I grew up here in the Berkshires – right down the road. I went to Pittsfield public schools. My family has been in the Berkshires for generations – working for Sprague Electric and GE, and as farmers, carpenters and housekeepers. In my family, you simply worked hard.

Andrea and her husband, Tim, and sons, Frankie (left) and Ennis (right).

My grandmother, Janet Blasioli, started working at GE mopping the floors. A supervisor asked her if she knew how to type. She told him that she did indeed and when she sat down at that typewriter – for the very first time in her life – she learned how to type, one hunt and peck at a time.

That legacy of a strong work ethic and pushing personal limits has instilled in me the grit that is required to tackle tough problems.

And thanks to my grandparents and my parents’ hard work, I have had opportunities that they did not enjoy. I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. Then I became the first person in my family to go to law school.

After law school, I worked in Florida on overturning death penalty convictions. It was grueling work, and it brought me face to face with some of the worst problems in our criminal justice system. But the work also gave me hope that with a fighting spirit, and with the right kind of people, we can make things better. As Martin Luther King, Jr.said, “the arc of moral history is long, but it bends towards justice.”