Jane Dovidio-Gagliardo was born on April 6, 1953 in Warren, Ohio where she grew up in a large Italian family. Jane, an avid believer in human rights, marched for civil rights, women’s right to choose and the right to be heard. This is where she met her high-school sweetheart, John Gagliardo. After marring John at the age of 17 and giving birth to their first son seven months later, Jane became a dedicated stay-at-home housewife and mother. As the years went on and they were blessed with two more sons, Jane became completely committed to the growth and wellbeing of her family. Becoming a class mom, member of the PTA and coordinator of her children’s school fund-raising events gave her life an added sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
Jane also became an active member of the East Stroudsburg Youth Association Board of Directors, Commissioner of Cheerleading, Secretary for the Football Mother’s Association, and later President. She also volunteered at St. Matthews Catholic Church with organizational fund- raising and educational programs. Jane also helped to raise money for St. Jude’s Children Hospital by conducting Bike-A-Thons and bringing attention to the Small Business Association throughout her community for donations. She was always interested in and participated, on some level, in local politics as well as community affairs. Passionate about making sure the voices of people with disabilities was heard, Jane continue to be an active force toward this goal. In the early 1980’s Jane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, thus, giving her an even greater sense of importance to championing the rights of people with disabilities.
In 1987 Jane took a full-time position at a large local pharmaceutical company and in 1996 she was dismissed from her job. The company claimed her being let go was due to her performance, but Jane knew it was because of her disability and took legal action against the company. In 2002, advocating for herself, she had her day in a Federal courtroom. Following a week-long trial a 12-person jury found in Jane’s favor and determined she, in fact, was terminated because of her disability. The case of Gagliardo vs. Connaught Laboratories became a landmark case. It changed the law under the Americans With Disability Act. Her story of taking on a large international pharmaceutical company became big news. Shortly, thereafter, she met Sherry Blackman, a journalist, who felt it essential to tell Jane’s story in a book they titled “Call To Witness,” written in collaboration with Jane, her attorney Patrick Reilly and Jane’s Children. The book was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize and has won numerous awards including The Pocono Image Award. Jane has been invited to tell her story throughout the country. “Call To Witness” has also received rave reviews on Amazon and several other book reviews.
Jane’s achievements and accolades are numerous, but the woman she is today cannot be measured by anything other than her genuineness and heartfelt commitment to achieving equal rights for all members of the human family. She is the grandmother of six wonderful grandchildren who she enjoys spending time with and seeing life through their eyes. Jane is currently working on several children’s books which she hopes to soon complete and publish.