Senator Janet Petersen is serving her first term in the Iowa Senate after having served as a state representative in the Iowa House for 12 years.  She is the Chairwoman of the Government Oversight Committee and Vice Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee.  She also serves on the Appropriations, Ways & Means, State Government and Judiciary Committees.

Janet was born in Beaverdale and has lived in Senate District 18 most of her life (other than a brief trip to Northern Iowa for college).  She graduated from UNI with a degree in Communications and earned a masters degree in Integrated Communications from Drake University.

Before joining the legislature, Janet worked on the ’92 Clinton/Gore Campaign, for the American Heart Association and for Strategic America, a marketing communications firm.

Janet is married to Brian Pattinson, who grew up in Ames, and together they have three children.


Janet is a home-grown leader who stands up for Iowa families and knows how to get things done.
  • Born in Beaverdale 
  • Married to Brian Pattinson and proud mother of three children
  • Graduate of UNI and Drake University
  • State Representative in the Iowa House of Representatives for 12 years 
  • Vice president and co-founder of Healthy Birth Day, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing stillbirths 
  • Served on boards of Des Moines Arts Festival, United Way of Central Iowa, Polk County Health Services and Polk County Housing Trust 


In 2004, Janet proclaimed a goal of “making Iowa the safest place in the nation to have a baby” – a commitment she made after losing her own daughter, Grace, to an umbilical cord complication while nine months pregnant. That year, Janet helped Iowa launch its stillbirth registry project. Since then, the project has brought more than $2 million in research funding to our state to help find the causes of and cures for stillbirths, which account for more than 26,000 deaths in the United States each year.

In 2008, Janet founded a nonprofit organization with four other central Iowa women called Healthy Birth Day. The organization is devoted to reducing the number of stillbirths in Iowa and nationwide through research, education and advocacy.


As a mother of young children, Janet has fought for a better childcare system and access to quality preschool for Iowa families. She believes a solid education is the key to a successful future.

Janet is also an advocate for smokefree air. In 2008, she sponsored Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act, which was signed into law that year. Considered one of the strongest smokefree air acts in the country, the law protects more than 99 percent of Iowa’s workforce from the dangers of secondhand smoke.