Jess King is a working mom, small-business champion, and a leader in local economic development. She never planned on running for office. But after a career fighting for working families in Pennsylvania, she joined the race for the 16th Congressional District in Pennsylvania because too many of us are working hard for too little while a greedy few rig the game in Washington.
Jess was born and raised on the edge of farm fields in Leola, Pennsylvania. After graduating from college, she moved to Pittsburgh’s East End for a year of service and spent the next decade of her life fighting for affordable housing and community development. She served as the founding Executive Director of the Union Project, an effort that restored an abandoned church into an arts and social enterprise incubator. The project became an essential component of community life in Pittsburgh’s East End – helping to knit together diverse neighborhoods and create greater access to jobs and new opportunities for creative expression. Fifteen years later, the Union Project is still thriving in Pittsburgh.
In 2010, Jess became Executive Director of ASSETS and built it into one of Lancaster’s most impactful organizations. Driven by her vision of a Lancaster that rewards hard work with dignity and a living wage, Jess and her team expanded ASSETS from serving 150 business leaders a year in 2010 to 1,500 last year, quadrupling the number of businesses started and grown from 22 to 93 per year, and supporting entrepreneurs in creating or retaining over 350 jobs in the last fiscal year. She co-founded ASSETS programs that support all businesses who want to give back to the common good, including supporting business owners to hire individuals with barriers to employment, pay family-sustaining wages, and increase employee ownership.
Jess has spent her life in the trenches of our economy, rolling up her sleeves alongside Mennonites and lifelong Pennsylvanians to build stronger communities and local economies that serve people more than corporate profit. She knows that no matter our differences, most Americans seek the same things. We want to make a better life for our families and be free to pursue our dreams in a fair economy. That’s why she’ll work tirelessly to defend the rights of immigrants and refugees and build a welcoming community in the face of Trump and the GOP’s Muslim Ban, border wall, and attacks on DREAMers. That’s why she’s a staunch supporter of Medicare for All, of debt-free public college, and of criminal justice reform. Jess is running because her values are our neighbors’ values, and together we can transform this country so that all of us can make ends meet, protect our environment, and get the healthcare we need and deserve.