Jackie Speier has served San Francisco and San Mateo Counties since she was first elected in April 2008 to fill the unexpired term of the late Congressman Tom Lantos. Before her election to the US House of Representatives, she served for 18 years in the California State Legislature.
Jackie Speier was born in San Francisco’s Sunset District, and is a life-long resident of the Bay Area. She attended public schools in South San Francisco and Burlingame’s Mercy High School. While studying at University of California, Davis, she interned for State Assemblyman Leo J. Ryan in his Sacramento office. After graduating, she joined Ryan’s Washington, DC staff upon his election to Congress. She returned to San Francisco to earn a JD degree from UC’s Hastings College of the Law before rejoining Congressman Ryan as his legal advisor.
In November, 1978 Jackie and the Congressman led a group to Jonestown, Guyana to investigate claims that constituents were being held against their will by the Rev. Jim Jones. Speier and Congressman Ryan were escorting defecting cult members to their plane when Jones’ gunmen attacked them. Ryan and four others were killed–Jackie was shot five times and left for dead.
This near-death experience motivates her vow “not to waste another minute of my life.” She has authored more than 300 state laws supported by Democratic and Republican Governors. In Congress, she has championed legislation to end sexual assault in the military and at colleges, require background checks for all gun sales, protect consumers from frustrating robocalls, and pass the equal rights amendment.
Jackie now serves on two crucial committees in Congress: the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). She works tirelessly to fight wasteful spending, ensure our intelligence community has proper and effective oversight, and has been a recognized champion fighting military sexual assault. Jackie is a leading Democratic voice in protecting women’s healthcare and biomedical research through her service on the Republican created House Select Investigative Panel to Attack Women’s Health. She is also a member of her party’s leadership team as Senior Whip, and a Vice-Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
She has worked in the district to keep City College open and accredited, helped over 8,000 job seekers since 2010 through Job Hunters Boot Camps, and recovered over $4 million for veterans denied benefits. She has supported federal programs to create affordable housing, and secured $125 million for Caltrain electrification in the President’s budget. After a 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion struck a San Bruno neighborhood, killing eight and destroying 38 homes, Jackie took a lead role in seeking justice and support for affected residents. She continues to advocate for stronger safety laws, improved oversight of pipeline regulators, and greater accountability for PG&E.
In 2012 Newsweek named Jackie to its list of 150 “Fearless Women” in the world. She is the author of Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back, and co-author of a popular self-help book for women, This Is Not the Life I Ordered. When asked for her philosophy of life, Jackie often quotes Winston Churchill: “Success is never final and failure is never fatal.”
Jackie is married to Barry Dennis and has two children.