Sally Pederson served as Lieutenant Governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. She was first recognized in the political arena for her leadership and advocacy for adults and children with disabilities. Prior to her time in office, she helped found The Homestead, a living and learning center for Iowans with autism. She was board president for the Autism Society of Iowa, and served on many boards, including the National Alliance for Autism Research (now Autism Speaks) and the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation.
Pederson’s experience advocating on behalf of the disabled influenced her work as Lieutenant Governor. During her time in office, she spearheaded successful programs to expand access to health care for children, require insurance coverage for mental illness, and create 1,000 new units of affordable housing for people with disabilities.
A former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party and the Democratic Lt. Governors’ Association, Pederson is the founder and chair of the advisory board for REACH (Realizing Education and Career Hopes), a college program for students with disabilities at the University of Iowa. Most recently, Pederson has been active in her role as co-chair of Justice Not Politics, an organization that aims to protect Iowa’s fair and impartial courts and keep money and politics out of judicial system.
Pederson’s formidable career in the non-profit and public sector has won her many awards and leadership positions. In 2005, she was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2006, she served as honorary chair of the first-ever Special Olympics USA National Games, and in 2009, she received the Interfaith Alliance Award and the YWCA Women of Achievement Award.
Pederson and her husband, Jim Autry, have an adult son with autism.