Member Spotlight: Jo Oldson
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Eagle Grove Iowa and graduated high school there. I came to Des Moines to attend Drake University and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science/Public Administration. After college I worked in the financial services industry for several years. During that time, Drake started a program for people working full-time to attend law school part- time. I attended the first year equivalent over two years and then completed my last two years going full time. During my last year in law school, I completed an internship with the Iowa Insurance Commissioner’s office and was offered a regulatory compliance job upon graduation. I left the Commissioner’s office in 1998 to work on newly-elected Governor Vilsack’s staff. After leaving the Governor’s office, I ran for the Iowa House of Representatives and have been serving in the House since January, 2003.
Some notable achievements
On the professional level, I am very proud to have been the first female representative to chair the House Appropriations Committee and during that tenure we established statewide universal preschool. I am currently serving as the Democratic Minority Whip. I have also served in a number of volunteer capacities in the community and was honored by the Young Women’s Resource Center as one of the recipients of its Visionary Woman award.
What is it like to be a lawyer-legislator?
In Iowa we have a part-time citizen legislature. As such, we each come in with different skills and life experiences and demands on our time. As is true for many professions, the law has its own language and lawyers bring a particular training and understanding of that language. Lawyers serving in the legislature frequently have to balance the demands of a busy day at the Capitol with maintaining a law practice.
Thoughts on November 2018 election results
One of the highlights of the November election is that for the first time in Iowa history, House Democrats became the first caucus-either chamber, either party-to have a majority of female members.
What I do away from work
I am lucky to have several members of my extended family here in Des Moines. I particularly enjoy spending time with my great niece and nephews. I am an avid reader with a wide range of reading interests. I have always enjoyed being physically active and do as much walking and swimming as I can. This past summer I was able to hike the 500 mile Camino de Santiago in Spain.
Best thing about Polk County Bar
PCBA provides a great opportunity for members to network and get to know other lawyers practicing here in Central Iowa. There are monthly Bench/Bar lunches that provide a great opportunity for learning and conversation and excellent CLE sessions.
Best place to visit in Polk County
I realize I have a bias on this one and there are so many great places to visit, but I will give a shout-out to the State Capitol building. I come to work every day and see some amazing architecture, art, and pieces of history.