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Jan Schakowsky

Jan Schakowsky is a Democrat member of Congress who represents the Ninth District of Illinois. Born in Chicago in 1944, Schakowsky grew up in that city's Rogers Park section. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1965, she worked briefly as a schoolteacher. In 1969 she established National Consumers Unite, a consumer-advocacy group that led a campaign to imprint freshness dates on food packaging in stores. From 1976-1985 she worked as a director of the Illinois Public Action Council, another consumer-advocacy organization. In 1985 she became Executive Director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens, where she was employed until 1990. In 1990 she was elected to the state legislature. Schakowsky today is a member of the Democratic Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. The Almanac of American Politics describes her as "an outspoken progressive, one of the leftmost members of the Democratic Caucus." Schakowsky is a close political ally of fellow Progressive Caucus member Nancy Pelosi and was an early backer of the latter's successful bid to become House Minority Leader in 2002. Pelosi rewarded Schakowsky with an appointment to the powerful position of Chief Deputy Minority Whip and a seat on the Democratic Steering Committee (which allocates committee assignments to House Democrats). In 2003 Schakowsky condemned the influence that "private power" had gained over the media. She joined Global Exchange founder Medea Benjamin at a "Take Back America" conference to propose tight government limits on the consolidation of broadcasters such as Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News Channel, and other enterprises. In 2004 Schakowsky co-sponsored a bill to ease restrictions on U.S. trade with the Communist dictatorship in Cuba.