Women’s Hall of Fame

Jackie Speier

In November 1986, Jackie Speier became the first woman elected to the 19th Assembly District of San Mateo County. She was serving her fourth consecutive term while being inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame.

“I became interested in government service when the late Assemblyman Leo Ryan came to speak to my class at Mercy High School,” stated Speier, commenting on her early political involvement. “I soon volunteered as an intern in his district office.” Later, after Ryan was elected to Congress, Speier served as his legal advisor.

Ryan was killed in 1978 while on a Congressional investigation in Guyana. Speier, who had accompanied him, was shot five times. Upon her recovery and return to San Mateo, she ran unsuccessfully for his Congressional seat. Subsequently she ran for the County Board of Supervisors, becoming the youngest member of the board and the first woman to represent her district.

Speier, born May 14, 1950, in San Francisco, graduated with a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis (1974) and Hastings School of Law (1976).

In the Assembly, Speier chaired the leading consumer protection “watching dog” committee. Under her leadership the committee uncovered numerous acts of inefficiency, waste and abuse of public resources by state bureaucrats who have subsequently resigned from office. She was also a member of the Finance & Insurance, Judiciary and Health committees.

Speier was married to Dr. Steven Sierra, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident early in 1994. Before his death they experienced the pain of adopting a baby only to have the birth mother take it back. Subsequently she became the mother of a son and a daughter.

During her time as a member of the State Assembly, Speier authored more than 165 pieces of major legislation that were passed during her tenure. Jackie Speier has gone on to represent California’s 14th Congressional District from 2008 to 2022 (Amended October 2022).
*This biography and photo of the honoree was published in .

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