Matilda Cuomo

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Matilda Cuomo
First Lady of New York
In office
January 1, 1983 – December 31, 1994
GovernorMario Cuomo
Preceded byEvangeline Gouletas
Succeeded byLibby Pataki
Second Lady of New York
In office
January 1, 1979 – December 31, 1982
Lieutenant GovernorMario Cuomo
Preceded byEdwin Margolis
(Second Gentleman)
Succeeded byDee DelBello
Personal details
Mattia Raffa[1]

(1931-09-16) September 16, 1931 (age 88)[2]
Mario Cuomo
(m. 1954; died 2015)
Children5 (including Andrew, Margaret, Chris Cuomo)
EducationSt. John's University

Matilda Cuomo (born September 16, 1931) is an American advocate for women and children, former First Lady of New York from 1983 to 1994, and matriarch of the Cuomo family. She is the widow of Governor of New York Mario Cuomo. The founder of the Child Advocacy Group Mentoring USA, Cuomo was inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Cuomo was born Mattia Raffa.[1] Her parents, Mary (Gitto) and Charles Raffa, had immigrated to the United States from Sicily.[1][4] Cuomo's mother attempted to register her daughter for kindergarten at a Brooklyn elementary school. However, the principal and school registrar threw both out of the registration because her mother could only speak Italian at the time.[1] Years later, Cuomo recalled the registrar yelling, "Get Mrs. Raffa out of here and tell her she can come back when she can speak English," at her mother.[1] During elementary school, Raffa's teachers called her Matilda, rather than her birth name, which was Mattia, which she accepted initially out of fear.[1] The name stuck and she has used Matilda ever since.[1]

Matilda Raffa Cuomo met her husband Mario Cuomo in 1951[5] in the cafeteria at St. John's in Queens[6] and was with him for 64 years until his death in 2015.[7] The couple had five children together,[8] one of whom is Andrew Cuomo, New York’s 56th governor.[9]

Notable achievements[edit]

Cuomo founded Mentoring USA, which works to create mentor relationships for youth ages 7-21.[10] Between 1983 and 1995 she was First Lady of New York State. She chaired the New York State Decade of the Child initiative.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Cuomo was the recipient of the first Liberty Partnerships Program Lifetime Achievement Award for her work.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Cohen, Paula (1997-07-13). "A Lady First". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2019-01-14. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  2. ^ National Women's Hall of Fame
  3. ^ Grondahl, Paul. "Matilda Cuomo thrilled by National Women's Hall of Fame induction". Times Union. Archived from the original on 2018-01-20. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Blauner, Peter. "From the Archives: Mario Cuomo's All-Star Family Feud". NYMag. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  6. ^ Sack, Kevin. "AT HOME WITH Matilda Raffa Cuomo; Working to Renew the Lease". New York Times. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Matilda Cuomo: Former NY Governor Mario Cuomo's Wife". Daily Entertainment News. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  8. ^ Evans, Heidi. "'One of the great love stories': Matilda and Mario Cuomo's long life together". NY Daily News. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  9. ^ Johansson, Scarlett. "Andrew Cuomo U.S. Governor, Government Official, Lawyer(1957–)". Biography. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Our Founder: Matilda Raffa Cuomo". Mentoring USA. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  11. ^ Burman, Jonathan. "Matilda Raffa Cuomo To Receive First Liberty Partnerships Program Lifetime Achievement Award". NYSED. Retrieved 22 November 2017.