Conan was charged, found guilty, and sentenced to serve time at Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Norfolk. Fortunately, Conan met a mentor named Richard Brooks at MCI-Norfolk who helped him navigate the prison system and break the all too-common cycle of becoming a repeat offender.
Conan earned his GED alongside other inmates and at his graduation ceremony, he was inspired to continue his studies and earn a college degree. Soon, his cell was filled with books from the floor to the ceiling.
He worked hard to stay away from the violence in prison and developed goals for his life on the outside.
After a total of 10 years in jail, Conan was finally free and determined to turn his life around. He decided his purpose was to help other young men avoid the same pitfalls that had landed him in MCI-Norfolk, so Conan earned a sociology degree from Boston University and began working for The Boston Foundation’s StreetSafe Boston program.
He started off as a program coordinator working with at-risk youths and quickly rose through the ranks to become a supervising manager.
In 2011, Conan met Ayanna in a meeting at the Charles Street A.M.E. Church in Boston. They got into a friendly debate and two weeks later, when they ran into each other again at another event, Ayanna asked him for a ride to the T.
Conan ended up driving her all the way home and three years later, they were married. The union also made Ayanna a stepmom to Conan’s 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship and the happily blended family now lives together in Dorchester, Mass.
In 2016, Conan became the deputy head of public safety initiatives for Boston’s Mayor Martin Walsh, who hired Conan to work on “coordinating a citywide approach to tackling complex issues causing and perpetuating crime.”
He was also hired as the director for the Boston chapter of the Obama-backed initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, an organization that provides support systems for young men of color.
Early in 2020, Conan left his job in public office to start his own consulting company, CJ Strategies, which aims to connect community-based organizers with the resources they need to achieve their missions.
Even more recently, on Jan. 13, 2021, Conan was diagnosed with COVID-19.
In her statement, Ayanna said that her husband had been in Washington D.C. for her swearing-in ceremony last week and was in the Capitol complex during the Jan. 6 attack.
She credited her Republican colleagues and their refusal to wear masks, even when in a confined crowded space, for creating a super-spreader event while the representatives were hiding from the insurrectionists.
Here’s wishing Conan a speedy recovery and all the best in continuing his work for the communities of Boston.