Meet John Delaney

A photo of a young John Delaney with his father

Blue-Collar Roots and a Strong Union Family

I grew up in a blue-collar family in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey. My dad was a hardworking, 60-year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, while my mom stayed home to raise my sister and me. Hard work runs in our family. My grandparents came to the United States from Ireland and England, and found jobs in Jersey City, NJ, where one grandfather worked in a pencil factory and the other was a dockworker. My parents instilled that same value of hard work in me. I can’t remember a time as a kid when I wasn’t working during a break from school. I’ve spent summers as a mason and excavation laborer, painter, landscaper, and most often, an electrician’s assistant, working side by side with my dad.

My parents never had the opportunity to attend college. But because of my mother’s influence, and with help from my father’s labor union, I was able to attend and graduate from Columbia University and Georgetown University Law Center. I paid my way through Columbia with the help of scholarships from my dad’s union, IBEW Local 164, as well as the American Legion, VFW, and the Lion’s Club. Like so many Americans, I got a helping hand from others that made all the difference and opened countless doors of opportunity for me. I understand the American Dream, because I have lived it.

Photo of Bruce Springsteen. Author: Obama for America on Flickr - (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Bruce Springsteen photo via Obama for America on Flickr – (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Growing up in New Jersey, I was a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and my favorite song was easily Thunder Road. I’ve now seen The Boss in concert more than 30 times.

 

A Successful Entrepreneur Who Created Two NY Stock Exchange Listed Companies and Thousands of Jobs

After law school, with the help of some great partners, I decided to take a chance and start my own businesses from scratch. By the time I turned 40, I had launched and led two companies that created thousands of jobs, were admired in the community, and were publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. With my first company, I was the youngest CEO on the NYSE. Ringing the bell, I could not have been prouder knowing that the union that helped me pay for college was right across the river. In 2004, I was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and my businesses were voted best places to work – and I was the only former CEO of a publicly traded company serving in the U.S. House of Representatives during my three terms.

“I led my companies with a few simple values: be the hardest worker in the company, lead by example, treat people well, recognize good work, challenge assumptions, build relationships, and be honest and fair.”

CapitalSource, my second company, was headquartered in Montgomery County, MD, and focused on providing loans to small and mid-sized companies, the engines of our economy and the kind of businesses too often ignored by the big banks. For nearly twenty years, we helped more than 5,000 small and mid-sized companies across the United States and employed nearly 2,000 people. To this day, I’m incredibly proud that President Obama’s Treasury Department awarded us the Bank Enterprise Award for our work investing in low-income and economically distressed communities. I was also proud to help start a company that invested in America’s community banks. Looking back on my career as an entrepreneur, I know it was a combination of good luck, hard work, and the blessing of a terrific team that created our success.

My time in business taught me many important skills required to be a successful political leader – management, job creation, strategy, idea generation, communication, and teamwork. But it’s my blue-collar roots, faith, commitment to social justice, and strong progressive values that inspired me to run for Congress and commit my life to public service.

A Leading Voice in Congress On 21st Century Jobs, Education, Veterans Issues, and Infrastructure

I came to Congress after two decades as a successful entrepreneur, innovator, and business and nonprofit leader. My campaign commitments then were the same as they are today: advance progressive values, find solutions and common ground, bring new ideas, and create forward-looking policies that help everyday Americans.

Since taking office in 2012, I’ve introduced large-scale bipartisan legislation on infrastructure, tax reform, social security, and impact investing. I’m proud to be a champion for our veterans, public education and pre-kindergarten, bringing jobs to underserved rural and urban communities, and combating the opioid epidemic. On foreign policy, my work has centered on a strong national defense, strengthening our alliances, and cutting sources of terrorism funding. I believe that the best policy making focuses squarely on the future, so I’ve founded the Artificial Intelligence Caucus and am a founding member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.

Coming from the private sector, I also know that the only way to get things done in Washington is to put aside partisan rhetoric and find common ground. I’m consistently recognized as one of the most bipartisan members of the House of Representatives. And in 2017, my commitment to finding common ground and focusing on smart solutions helped me earn a spot on Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.”

In many ways the district I represented, Maryland’s 6th, is America in miniature, spanning the rolling hills of Western Maryland to the enterprising suburbs of Montgomery County. The challenges and opportunities of the district – from the opioid epidemic to spurring innovation and ensuring the public, private, and nonprofit sectors work well together – are the same ones nationwide. That’s why I’ve worked hard to advance a unifying economic message and to understand the unique challenges and opportunities of rural and urban America.

Community and Faith

April and I have always thought of our lives as one-third learning, one-third earning, and one-third serving. In addition to serving my country as a member of Congress, April and I have also been dedicated to serving our local community and the Catholic Church, whose social justice mission has been the North Star of my life. In 2007, we were honored to be recognized as part of the National Capital Philanthropy Day with the Outstanding Philanthropists Award for the Greater Washington, DC region. We have always believed in investing our time and resources in the community – whether it was our church or our children’s schools or important local and national nonprofits. In 2014, April and I partnered with our alma mater, Georgetown University Law Center, to endow the Hillary Clinton Fellowship and the Delaney Post-Graduate Residency Program. Both programs serve to encourage young lawyers to pursue public interest law and provide significant scholarships to fellows pursuing legal work at organizations like the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, National Women’s Law Center, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and the Sierra Club. In early 2019, we again partnered with Georgetown University Law Center to sponsor a group of law students and professors who traveled to a detention center on U.S.–Mexico border in Dilley, Texas. There, they helped process the cases of mothers and children who were seeking asylum. I’m also proud to have served on the board of directors for outstanding nonprofits that support education, children, and women’s rights, including Georgetown University, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School, the National Symphony Orchestra, Boys & Girls Club, and International Center for Research on Women. Finally, in 2011 I founded Blueprint Maryland, a 501c(3) ideas-based initiative offering a pro-active voice to advocate for private sector economic development and job creation across the diverse regions of my home state.

John's Family His Greatest Accomplishment

My greatest accomplishment, however, is my family. My amazing wife, April, and I met as law students at Georgetown University – I’ll never regret rearranging my entire class schedule just to make sure I was in all the same classes as the smart, beautiful first-year law student from Idaho. The daughter of a potato farmer, April has been my lifelong partner in public service. She is a skilled regulatory lawyer and a nationally recognized advocate for children’s media literacy and women’s empowerment. Most recently, she served as the Washington Director for Common Sense Media and as the immediate past chair of the Georgetown University Law Center’s Board of Directors. April and I also share an unwavering commitment to civility and bipartisanship. She has chaired the Congressional Club First Lady’s Lunch, chaired the last three National Prayer Breakfasts’ “Meeting of Women from the 50 States,” and hosted more than 50 bipartisan events.

We have been blessed with four fantastic daughters – ages 24, 20, 17, and 10 – who are the joys of our lives. As a family, we enjoy the outdoors, and spend many holidays camping and hiking in Idaho where April grew up. Faith is at the very center of our family life. We are active Catholics who are deeply involved in our parish, the Archdiocese of Washington, and Georgetown University. We’ve been lucky to call Maryland home for more than two decades, and live in Montgomery County with our girls and two dogs.