Senator Petersen is the Senate Democratic Leader and ranking member on the Rules Committee. She also serves on the Commerce and Judiciary committees.
Janet was born in Beaverdale and has lived in northwest Des Moines most of her life – other than college. She graduated from UNI with a degree in Communications and earned a master’s degree in Integrated Communications from Drake University.
Before joining the legislature, Janet worked on the ’92 Clinton/Gore Campaign, for the American Heart Association and for Strategic America, a marketing communications firm.
In 2004, Janet proclaimed a goal of making Iowa “the safest place in the nation to have a baby” after losing her own daughter, Grace, to an umbilical cord complication when she was nine months pregnant. That year, she helped Iowa launch its stillbirth registry project which has brought more than $2 million in research funding to our state to help find the causes and cures for stillbirths, which cause more than 26,000 deaths in the United States each year.
In 2008, Janet founded a nonprofit organization with four other central Iowa women called Healthy Birth Day. The organization is devoted to reducing the number of stillbirths in Iowa and nationwide through research, education and advocacy.
As a mother of young children, Janet has fought for a better childcare system and access to quality preschool for Iowa families. She believes a solid education is the key to a successful future.
Janet is also an advocate for smoke-free air. In 2008, she sponsored Iowa’s Smoke-free Air Act, which was signed into law that year. The law is considered one of the strongest smoke-free air acts in the country, protecting more than 99 percent of Iowa’s workforce from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Janet is married to Brian Pattinson, who works for Principal Global Investors, and together they have three children.