Senator Charleta B. Tavares - Senate District 15

Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) was sworn in on January 5, 2015 for her second term as the State Senator for Ohio’s 15th district and Senate Assistant Minority Leader. A committed and results-oriented public servant, she has served in the Ohio Senate since 2011. Her district includes Bexley and parts of Grandview Heights as well as the historic neighborhoods of Columbus.

Tavares serves on the powerful Finance Committee and is vice-chair of the Finance – Health and Medicaid subcommittee. She is one of six legislators to sit on the influential Controlling Board, an oversight panel that allows the state to modify budget appropriations while keeping close tabs on spending. This legislative panel meets to review certain state contracts and appropriation levels, transfer money between funds, authorize certain purchases, release capital funds and perform a variety of other tasks involving state and federal disbursements. Tavares is the ranking member of both the Health, Human Services & Medicaid and the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee. In addition, she also sits on the Transportation, Commerce and Labor, Agriculture, and Rules and Reference committees. She also served as the co-chair of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission.

As a state senator, Tavares’ legislative priorities include: the elimination of health, education and criminal justice disparities; investment in Ohio's infrastructure; consumer protection; and addressing family stability. Tavares has championed and successfully enacted some of the most significant legislation in the country to reduce infant mortality and eliminate disparities among African-American babies. She has also passed legislation to create the Family Stability Commission, to provide for outpatient commitment for mental health services and to require insurance companies provide equal coverage to different chemotherapy medications. She has successfully fought for a review of all business tax incentives. She is a tireless advocate for those who are marginalized, including children, seniors and individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Previously, Tavares served as a member of Columbus City Council between 1999 and 2010, and chaired the Council’s Housing and Health and Human Development committees. Some of her noteworthy accomplishments include:

  • Sponsored and passed the Clean Indoor Air ordinance, which served as the catalyst for the successful statewide initiative;
  • Created and successfully implemented the Housing Preservation Fund;
  • Created the Emergency Human Services Capital Fund;
  • Assisted more than 35 non-profits with capital and equipment needs;
  • Sponsored and passed the Living Donor Paid Leave Program ordinance.

Before joining the city council, Tavares left a legacy for the citizens of Ohio during her five-and-a-half-year tenure in the Ohio General Assembly as the Representative for the 22nd District. Tavares is the first Democrat African-American woman from Franklin County to serve in the state legislature both in the House and Senate. She is also the first African-American woman to ever hold a leadership position in the history of the Ohio General Assembly, and the first Democrat woman to hold a leadership position in both the House (Minority Whip) and the Senate (Assistant Minority Leader).

Tavares is the President and CEO of PrimaryOne Health, a federally-qualified primary health care system with 11 sites in central Ohio that provides access to services that improve the health status of families, including people experiencing financial, social, or cultural barriers to health care. PrimaryOne Health provides more than 40,000 patients with primary, OB/GYN, pediatric, dental, vision and behavioral health care, as well as with specialty services including physical therapy, cardiology and dermatology.

Tavares served as Executive Director of the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence, a statewide nonprofit whose mission is to encourage Ohio’s health care providers to adopt practices to better serve the state’s diverse population, such as recognizing the unique health challenges faced by ethnic groups and providing translation services.

A native of Columbus, Tavares attended Eastmoor High School, Spellman College in Atlanta, GA, and The Ohio State University.