She was raised in a man’s world, never picturing herself in the spaces men occupied. “Girls didn’t get bat mitzvahs,” Jacky Rosen says. “My young self certainly couldn’t have imagined becoming a synagogue president.” But decades later—after leaving behind a computer programming career to care for her aging parents and in-laws—she took charge of Congregation Ner Tamid, the largest synagogue in Nevada. It was her first elected office.
For three years, Rosen managed a $2.5 million budget, helped lead fundraising efforts and spearheaded the building’s transition to solar energy. Most importantly, she learned how to listen with intent—to really listen. It was a demanding position, and her talents were noticed: In 2015, U.S. Senate minority leader Harry Reid personally reached out to Rosen to encourage her to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Nevada’s 3rd, a swing district represented by a Republican. Although the Las Vegas Review-Journal described her as “a political unknown” with “zero political experience,” Rosen won the Democratic primary with 62 percent of the vote. In the general election, with a 1 percent margin, she won her second elected office.