Representative Janet Petersen is serving her fifth term in the Iowa House of Representatives, representing the people of northwest Des Moines. She is the Chairwoman of the House Commerce Committee and serves on the Ways & Means and Human Resources committees. She is a member of the DLC.
After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a B.A. in communications/public relations in 1992, Janet returned to Des Moines to work on the Clinton/Gore campaign. She went on to work at the American Heart Association, increasing Iowans’ awareness of health care issues and lobbying for tobacco control measures.
In 1996, Janet joined Strategic America, a marketing communications firm in West Des Moines. As a senior public relations account executive, she provided marketing and communications counseling to nonprofits, for-profits, and government agencies.
In 1999, Janet earned an M.A. in integrated communications from Drake University.
During her tenure in the Iowa House, Janet served as the lead democrat on the Work Group charged with creating the Iowa Values Fund Work Group. She also served as an ex officio member of the Iowa Values Fund Board of Directors. 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. That year, she helped Iowa launch its stillbirth registry project which has brought nearly $1 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. Rep. Petersen is president of the organization.
As a mother of young children, Janet has fought for a better child care 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 smokefree air. In 2008, she sponsored Iowa’s Smokefree air Act which was signed into law that year. The law is considered one of the strongest smokefree air acts in the country, protecting more than 99 percent of Iowa’s workforce from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
In addition to a busy home life, Janet devotes a great deal of her time to community service. For more than 15 years she has been a “big sister” for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Des Moines Arts Festival, teaches Sunday School and serves on the Outreach and Stewardship committees for Walnut Hills United Methodist Church.
Janet has made her home in the district for 15 years. She is married to Ames native Brian Pattinson, and together they have three children.