Get to Know the 24%: Senator Jane Smith
Senator Jane Smith has never been one to shy away from public service. Prior to her service in the North Carolina State Senate, Sen. Smith served on many boards, taught in public schools, and led a successful real estate company. “My husband threatened to put the word NO on a card beside the phone…” she jokes, speaking about her passion for public service. “I always felt the need to say yes.” It is no surprise then that when former State Senator Michael Walters retired; she answered the call to serve once again. “I thought I’d be voting for Michael again…” she quips.
Speaking about her time thus far in the NC Senate, Senator Smith’s passion for the people is evident. As an advocate for quality education, she has fought bills that would make cuts to education. Workforce development is also a passion of hers. “Education and economic development go hand-in-hand…” she says.
Noting the importance of getting to know legislators across the aisle, Senator Smith knows how important this aspect is in getting things done. One of her proudest bipartisan legislative accomplishments was a bill that encourages doctors to talk to parents about diabetes in children. Under Reegan's Rule, mandatory diabetes screening would be a part of well-child care. These early screening efforts have the potential to significantly affect diabetes prevention.
When we talked about women serving in government, Senator Smith mentions how difficult it is for the average woman to serve given family demands. While she notes that the number of women serving has gotten better, she says we can still do more. Family and medical leave would be a good start, she adds. Senator Smith encourages women legislators to join organizations like Women in Government (WIG) that promote women in leadership. At the end of the interview, Senator Smith mentions the benefits of hearing about what legislators are doing in other states. “…I heard what Tennessee was doing [in healthcare] and I thought to myself – I wonder if we can do the same here in North Carolina.”
About the Author
Corey Barton joined Women in Government as a Healthcare Policy Fellow in September 2015. He graduated in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. In the past, Corey worked as a political fundraising consultant for a private firm. He also worked in a support role to the CEO of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Health Policy at The Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University with the intent of graduating in May 2017.
About Future WIG
Women In Government supports women of all ages in leadership roles, and is working hard to ensure that young women are given the resources and mentorship they need in order to achieve their goals. This program takes place at WIG Regional conferences, where WIG asks women state legislators and leaders in the private sector to encourage young women across the country to pursue leadership roles. This program is made possible by Southwest Airlines.