I grew up in Atlanta, and developed a commitment to service in the community through my parents, Lenore and Kenneth Jackson, owners of a ladies' apparel manufacturing company. They were strong role models for me. On the factory floor, I would help where I could and learned by my parents' example that investing in your business means first investing in your employees and understanding their rights both as workers as well as human beings. My mother was an equal partner in the business and my father was awarded the Anti-Defamation League Southeast Region Humanitarian for training and hiring workers with disabilities.
I went on to graduate from the University of Georgia with a B.B.A. in Marketing and Management and earn a Master's Degree in Vocational Education. I taught Distributive Educational and Business Management before returning to teach in the Atlanta Public Schools system.
In 1975, I married Gary Reiss and moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania where we've raised five children - Adam, Joshua, Jordan, Jonathan and Jennifer - and are now grandparents to five grandchildren. We took over Gary’s family’s small business, a men’s retail store, in downtown Trenton. I returned to public education for ten years as a teacher and training coordinator for the Trenton Public Schools system.
I remained active in the community through the PTA and at our temple, but never considered running for office. However, like it did for so many others, our lives changed forever on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Our son Joshua was working on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center. The pain was both physical and emotional. It was a dark time, but my son would not have wanted me to be broken, and so I chose not to turn away from the world, but to get involved and change it.
I went to work and with the help of a great community brought the Garden of Reflection 9/11 Memorial to Lower Makefield, which now stands as a tribute to all those lost that day, including the eighteen Bucks County residents, and a symbol of the power love and faith can have over our darkest moments. What I came to discover through my work on that project was how a horrible tragedy gave me a spine of steel, because when you live through the worst thing a parent can experience, there is little left in this world to fear.
I joined the local Environmental Advisory Council, and when the opportunity came up, ran and was elected Lower Makefield Supervisor, where I took on the cause of standing up to developers and preserving open space, protecting historic farmland and getting a stalled Community Center project moving again.
Then, I was asked to run countywide for the office of Bucks County Prothonotary. I took on the challenge and won, becoming one of the first Democrats to win a county row office in over three decades. As Prothonotary, I've cut out waste and have worked to modernize the office, simultaneously creating new revenues while saving the county money.
I've learned you need two things to get stuff done: An ability to build coalitions and a fearlessness to stand up to developers, political machines and special interests and do the right thing. I have that fearlessness and have proven that time and again as a mother who helped bring lawsuits to Iran and Saudi Arabia and looked Mohamed Atta and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the eye in my quest for justice with the countless families who lost loved ones on 9/11.
I'm running for Congress because we need that fearlessness in Washington. The fearlessness to do the right thing. To stand for reform. To stand up for change. To stand up to power.
I have taken on special interests, political machines, and even international terrorists. After you have done that - standing up to the mess in Washington just doesn't seem that tough.
With your support I can help fix it.