It has been my distinct privilege to represent the people of Newton in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 1995. A proud Democrat, I am a strong voice on Beacon Hill for the citizens of Newton.
My priorities in the State House are driven by the needs and values of the people of Newton and by my own background as a registered nurse.
I am honored to serve in a leadership position as the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities which provides oversight to the Department of Children and Families, The Department of Developmental Disabilities, The Department of Youth Services, The Department of Transitional Assistance, The Commission for the Blind, The Commission for the Hard of Hearing, and Mass Rehabilitation Commission.
I am the founder and co-chair of the legislative Mental Health Caucus, the first of its kind in the country, and founder and co-chair of a task force on Women in the Criminal Justice System and their children, under the Caucus of Women Legislators of which I was the co-chair in 1998. In recent years, I served on the Commission to End Homelessness.
I am one of the legislature’s most outspoken advocates for progressive policies for incarcerated individuals, including women. I recently served on the Criminal Justice Policy Commission, looking at ways to prevent crime by implementing data-driven, evidenced based public safety reforms that protect citizens in our cities and towns, reduces recidivism and saves taxpayer dollars.
My bachelor’s degree is from Boston University School of Nursing and my first job as a nurse was at Boston Children’s Hospital, following this, I became an instructor for Boston University School of Nursing undergraduate students on a pediatric rotation. I went on to earn a master’s degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing from Boston University and worked in a group private practice in Newton for close to 20 years.
I have lived in Newton Lower Falls for 41 years with my Indian-American husband, Nasir A. Khan, M.D., who was born in London, England. We have three married children, Tira, Zafar and Alexander, who attended the Newton Public Schools. When my children were in elementary school I served on the PTO’s Creative Arts Committee, and as a legislator I have worked closely with the Newton School Committee on many issues. My husband and I are fortunate that two of our children live in Newton, along with five of our seven grandchildren: Sasha, Alana, Viveca, Chace, and Ava. They attend five Newton Public Schools: Angier, Brown, Zervas, Oak Hill and Newton South. One of our children lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife and our two youngest grandchildren, Ginger and Jett.
I am engaged with many of Newton’s vibrant community organizations. I co-founded the Newton Cultural Alliance (NCA), which promotes the city’s many arts and cultural organizations, with the goal of bringing culture and community together. I have served on the Boards of the Newton Community Services Center and the West Suburban YMCA. I currently serve on the Board of Newton’s New Philharmonia Orchestra; I am a member of the Newton Bicycle-Pedestrian Taskforce; honorary Board member of the Newton Boys and Girls Club; Advisory Board member of the Newton-Tanzania Collaborative; and I was recently invited to join the Health Administration Advisory Committee at Regis College.
An active Democrat all of my life, I have served on the Newton Democratic City Committee for over 20 years. I am a member of the League of Women Voters, and a State Director for the Women Legislators' Lobby of Will/Wand – a national organization of women advocating to reduce the national military budget. I am also a member of the Advisory Board to the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA).
I am proud of my accomplishments. Most recently, on May 2, 2012, I received the Charles Johnson Maynard Award from the Newton Conservators, Inc. along with the Newton Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force for the restoration of the Lower Falls Bridge.
State House Accomplishments:
Throughout my career as state representative, I served on the Joint Committees on Human Services and Elder Affairs, Housing, Public Health, Health Care Finance, State Administration, Judiciary and as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.
I have worked hard to be a strong voice for:
- affordable and compassionate health and mental health care;
- quality education for our children;
- affordable housing;
- a clean and safe environment;
- a vibrant economy
- an accessible and reliable public transportation system;
- ending homelessness;
- protecting services for our seniors and our most vulnerable citizens;
- social justice and equal rights.
I have spearheaded many successful initiatives in our community including:
- persuaded the Newton-Wellesley Hospital to create a domestic violence prevention program;
- brought three major sound barriers to Newton, two along the Mass Pike and one on Route 128 in Waban;
- secured state funding for major improvements to the Lower Falls Community Center;
- obtained funding in a state bond bill for irrigation of the Leo J. Martin Golf Course;
- advocated successfully for the conversion of an unused railroad bridge to a pedestrian walkway over the Charles River in Lower Falls;
- supported the disabled community by initiating and continuing to advocate for an accessibility plan for the Auburndale Commuter Rail Station;
- advocated for the arts, with my passion for the arts going back to when I was growing up and became a serious ballet student under E. Virginia Williams, who founded the Boston Ballet Company.
During my years in the legislature, my staff and I have worked hard to be responsive to the requests and suggestions of the people of Newton, making improvements to our environment, our infrastructure, our children’s education, state and city services, and our ability to protect the most vulnerable among us.
Throughout my public life, I have been inspired by the memory of my parents. My father left Nazi Germany in 1937 to begin a new life in America and later welcomed his parents and grandparents, who escaped from Germany and were on the last ship President Roosevelt allowed into this country, arriving on Ellis Island in 1941. My father developed a deep love for his adopted country and a passion for democracy, equal rights and social justice, which he instilled in me. I was born in Cherokee, Iowa, and my family moved first to Grafton, Massachusetts when I was three and later to the town of Wellesley where I graduated from high school. My mother was from the Midwest and after eventually moving to Wellesley, became actively engaged in the community. In 1973 she was appointed chairman of the Nutrition Education Committee, Women’s Auxiliary to the Massachusetts Medical Society, and testified before Hubert Humphrey’s Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, focusing on ways to provide adequate nutrition to millions of children attending schools not participating in the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Programs.
The 11th Middlesex District precinct lines have changed due to redistricting which happens every 10 years. I look forward to meeting new constituents who vote at the Franklin School and at the Newton Free Library, a new polling place. I also look forward to reaching out to many Newton residents during this reelection campaign to share information about myself, my work in the legislature, and in the city of Newton!
It is an honor to serve the citizens of Newton in the Massachusetts State House. My leadership, experience, and vision for the future will guide me during the next legislative session, and I ask for your vote in November so we can continue our important work together.