Childhood & Early Career
Jill Ellen Stein was born on May 14, 1950, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., to Joseph and Gladys Stein. Soon after she was born, the family moved to Highland Park, where she was raised with her siblings. Her parents were of Russian Jewish descent, who had seen the horrors of the ‘Holocaust’ during the Second World War. They were practicing Jews who followed Reform Judaism.
She adapted to the religious way of life as a child and regularly attended the ‘North Shore Congregational Israel’ in the nearby town of Glencoe. She went there every Sunday, for years. She later admitted that Reform Judaism had instilled the core values of the ‘Old Testament’ in her. She believed that her upbringing had taught her the value of raising her voice against anything that was not good for society.
The Vietnam War was raging when she was in high school. Back then, she had a strong anti-war sentiment and held vigils outside her school library every week to protest against the war.
Following her high-school graduation, she joined ‘Harvard College’ and graduated “magna cum laude” in psychology, sociology, and anthropology. She was an excellent student and graduated college in 1973. She eventually developed an interest in medicine and graduated from ‘Harvard Medical School’ in 1979.
Following her graduation, she moved to Boston and practiced medicine as a small-time physician in the ‘Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’ and at the ‘Simmons College Health Center.’ She also worked as a medicine instructor at ‘Harvard Medical School’ and as a physicist at the ‘Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Center.’
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Activism & Politics
She worked as a physician for about 2 decades. Over time, she began noticing a pattern in the co-relation between the environment and the overall health of people. In the late 1990s, she ventured into activism, claiming that a healthy environment was a basic human right. She assisted many non-profit organizations and community groups and raised her voice against the increasing toxicity in the air.
She also realized that Native Americans had been dangerously exposed to pollutants in the air, such as lead and mercury, and that nobody paid heed to them due to racism. She became their voice and officially began her fight against blatant industrialization in 1998, after she pointed out the “Filthy Five” coal plants in Massachusetts.
She aggressively began protesting against the “Filthy Five” coal plants, thus making her voice heard nationally, to make people think about the environmental standards required for such plants.
Following this, she gained immense confidence and helped the poverty-stricken population of Lawrence, Massachusetts, New England, by protesting and succeeding in closing down the toxic medical-waste incinerator. In order to save the population from mercury poisoning while fishing, she became instrumental in rewriting the Massachusetts fish advisories.
By then, she had come to be recognized locally. In the early 2000s, she was instrumental in the formation of the ‘Clean Election Law’ and the finance reforms in Massachusetts. However, all her attempts were somehow sabotaged by the ‘Democratic Party.’ She knew that she needed to enter active politics to bring about a concrete change.
In 2002, she officially joined the ‘Green Party’ and was chosen by the party activists to run for the seat of the governor of Massachusetts. Her main competitor was the ‘Republican Party’ candidate Mitt Romney. Many election pundits claimed that Jill was the most educated and the best candidate overall. However, she lost the election.
She later ran for the state representative of the 9th Middlesex District, but she lost the elections again. However, it was a close contest. She received more votes than the ‘Republican Party’ candidate, though she lost to the ‘Democratic Party’ candidate.
In 2005, she ran for the ‘Lexington Town Meeting,’ and this time around, she was elected as a member of the town meeting. She stayed in the position for one more term and quit in 2010, to run for the position of the governor of Massachusetts. However, she could not win this time either.
In 2008, she began an initiative called ‘Secure Green Future,’ through which she attempted to shift subsidies from fossil fuels to green energy and create further jobs in the latter sector. It won more than 81% of votes in 11 districts.
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Owing to her constant efforts toward environmental conservation, she has been honored with several awards. She became the recipient of the ‘Not in Anyone’s Backyard Award’ (awarded by ‘Clean Water Action’), the ‘Toxic Action Center’s ‘Citizen Award,’ and the ‘Children’s Health Hero Award.’
Over time, she has become a household name in the United States and has appeared in many national TV programs, such as ‘The Today Show’ and ‘20/20.’ She has been part of popular talk shows and news channels such as ‘Fox News.’ Additionally, she has also served on the board of ‘Physicians for Social Responsibility.’
She co-published two highly popular reports. The first one, titled ‘In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development,’ was published in 2000. In 2009, she published another report, ‘Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging.’ Both these reports received accolades in the country and abroad. They were also translated into many languages. The reports are often used as community tools by many countries, as they connect the dots between human health and a healthy environment (and green economies).
In August 2011, she confirmed that she would be running for president as a member of the ‘Green Party’ in the 2012 presidential election. She attacked Mitt Romney from the ‘Republican Party’ and Barack Obama from the ‘Democratic Party.’ She said that while Romney was a “wolf in a wolf's clothing,” Obama was a “wolf in a sheep's clothing.” She lost the election after receiving less than 500,000 votes.
Her main agenda revolved around the betterment of the environment and provision of free higher education to all. She claimed that she would work toward developing renewable-energy jobs to tackle the situation. She also mentioned that “free higher education” for all Americans was needed for constructing a better society. Additionally, she also pledged to make America shift completely toward renewable energy by 2030.
She also had a liberal approach toward immigration and stated that immigrants would be encouraged to apply for citizenship.
She also contested the 2016 presidential elections against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. She criticized the two-party election system but ended up losing the election.