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Jo worked regionally and nationally to serve the people of western Massachusetts long before being sworn in to public office in January 2019. After earning a Masters of Social Work from New York City’s Hunter College School of Social Work, Jo moved to western Massachusetts to continue work on prison reform and housing and shelter policy. While always keeping a steady focus on increasing equity and opportunity for people in western Massachusetts, Jo contributed to the work of the Center for Human Development, American Friends Service Committee, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, National Priorities Project, and MoveOn. During her seventh year as executive director of National Priorities Project, the organization was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Jo was elected to the State Senate to represent the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district in 2018 as a write-in candidate. She is the first woman to hold the seat. 

Jo’s work

In her first term as a State Senator (2019-2020), Jo served as the Senate Chair for the Joint Committee on Public Health and the Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. That same session, the Senate President asked Jo to lead the Senate working group charged with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts. Jo also represented the Senate on the statewide, multi-agency Food Security Task Force.

In her second term (2021-2022) Jo again served as the Senate Chair for the Joint Committee on Public Health and as the Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. Jo was also appointed to be the Senate Chair of the newly-created Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management. During this session, Jo also co-chaired the Special Legislative Commission on Racial Inequities in Maternal Health and the Senate Working Group on Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care established after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

During the current session (2023-2024), Jo has been appointed as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, the Assistant Vice Chair of Ways and Means, and a member of the Joint Committees on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion and the Senate Committees on Rules and Global Warming and Climate Change.

For the complete list of Jo’s Appointments, Committees, and Caucuses, please click here

The team’s accomplishments 

During her first term, Jo filed multiple bills that were passed into law, including legislation to create a state program focused on carbon sequestration and soil health, a study of the restart of the passenger rail along the Route 2 corridor, a bill to establish a net zero energy stretch building code, legislation to evaluate the impact of the Proposition 2½ taxation cap on education, and more.

In the 2021-2022 session, Jo led the passage of legislation to create a Foster Parents Bill of Rights, to modernize the state’s electric grid and create a consumer advisory board to oversee the process, to increase the climate readiness and health of K-12 public school buildings, to designate the Official State Dinosaur (which was discovered by a woman paleontologist from Mt. Holyoke College), and more. 

Jo and her team also focus on bringing home funding for her district and for state programs that matter at home and across the Commonwealth. During her first two terms (2019-2022), Jo brought home over $13.7 million in direct earmarks for her district. These earmarks have funded important services like pediatric nursing services at regional Child Advocacy Centers, a microtransit pilot in Franklin County, a manufacturing initiative at Greenfield Community College, a mediation program for veterans, mosquito control services, and more. Other earmarks have funded infrastructure including affordable housing in Franklin County and the North Quabbin, supportive housing for individuals with complex needs in Northampton, a tractor for the Town of Wendell, community-based crisis response initiatives in Amherst and Northampton, improvements to Montague Water Pollution Control Facility, $3.4 million for the Town of Orange to clean up and rebuild from a 9-alarm fire, and more. Her work has also led to the addition of about $300 million to statewide line-items that are key for her district. 

During her first two terms, Jo and her team also resolved about 1,800 constituent cases and continue to work to make government more accessible to western Massachusetts residents through both direct service and legislative work. 

Jo’s bills for the 2023-2024 legislative session

In the 2023-2024 session, Jo and her team are working to push our Commonwealth toward the future, filing 65 bills in eight major areas. From health and health care to energy, environment, and agriculture, Jo is committed to advocating on behalf of her constituents and bringing western Massachusetts issues to the forefront of discussions on Beacon Hill. 

Jo’s wife, Ann, is a public school teacher. Jo and Ann have two children, both of whom attend public school. They live in Northampton with their two dogs and two cats.

Pronouns: she/her/hers

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