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.