At age 26, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz was the youngest woman elected to the Florida state legislature and at 39 the first Jewish Congresswoman ever elected from Florida; she represents the state’s 20th Congressional district, covering Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Wife and mother of three, breast cancer survivor, and congresswoman, she is a bastion of democracy and a fiercely dedicated Democrat. Appointed DNC Chair on May 4, 2011, Ms. Wasserman Schultz became, practically overnight, the face of the Democratic Party in the 2012 Presidential election.
The Congresswoman’s new book For the Next Generation talks about needing to change if we want to ensure prosperity for ourselves and an improved way of life for young Americans, Marked by clarity and by Debbie’s characteristic poise, this polemic is informed by the congresswoman’s own personal and professional experiences. It digs deep, exposing very real threats that America faces as a result of its failure to confront tough decisions. The Congresswoman conveys a vision of an America that has learned hard lessons from its recent past, an America galvanized by a renewed sense of purpose for applying that wisdom through forward-thinking policies on education, civil rights, and foreign policy. She describes how she will fight to overcome the legislative obstacles that inhibit progress, and she calls upon fair-minded Americans to lend their own strengths to securing a better tomorrow for the next generation.
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At the age of 41, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Further testing showed that I was also BRCA2 positive which greatly increased my chances of a recurrence as well as the possibility of battling ovarian cancer. In 2008, I underwent 7 surgeries to combat the disease. Once I was cancer free and received a clean bill of health, I used my experiences and role as a policy maker to educate young women about their breast health which included introducing and passing the Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act (EARLY Act), which is now law, passed as part of the Affordable Care Act. During my talks and speeches, I share my personal story and stress that young women can and do get breast cancer and I also encourage young women to: learn the facts, know their bodies, speak up for their health and embrace support.
For the past 21 years, I have served in elected office. First, as the youngest woman ever elected to the Florida Legislature, at 26 and now, representing Florida’s 23rd Congressional District in the United States Congress. My experiences have helped make me a pragmatic lawmaker and adept politician. In 2011, I was asked by President Barack Obama to serve as Chair of the Democratic National Committee, the country’s oldest and largest political party. I share with audiences my thoughts on the politics of the day, elections and the strategies I've employed to become an effective policymaker. Balancing Work/Family
When I was first elected, I had only been married for one year. My mentor and then boss, Florida state legislator Peter Deutsch, knew of my desire to run for office "someday" and encouraged me to run for the state House seat he was vacating. I was incredibly excited, but also hesitant - thinking like most women that I would pursue my dream to run after I had children and they were older. But, having been raised to believe that a woman could "have it all" and with the support of my spouse, family and support network, I began the juggle of balancing work and family as a wife, mother and a representative of the people. It's not always easy but it is possible to do it well and I share the unique challenges that many working women struggle with to balance work and their professional lives and the debate over whether "having it all" is possible. Women's Empowerment.
I currently retain the title of "youngest woman ever elected to the Florida state legislature" and I work every day to make sure that record is broken. As Chair of the Democratic Party, this includes launching the Democratic Women’s Alliance – a program that actively works to engage more women in the political process from those who make the decision to run for office to women who participate solely at the ballot box. I also discuss the importance of "lifting as we climb" and making sure that women in leadership bring other women along as we break through the glass and marble ceilings in boardrooms and the halls of Congress. This includes helping women navigate through the old boys network that so many often face as they work to advance. Civility/Working Across the Aisle
In a time when the narrative coming out of Washington is about how one party hates the other, I have made it my personal mission to reach across the aisle and work with my colleagues to pass major legislation as well as socialize and just get to know each other. Civility in politics and in all aspects of life is very much needed in these times. There was a time in Congress when legislators from the two parties, socialized, vacationed together with their families and worked together to pass legislation. This was one of the reasons why I started the bipartisan Congressional Women’s Softball Game. The relationships we have built on the softball field, practicing at 7am in the morning for 3 straight months, has not only brought us closer together as women but also as colleagues working together on legislative initiatives in the U.S. House. I share my perspective on civility and discuss how defining moments such as the shooting of my close friend Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, have made us all pause to think of ways to tone down the rhetoric and work together. Children’s Advocate
As one of the few mothers with young children in Congress, it is important to raise issues that may not reach the top of the congressional agenda if a mom in Congress didn't raise it. I've made child safety a priority and been an advocate for children who have no lobby or interest group advocating for them. The stories that I've heard from parents who have lost a child touched me deeply. Those stories are what propelled me to become a strong voice for more safety measures in our nation's pools and spas (Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act) and to promote protecting children online through Internet and online safety as well as fighting to step up America's effort to combat a multi-billion dollar global child exploitation industry that gravely endangers thousands of children. (PROTECT Our Children Act). Health Care
Voting for the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was one of the proudest moments in my legislative career. Not only did the law provide quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, it also included a piece of legislation I sponsored that was very important to me – the EARLY Act. This legislation develops and implements a national education campaign to educate young women of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds about the threat of breast cancer, better enables health care professionals to identify the specific threats and warning signs of breast cancer, and provides grants to organizations that support young women diagnosed with breast cancer in order to receive the assistance they need-including social and psychological support, fertility preservation counseling, and recurrence prevention training. I've always been taught by my parents that if you don't have your health, you don't have anything. I speak to health care providers,industry organizations and advocates about the ACA and the challenges and opportunities we have in this country to create a quality, affordable health care system for all AmericansJewish Community
As the first Jewish woman to be elected to Congress from Florida, I am so proud to take my love for Israel to work with me each day. In 2005, I introduced legislation urging the President to proclaim the month of May - Jewish American Heritage Month, to recognize the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. The resolution to create the month passed unanimously, first in the House of Representatives in December 2005 and later in the Senate in February 2006. Since then, Jewish American Heritage Month has been proclaimed and celebrated annually. Most recently, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation on May 1, 2012 in which he stated that "generations of Jewish Americans have brought to bear some of our country's greatest achievements and forever enriched our national life." My discussion includes the unique perspective that Jews bring to the American political discussion and the responsibility that we as a people have taken on for generations to engage in tikkun olam, "repairing the world". I also discuss with Jewish audiences my breast cancer experience and diagnosis as a BRCA2 carrier, a mutation which as an Ashkenazi Jew (a Jewish person of Eastern European descent) I was more likely to have, significantly increasing my risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
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