About Jo Anne Simon

Jo Anne grew up in working class Yonkers, NY, the oldest girl in a family of five.  She learned early from her mother, the daughter of Italian immigrants, and father the value of family, commitment and respect for others.  These are the values she brings to her profession and her community advocacy

Jo Anne moved to Brooklyn in 1981. Jo Anne has served as female Democratic District Leader and State Committeewoman for the 52nd Assembly District since 2004. 

Jo Anne stands up for her constituents and puts principle over politics.  As a result, she was often challenged by the Brooklyn machine's hand-picked candidate. She was a forceful leader in ending Vito Lopez' politics as usual in the Brooklyn Democratic Party. In 2012, she was in the forefront of the effort to force Lopez from office and adopt a series of long-overdue reforms to open up the Kings County Democratic Committee. 

She is a co-founder and Secretary of the New York State Democratic Committee's Progressive Caucus. Jo Anne has worked throughout Brooklyn's communities to change the way decisions that are made so as to increase environmental justice and bring fiscal responsibility to the public agenda, increase affordable housing, street safety and access to education. 

The first in her family to attend college, Jo Anne graduated Iona College with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences, Gallaudet University with a Master's Degree in Education of the Deaf, and Fordham University School of Law, where she earned her law degree at night while working full-time. 

After stints as a judicial law secretary and teaching in Hofstra University School of Law's clinical program, she now maintains a specialized disability civil rights law firm in Downtown Brooklyn and is an adjunct Assistant Professor of Law at Fordham. Jo Anne is a nationally recognized expert in her field and her work was recently featured in the New York and National Law Journals.

A few key facts about Jo Anne's experience organizing in our communities:

Jo Anne and her husband Bill Harris, make their home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

Fordham University School of Law, J.D. 1990

Long Island University, course work towards Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology

Gallaudet University, Washington, DC. MA, Education of the Deaf 1976

Iona College, New Rochelle, NY. BA, Communication Sciences 1974
Professional Experience
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Fordham University School of Law (1998-Present)

Staff Attorney, Hofstra Law School, Disabilities Law Clinic (1992-96)

Lead counsel for the plaintiff in Bartlett v. New York State Board of Law Examiners, a landmark case on the rights of people with disabilities

Association of the Bar of the City of New York Chair Committee on Legal Issues Affecting Persons with Disabilities (2000-03), Member, Transportation Committee (2005-2007)

Author of law review and professional journal articles; chapters in numerous books, co-editor of special issue of "Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal," published by the Learning Disabilities Association. Chapter in Representing Individuals with Disabilities, 3rd Edition, published by New York State Bar Association.

Professional Advisory Board and Public Policy Committee, Learning Disabilities Association of America

Everyone Reading, President.  www.everyonereading.org

Founding member of the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) www.ahead.org

Special education teacher and college administrator (1975-81)

Sign language interpreter with experience interpreting on Broadway and Off-Broadway (1978-00)

Branch manager Oppenheimer mutual funds, Regional sales manager (1982-87)

Advisor to faculty and administrators regarding issues pertaining to higher education and disabilities; high-stakes standardized tests; and transitioning students with disabilities from high school to postsecondary education.

Civic Experience

President, Boerum Hill Association (1993-1999), Chair Traffic & Transportation Committee; Chair, Land Use Committee (1992-2005); Chair of Atlantic Yards Task Force (2003-2006); Member, Hoyt-Schermerhorn Task Force.

Co-founder, Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Coalition, created to bring forward the voice of the communities surrounding downtown Brooklyn regarding transportation and land use concerns in connection with the Downtown Brooklyn Plan.Chair, Gowanus Expressway Community Coalition; Immediate Past Chair, Gowanus Community Stakeholder Group, which advocate for a progressive and transparent process for replacing the elevated Gowanus Expressway with an environmentally responsible tunnel-a desperately needed investment in our infrastructure, creating jobs, improving quality and increasing national security. [Report of the Stakeholders' Group.]

Member, Independent Neighborhood Democrats.

Former Member, Executive Committee, 504 Democrats, the country's oldest political club focusing on disability rights.

New York State Committeewoman and Democratic District Leader of 52nd A.D. (2004 - present)