Sonoma Speaker Series: In Conversation with U.S. Congresswoman JACKIE SPEIER
Friday, Nov. 22nd, 7-8:30pm at Hanna Boys Center Auditorium
U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has served San Francisco and San Mateo Counties since she was first elected in April 2008. Before her election to the US House of Representatives, she served for 18 years in the California State Legislature.
Speier was born in San Francisco’s Sunset District and is a life-long resident of the Bay Area. While studying at UC Davis, she interned for State Assemblyman Leo Ryan, later joining 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 the People’s Temple in Jonestown, Guyana to investigate claims that constituents were being held against their will by the Rev. Jim Jones. These claims turned out to be true. This catastrophic event ended up being the largest mass murder-suicide in American history. Over 900 men, women and children died from cyanide poisoning.
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 at point blank range with an assault rifle and left for dead on the airport tarmac for 22 hours. She underwent 10 surgeries in the aftermath. While recovering, she realized she had a choice to make: Did she want to be a victim or did she want to be a survivor?
Forty years after the Jonestown massacre changed her life, Speier told her extraordinary story in her book, UNDAUNTED: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back. UNDAUNTED shares the personal struggles—as a widow, a mother, and an outspoken victim of gun violence—that have shaped Congresswoman Speier’s unwavering dedication to her constituents and to fighting for what’s right - fighting against waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption.
Despite ongoing health struggles stemming from the shooting, and personal tragedies including the loss of her husband while she was pregnant with her second child, Speier continued to blaze an unparalleled path in regional and national politics.
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.
In 2012 Newsweek named Jackie to its list of 150 “Fearless Women” in the world. She is the co-author of a popular self-help book for women entitled 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 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. She 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. And more recently, she is a very vocal proponent of impeaching President Trump.
Jackie Speier will be on stage in conversation with David Bolling, Editor & Publisher of Valley of the Moon Magazine.