Jackie Speier is an American politician who serves in Congress as the U.S. Representative for California’s 14th congressional district. A mentee of Leo Ryan, Speier is only one of the two congresspersons in the U.S with an Armenian descent.

The Early Life of Jackie Speier


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#TBT to my first years in the California State Assembly when I spoke in support of the creation of the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sacramento’s Capitol Park. Over two decades and a few hairstyles later, I’m still fighting for women’s role in history to be recognized. #womenshistorymonth

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Karen Lorraine Jacqueline Speier was born to Nancy and Fred Speier on May 14, 1950, in San Francisco. Speier’s mother was a survivor of Armenian Genocide. Speier’s father was a German immigrant. Jackie got her name after first lady Jackie Kennedy. Speier graduated high school from Mercy High School in Burlingame before attending the University of California at Davis from where she graduated with a B.A. Jackie received her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law at the age of 26.

The Career of Jackie Speier

Jackie Speier’s foray into politics began when she served Congressman Leo Ryan as a congressional staffer. Speier was selected as a member of the congressman’s November 1978 fact-finding mission organized to investigate allegations of human right abuses by Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple followers. Peoples Temple ambushed the team on November 18 killing five members including Ryan. Speier was shot five times before help arrived for her after 22 hours.

Following the death of her mentor, Speier decided to precede him by running to fill his vacancy. However, Jackie was defeated by G.W. Holsinger during the Democratic primary. Speier then ran for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, eventually becoming the youngest person ever to be elected on the board. She was later selected as chairwoman of the board in 1984.

Jackie Speier decided to run for California State Assembly while still serving her second term on the Board of Supervisors in 1986. Speier was eventually victorious and was reelected five more times in the Assembly after which the State Law would prevent her from running for the Assembly. In 1998, Speier was elected to the California State Senate. Her position was instrumental in securing the $127 million funding for the initiation of “Baby Bullet” express service for Caltrain.

Following the end of her Senate term in 2006, Speier ran in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor of California but was defeated by John Garamendi with a very close margin. In 2008, while endorsing Hillary Clinton’s bid for president, Speier announced that she would be running for her mentor Leo Ryan’s previous district of 12th District. Her opponent Tom Lantos eventually decided not to run for the next term and even endorsed Speier as his successor. Following Lantos’s death in 2008, Spier won a special primary to serve in his remaining term period. Speier was eventually reelected in November with 75% of the vote.

On August 26, 2017, Speier advocated the removal of President Trump from office under the 25th Amendment to the U.S Constitution because of his erratic behavior and mental instability. This was prompted by Trump’s response to the Charlottesville rally and his dealings with Kim Jong-un in Twitter. Jackie also supported the #MeToo movement by sharing her own experience with workplace sexual harassment.

Personal Life & Net Worth

Jackie Speier has been married twice. Speier’s first husband, Dr. Steven Sierra, died in a car accident in 1994. The couple had a son before Sierra’s death. Their daughter was born seven months after the accident. Speier has since remarried and currently lives with her second husband Barry Dennis after tying the knot in 2001. Jackie Speier has an estimated net worth of over $10 million dollars.

Categories: Biography