Senator Nereida “Nellie” Rivera-O’Reilly was born and raised on the island of St. Croix. She is a graduate of the St. Croix Central High School, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and Finance, and is a certified professional in Human Resources. Prior to becoming a senator she worked as a paralegal for over fifteen years.
Nellie is a Henry Toll Fellow Alumni class of 2009, graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government Leadership Program at Harvard University, Commissioner on the Board of the Education Commission of the States, member of the National Conference of State Legislators Women’s Legislative Network, the Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
A staunch advocate for excellence in education, she is a proponent of Charter Schools and gender based education. Moved by the systemic problems plaguing our public education system, she ran for the 15th Virgin Islands Board of Education in 2004. During her term on the Board of Education, she successfully lobbied members to consider Single Sex Education as an option to narrow the achievement gap between boys and girls.
She has been a fierce advocate for Hispanic Virgin Islanders, serving as President of Hispanos Unidos of the Virgin Islands for two consecutive terms. During her first term as President of Hispanos Unidos she was instrumental in obtaining a grant from the Virgin Islands Resource Center for the disabled. With this grant, Hispanos Unidos was able to open the doors to the first Hispanic Community Technology Center, providing after school programs for students, as well as “English as a Second Language,” and computer courses for adults.
In her capacity as President of Hispanos Unidos she was successful in writing and securing several grants which resulted in various community programs targeting students and the general public. She developed and nurtured partnerships with other nonprofit organizations to secure support and funding for ongoing activities at the technology center. She spearheaded numerous events for the cultural and educational enhancement of Hispanics in the Virgin Islands and established an important partnership with the St. Croix Avis resulting in the Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Supplement. Nellie enjoys writing and has published numerous Spanish and English articles in the St. Croix Shopper and local newspapers.
She created the Spanish Newsletter “Dame un Break,” using it as a tool to inform and educate the Hispanic community. In 2012 she coauthored “The Health of Black Americans: Comparisons between the US Virgin Islands and the US 50 States” to be published in the May/June 2013 issue of Public Health Reports.
Holding steadfast to her belief in giving back to her community, she has dedicated many years to serving a number of non-profit organizations. She is a former member of the V.I. Commission on the Status of Women, the V.I. Humanities Council Board, and the St. Croix Environmental Association. She served as President of the Estate Profit Action Committee and Movimiento Latino en Accion. Presently, she is a member of the Steering Committee for My Brother's Workshop.
She was nominated by the Delegate to Congress, the Honorable Donna Christensen, for the “Young American Congressional Award”. She served as a member of the Business and Professional Women Organization and was selected the winner of the “Young Careerist Speak Off” competition.
Nellie was selected as “Elected Official of the Year 2012” by the National Association of Social Workers VI Chapter. She was awarded the “Citizen of the Year” award from the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Senator O’Reilly has served in the 28th, 29th and 30th Legislatures. During her most recent term she served on the Committee on Finance, Committee on Economic Development, Agriculture and Planning, Committee on Culture, Historic Preservation, Youth and Recreation, Committee on Education and Workforce Development, Agriculture and Planning, Committee on Homeland Security, Public Safety, and Justice, Committee on Health, Hospital & Human Services, Committee on Housing, Public Works, and Waste Management, and Committee on Rules and Judiciary.
Born in Estate Profit and raised in Estate Calquohun, she is the daughter of Francisco Rivera Navarro and Diana Cruz- Rivera, and the eldest of 4 children. Her brothers Francisco Jr., Luis Daniel and Roberto (deceased) were her childhood friends. She is married to John, her husband of 27 years and they are the parents of two sons, Stephen and Brandon. Her favorite hobbies include baking, running and boxing.