About jamie belsito

Jamie Belsito has been fighting for progressive policies on issues from women’s rights to increased educational opportunities to immigration reform and has been a consistent voice for the underrepresented her entire career. She has been a leader for our district and will continue working to ensure that our families and communities are once again prioritized.

Here is her story.

Jamie

1910

In 1910, my family came to Boston from Damascus, Syria.

In 1910, my family came to Boston from Damascus, Syria.

They were fleeing war and a Christian aide society helped to resettle them in Massachusetts.

1930

My grandfather became a South Boston “Brownie.”

My grandfather became a South Boston “Brownie.”

He hung out at the YMCA, learning gymnastics. From there, he was recruited to perform in vaudeville before serving in the Navy during WWII. After the war, he worked as a stilt walker, “Mr. Tall Top,” and performed into his 70s.

1950

My Great-Uncle Richard Fitzgibbon was the first casualty of the Vietnam War.

My Great-Uncle Richard Fitzgibbon was the first casualty of the Vietnam War.

A Technical Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, he was killed in Saigon in 1956, years before an official war was declared. His name was not originally included on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington upon its dedication in 1982. It took 43 years for the US Department of Defense to acknowledge his death in that war.

1960

My mother’s family, they were Fitzgibbons.

My mother’s family, they were Fitzgibbons.

My great-grandmother, “Nana Fitz,” was the matriarch of fierce Irish women.  One of 18 siblings, she was a single mother who raised 9 children and worked full time as a short order cook.

1960

In 1962 my great aunt, Alice Fitzgibbon DelRossi, addressed a Congressional committee to support bills for the aid to the elderly.

In 1962 my great aunt, Alice Fitzgibbon DelRossi, addressed a Congressional committee to support bills for the aid to the elderly.

In 1963, her testimony before the U.S. Senate was instrumental in passing the G.I. Bill of Rights. In 1967, she became the first female Chairman of the Board of Selectman in Stoneham and was re-elected three consecutive years.

In 1968, Aunt Alice was the original sponsor of the Massachusetts Bonus Bill for Vietnam Veterans. That year, she ran for State Representative and topped the ticket in the primary with more than 19,000 votes.

1968

My dad served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

My dad served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

He then became a floor layer and owned his own store in Wakefield. He continues to work and serve in Floor Layers Union 2168.

1969

My mother raised me and my two brothers.

My mother raised me and my two brothers.

My parents married in 1969 and divorced in the mid-80s. As a single parent, my mother struggled to find her footing in the workforce and raise her three kids in Reading. Here she is in 2018. 

1991

I was a first-generation college graduate.

I was a first-generation college graduate.

I pulled a perforated application form for Salem State out of a magazine in my student counseling center at Reading High. I typed it up in the basement of the law firm where I worked every day after school. For four years, I commuted to Salem and worked full time to pay the bills.

1996

I interned with the legendary Congressman Joe Moakley.

I interned with the legendary Congressman Joe Moakley.

He taught me how to make government work for regular people. He was such a forward thinker on Central American policy. He was a true leader.

He put me to work on a backlog of immigration files for people who wanted our help in this district.

1998

I entered corporate America and became an immigration specialist.

Working with Senator Kennedy’s office, I worked on two bills, which helped businesses recruit on the H1-B visa while providing funding for workforce training in the U.S.

1999

Aunt Alice succeeded in getting her brother’s name added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

Aunt Alice succeeded in getting her brother’s name added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

The U.S Department of Defense acknowledged him as the first casualty of the Vietnam War and etched his name into the wall, Memorial Day, 1999. My family worked for years to make sure the significance of his death was not forgotten.

2001

September 11th, I watched the Pentagon burn from my apartment building.

September 11th, I watched the Pentagon burn from my apartment building.

Before then, one agency handled immigration policy. After 9.11, five agencies evolved. Law enforcement, which had not been part of the conversation, became an integral piece of that policy.

2006

In 2006, Peter Belsito and I married.

In 2006, Peter Belsito and I married.

We first met as teenagers on a school sponsored trip to the Soviet Union. Our daughters, Hadia and Rose, arrived in 2010 and 2012.

2010

Laid off at 8 months pregnant, my family faced a crisis.

Laid off at 8 months pregnant, my family faced a crisis.

The loss of a job, no health insurance, the never-ending maze to find health services, I laid awake at night figuring out how to keep a roof over our heads. I know the challenges that can make or break you.  I know many in our district face similar challenges.

2013

I experienced severe postpartum depression after the birth of both daughters.

In 2013, police shot a woman while driving erratically near the White House. She had a toddler in the backseat. That news shook me. I knew she had postpartum depression.  That day, I called my state senator, Joan Lovely. She came to my house and we talked about the need for this state’s healthcare system to address mothers.

2013

Senator Lovely asked me to join a state commission on postpartum depression.

Senator Lovely asked me to join a state commission on postpartum depression.

From there, I joined North Shore Postpartum Help and became a maternal mental health advocate.

2015

On Beacon Hill…

…where postpartum screening bills had gone nowhere for six years, our Ellen Story Postpartum Commission succeeded. The Baker Administration announced that MassHealth would cover screening.

2015

I decided to go back to D.C.

I decided to go back to D.C.

This is me, day one, as the Advocacy Chair for the National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health. I took this selfie thinking, “OK. Let’s see what I can get done.”

2016

On Capitol Hill…

On Capitol Hill…

I organized the first ever advocacy day in support of women’s health.

2016

Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act (BABES Act)

Our first year, my work brought relief from TSA, which had been forcing moms to dump their breast milk prior to traveling. The bill requires TSA to better support air passengers traveling with breastmilk, formula and infant feeding equipment.

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