Janice Weiner will be as dedicated and effective an advocate for Iowans human rights she was for Turks. I know because I witnessed and admired her ability to bring Turks narratives of abuse to light and to persuade Turkish officials of their importance to the US.
Janice was the human rights officer at the American Embassy in Ankara in the mid-1990s. As her supervisor, I marveled at her ability to interview human rights victims in her flawless Turkish -- without an interpreter present -- which encouraged them to recount frankly having been arrested arbitrarily, imprisoned harshly and tortured. When she traveled to southeastern Turkey, where the army and police used violence to crush a regional uprising, she distracted her official "minders," spoke quietly with human rights victims, then persuaded Washington to instruct the Embassy to press Turkish authorities to concede that such methods were unacceptable.
Janice was later promoted to the position I had held and, I understand, maintained her commitment to human rights. She made it clear to Turkish authorities that their failure to observe human rights violated a key American value.
I first encountered the extraordinary Janice Weiner when she served as US Consul General in Düsseldorf. Having worked with Foreign Service Officers for more than 2 decades in 70 countries around the world, one quickly notices the characteristics of someone whose intelligence, passion and activism sets them apart from the pack.
Janice is one of the most exemplary people with whom I have had the good fortune to work. Her attention to the big picture while tracking all of the lesser details, her ability to lead by example, her deep humanitarianism, and her sharp intelligence all came together in our interactions in Germany in a region that was troubled by immigration issues and an economy that was trying to reinvigorate after much of the industrial strength had gone elsewhere.
I witnessed her mobilize a very mixed audience Germans and Turkish-Germans and heard a gasp of approval from the audience whom she addressed in impeccable German followed by equally impeccable Turkish. This is so very rare, but it points to Janice's capabilities as well as her care for people across the spectrum, as well as her understanding of how much such a gesture will mean.
I can't think of someone better prepared and ready to serve a next innings than Janice.
At last the loyal Coralville kid comes forward to serve this community after serving her nation, for years, as a diplomat. It's about time to have a woman of this caliber in this position!
In 2016, Weiner dusted off her grassroots political skills and worked for three intensive months as a field organizer in Iowa. The results of the election only deepened her determination to ensure that good, progressive candidates, who care about all people, get into office.
Weiner is exceptional [...] she is an intelligent and good person. But, when it comes to knowledge and experience, there is no comparison.
-Mary Kate Pilcher Hayek
Janice and I have been friends for life ever since we were college roommates. She was the correspondent who stayed in touch, kept up. I went to law school, and Janice visited me in Boston. She, too, took the law school plunge, and then joined the Foreign Service. When she moved to the Washington DC area between overseas postings, she drove down to Richmond (I remember our kids, one Halloween, on the swing set in costume), and we really connected as adults, parents and professionals.
We shared our ups and our downs, as good friends do. And I followed her career - Poland, Canada, Turkey, Mexico, and Germany - impressed by her capacity as a single parent to juggle the sheer logistics of parenting, moving, settling them all in, and climbing up the Foreign Service career ladder. After she moved home to Iowa, it was wonderful to connect as political kindred spirits on her home territory when I was there campaigning in 2016.
As a long-time friend, a mother, a former judge, and former Virginia Secretary of Education, here is what I know about Janice: When she says she will fight for public education, or better mental health care, believe her and believe IN her - she cares, she will look for every avenue possible, she will continue to learn, strategize, and find allies - and she will not give up. I can't wait to see her in the Iowa Senate.
“I am delighted to endorse Janice Weiner for the Iowa Senate.
Janice's and my paths have crossed and recrossed - it's pretty remarkable. We were both born and raised in Iowa - I, in Des Moines; she, in Coralville. We attended Princeton University together - I think there were just five of us from Iowa in the Class of 1980. We got to know each other there, including during one very snowy drive to and from Iowa, and through the Princeton Jewish community. Unbeknownst to me, she attended law school at Stanford at the same time I went to University of Michigan Law School. We both took and passed the fiendishly difficult California Bar Exam. The next time we crossed paths, Janice had already been accepted into the Foreign Service, and I was working for a law firm in LA and tracked her down to ask if she thought the State Department would be a good fit for me, too. I joined, and we again pursued parallel careers, serving our country abroad.
When Janice retired from the Foreign Service, I was elected president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA, the bargaining unit and professional association of the Foreign Service. One of my first projects was to convene a group of career and political ambassadors to pursue my Chief of Mission initiative, with the goal of hammering out a series of best practices - what it takes to be an effective ambassador, or chief of mission, for the US. Janice approached me, seeking for post-FS employment, and I knew she was the person for the job. She helped recruit ambassadors to serve on the panel, and shepherded it through its deliberations and many drafts, producing a document on which all agreed - our blueprint for success.
Now she is back home in Iowa. As an Iowan, a Princetonian, a lawyer, a Foreign Service Officer, and a member of the Jewish community, I commend to you Janice's experience, intelligence and her ability to bring people together and hammer out deals. I urge you to put her experience to work in the Iowa State House! You won't regret it!”
Robert Silverman is the AJC's first Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations; he grew up in Des Moines.
“Janice’s clear-eyed leadership makes her team better. Her clear moral compass makes sure we move in the right direction. Janice was my boss when we both served 1996-1998 in the U.S. State Department office overseeing U.S. relations with Austria, Germany and Switzerland, three countries in the heart of Europe and at the center then as now of many of our country’s interests. During the two years Janice was Assistant Director, she ensured all in the office worked together to orchestrate successes in our contributions to a broad range of issues, including: religious freedom, Holocaust Assets/Nazi Gold, NATO enlargement, Congressional testimony, German/American Stationing issues, arms control, exploration of outer space, German FM Kinkel’s and MOD Ruehe’s visits, and personnel assignments for the office and our overseas posts. Diplomacy is the art of making the possible the real while aspiring for the best. With our country’s fractured political landscape, every state needs someone like Janice who not only leads, but takes us in an honorable direction. Janice: a talented, proud, honorable, courageous Iowan.”
"SARS: The 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto was both a public health crisis and a threat to the region's economy. Tourists were cautioned against travel to the city, and health care workers were especially at risk. Severe acute respiratory system demonstrated how quickly a disease spreads in hospitals. 44 people in Ontario died of the disease, over 400 became ill, and 25,000 Toronto residents were quarantined. Janice Weiner provided daily status reports to the Department of State in Washington and the CDC in Atlanta. These reports were highly praised by the then-director of the CDC, who flew to Toronto to obtain first-hand knowledge of this virulent outbreak.
The blackout: The Norheast Blackout in 2003 affected an estimated 10 million people in Ontario, in addition to leaving 45 million without power in eight U.S. states. The collapse of the entire electric grid caused massive power outages, and affected international air travel as well as financial markets. Reports on the situation in Ontario were penned by Ms. Weiner, who kept Washington informed through hourly updates. Her analysis of the situation gave the Departments of State and Energy a first-hand assessment as the crisis evolved."
Toni Marwitz, former Consul General, Toronto