Jane O'Meara Sanders' Accomplishments Are Varied & Impressive & She's So Much More Than Bernie's Wife
As we watch the increasingly circus-like presidential race unfold, it's undeniable that the 2016 presidential candidates have very impressive spouses. Katie O'Malley is a district court judge, Candy Carson has an MBA from Yale, and Bill Clinton is, of course, a former president. And right up there in that accomplished group is Jane O'Meara Sanders, Bernie Sanders' wife, closest political advisor, and confidante. Throughout her own career, O'Meara has established herself as an intelligent, driven, politically minded woman with a passion for community development.
It seems that O'Meara was destined to work in a public service capacity — she developed a social awareness early in life by watching her father struggle with a chronic illness. “It was my first realization that money can buy health, and that this fact was deeply unjust,” she told Yahoo in an interview earlier this year. O'Meara earned her college degree in social work from Goddard College in Burlington, Vermont while simultaneously juggling home life as a mother of three, and shortly thereafter, she began working for the Burlington Police Department Juvenile Division and volunteering with the city's youth center.
It's through her work with the police department that she first met Bernie Sanders, her future husband of now 27 years. Their shared political ideologies have strengthened their relationship and helped each succeed in their respective fields. O'Meara served briefly as the provost and interim president of her alma mater in 1996 and 1997, then as president of Burlington College between 2004 and 2011, during which time she helped to develop new academic majors and a financial aid program to support students. She also received a doctorate from the Union Institute in sociology, with a concentration in leadership and policy studies.
Now, O'Meara is working to get the two of them into the White House. She has worked for his campaigns in a variety of capacities, including media buyer, policy advisor and chief of staff. She also helped Sanders draft over 50 pieces of legislation during his time in Congress and launch the Progressive Congressional Caucus in 1991. O'Meara is familiar with the political system and seems eager to use that experience during a potential term as First Lady — she's already been compared to Eleanor Roosevelt, whose political activism is as yet unmatched by any proceeding First Lady.
Bernie Sanders calls O'Meara "a soulmate, a sounding board," and as they work towards the White House together, they seem to be even more united and focused on their goals. “It’s about the issues. We’ve always been about the issues,” O'Meara said in her Yahoo interview. That shared passion and partnership could take the Sanders all the way to the presidency.