Gina Ortiz Jones learned at an early age that it takes both hard work and opportunity, and often sacrifice, to create a better future. A lesson she learned from her mother, who despite having graduated from a prestigious university, had left home and come to the United States as a domestic helper – because she believed the sacrifice would afford her family a better life and a shot at the American dream. Her mother’s example and sacrifices instilled in Gina the importance of humility, hard work, and willingness to step-up and take risks in order to create and seize opportunities for herself and others when needed.
Their road has not always been an easy one. Gina’s mother worked multiple jobs and long hours while raising Gina and her sister on her own. Gina knows first-hand what it is like to live in subsidized housing, as well as what it is like to rely on reduced lunch as a child. Gina watched as her mother faced a diagnosis of colon cancer and understands the value healthcare coverage played in her survival.
Even so, education was always a priority in their home, Gina learned that education and service offered a pathway to opportunities. Supported by her family and educators who both challenged and believed in her, Gina graduated in the top ten of her class from San Antonio’s John Jay High School, earning a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship to attend Boston University. Believing it is important to give back and wanting to help other students like her, Gina established the “Leadership through Service” scholarship at her alma mater in 2013 – an annual award that recognizes students who are succeeding in the classroom and also serving their communities.
Knowing that many of the opportunities she and her family had were only possible because they were in the United States, from the time she was a young girl Gina knew she wanted to serve and give back. After graduating from Boston University with a BA and MA in Economics, and a BA in East Asian Studies, Gina entered the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer, where she deployed to Iraq and served under the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
In the 12-years following her active duty service, Gina has continued to build her career in national security, intelligence, and defense – including advising on operations in Latin America and Africa, to include advising on military operations that supported South Sudan’s independence referendum and serving in the Libya Crisis Intelligence Cell. During her last 16 months as a civil servant, Gina worked at the intersection of economic and national security issues. Detailed from the Intelligence Community, she served as the Senior Advisor for Trade Enforcement, a position President Obama created by Executive Order in 2012. She would later be invited to serve as a Director for Investment at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where she led the portfolio that reviewed foreign investments to ensure they did not pose national security risks.
For her years of service and extensive experience, Gina was recognized as a 2016 American Council on Germany Young Leader and is a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member. She is also a member of the Truman National Security Project Defense Council and earned a graduate degree from the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies.
Throughout her career, Gina has seen first-hand the dangers associated with the hollowing out of government institutions and attacks on the free press, the effects of policies deliberately aimed at weakening the voice of women and other marginalized groups, and the threats posed by leaders who see their position as an opportunity to turn a profit versus develop a nation. Now as she has seen those who are supposed to be leading this country creating those same threats here at home, while families like hers are seeing opportunities disappear, Gina once again feels called to serve her country and community where they need her most.
Gina is running for Congress to bring her unmatched experience, unique perspective, and the core values instilled in her while growing up in San Antonio to work for us in Washington. Gina will fight every day to ensure all Americans are given the opportunities and promise of a better future that our country gave to her and her family. The new frontline is the House of Representatives and Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.