Jacqueline Romero, 200 years in the making, formally installed as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
She is the Commonwealth’s 40th U.S. Attorney in its Eastern District, taking the mantle from Bill McSwain, and a long line of men before her.
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The James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse just outside the premises of Independence Hall in Philadelphia stood on Friday, Oct. 14, for Jacqueline Romero’s investiture as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The oath of office was administered to Romero by District Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, an Obama appointee of Puerto Rican descent.
The ceremony follows Romero’s nomination for the top-dog legal role in 2021, by President Joe Biden, with protocol presided over by Judge Eduardo Robreno, a senior District judge in the same region Romero will oversee.
And indeed, Romero’s appointment is the result of 200 years of American history, whereupon 46 presidents served terms, and no woman had been nominated, lest appointed, into the office of the U.S. Attorney.
“Jackie Romero is the first in many respects, to have been nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, deserving of the US Attorney’s office in this district,” said Nelson Thayer, First Assistant United States Attorney.
Her story begins in a quaint New Jersey diner, where, as Romero recalls, she acquired the work ethic that has made all continued achievements possible. In her legal career, Romero tackled private practice straight out of law school and later went on to serve in U.S. Justice Department as a litigator for the department’s commercial litigation arm.
After a five-year stint in Academia, Romero returned to the Justice Department, where she worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 16 years before she was nominated by the president, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
“Bendícela, protégela, elévela. Como ejemplo, como modelo, como mujer en el pueblo hispáno,” preached Reverend Luis A. Cortés Jr., who delivered the invocation speech. (“Bless her, protect her, elevate her. As an example, as a model, as a woman in the Hispanic community.”)
Cortés has previously offered invocations for former presidents George W. Bush, in 2005, and Barack Obama, in 2013. The reverend acknowledged Romero’s partner and family before he concluded his remarks.
Romero’s investiture, beyond a formal proceeding, was a gathering of old friends, like Michele C. Meyer-Shipp, whom Romero teasingly referred to as her “ride-or-die.”
Meyer-Shipps, CEO of Dress for Success, a women’s empowerment advocacy organization was the third speaker in the ceremony, a longtime friend of Romero, whose relationship became the center of her speech.
“You are very lucky,” Meyer-Shipps said of Romero’s ascension to the U.S. Attorney’s office. “I don’t know if you even have appreciated how lucky you are yet,” Meyer-Shipps added.
Romero and Meyer-Shipps met in law school, and have since maintained a friendship that reached the halls of the courthouse where Romero accepted her tremendous appointment.
The U.S. Attorney’s close friend also addressed Romero’s parents, while attributing much of the successes she’s attained to them.
“There is no doubt in my mind that it was your wisdom, your guidance, and your unconditional love and support that empowered [Jacqueline Romero] to navigate the magnificent and successful career journey that she’s had, that has us here today,” Meyers-Shipp said.
The final speaker, prior to the reading of the presidential commission, was Romero’s mother, also named Jacqueline Romero, who read her speech with her husband’s assistance, Romero’s father.
Romero’s mother reflected on her daughter’s career, which she joked began when she was just six years of age. And throughout professional highlights, Romero Sr. has remained a stoic figure upon which the U.S. Attorney bestows her gratitude.
When Romero received the call for the nomination, Romero told AL DÍA she called her mom first.
“I get emotional even talking about it. You know, my grandparents were laborers. My grandmother cleaned other people’s toilets. My dad flipped burgers in our family Diner. That phone call was very emotional to say that I got this job,” the U.S. Attorney said to AL DÍA in a previous interview.
“It is very fitting that during the Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate Jacqueline Romero’s confirmation and proclamation as the first Latina to the position of United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,” said District Judge Quiñones Alejandro, before bestowing upon Romero the Oath of Office.
Like Romero, Quiñones Alejandro is also a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The final speech was delivered by Romero, who attributed a sizeable portion of her remarks to effect gratitude on the people, she says, made it possible for her to receive investiture. She also reflected on her standing.
“So many parts of my life story resonate with so many communities. Whether it’s people who come from an immigrant background, whether it’s someone who is first-generation college, public school educated, member of the LGBTQ Community, the love keeps coming,” Romero said.
Her appointment is the result of a streak of firsts in Romero’s life in the same respect she outlined in her speech. Born to Spanish immigrants, Romero worked in the family-owned diner during her formative years.
“I shouldn’t say [the firm] taught me a work ethic, the likes of which most people will never experience in this lifetime 'cause I had that. I grew up in a diner. When you have a family business, the work never ends. Whether it’s midnight or 4 a.m., stuff needs to get done,” Romero said in a previous interview.
Backed by a $25 million budget, Romero hopes to tackle rising gun violence, fentanyl trafficking, and crack down on domestic terrorism, according to a 6abc interview. But outside of the court, she hopes to strengthen alliances gone awry during her predecessor’s term and solidify the community she will serve.