Early careerBorn in Cologne, Reker worked as legal counsel for the State Association of Guild Health Insurance Funds in Münster from 1992 until 2000.
Political careerFrom 2000 until 2010, Reker served as deputy mayor for Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection of Gelsenkirchen. In 2010 she was appointed a mayoral deputy for social affairs, integration and the environment of the city of Cologne. Supported by the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, CDU, Free Democratic Party (Germany), FDP, and Alliance '90/The Greens, The Greens, Reker ran for List of mayors of Cologne, Mayor of Cologne in October 2015 and was re-elected in September 2020.
Assassination attemptAt a public event on 17 October 2015, the day before the mayoral election, Reker was seriously wounded when a 44-year-old man stabbed her in the neck with a knife, while shouting about an "influx of refugees". State prosecutors confirmed the attack to be politically motivated, after the perpetrator "confessed to having xenophobia, xenophobic motives at the uncontrolled influx of migrants". As a member of Cologne's municipal administration, Reker had been responsible for the housing and integration of refugees. Her aide was also hurt in the attack, as were three other people who had tried to subdue her attacker. Reker's main rival in the mayoral election, Social Democrat Jochen Ott, suspended his campaign after the attack. Reker won the election while remaining in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. Federal prosecutors soon took over the case from state prosecutors in Cologne on grounds of the particularly dangerous nature of the stabbing, which came against the backdrop of a rising tide of attacks on accommodations for refugees in Germany. In late October, they charged a 44-year-old German man with attempted murder and dangerous bodily harm. At the time, the authorities said the perpetrator was driven by his anger over Reker's work on the refugee issue.
New Year's Eve sexual assaults on womenReker was accused of victim blaming following New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany, the attacks at Cologne's 2016 New Year's Eve celebrations. She claimed that "there's always the possibility of keeping a certain distance of more than an arm's length – that is to say to make sure yourself you don't look to be too close to people who are not known to you, and to whom you don't have a trusting relationship". Reker was condemned by Lodewijk Asscher, Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, for implying that women could have prevented the attacks against themselves. Reker accused the media of taking her comments out of context: she claimed that she had only reacted to a reporter's question by quoting an existing communal guideline for safety during partying in a speech.
Corporate boards* Cologne Bonn Airport, ex-officio member of the supervisory board * Koelnmesse, ex-officio chairwoman of the supervisory board * NRW.BANK, member of the advisory board * Rheinenergie, member of the advisory board * RWE, member of the advisory board * Stadtwerke Köln, ex-officio member of the supervisory board
Non-profit organizations* 1. FC Köln, member of the advisory board (since 2019) * Theodor Heuss Foundation, member of the board of trustees (since 2019) * Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM), member of the board of trustees * Technical University of Cologne, member of the board of trustees * Stiftung Lebendige Stadt, member of the board of trustees * German Society for Photography (DGPh), member * Kölnische Karnevalsgesellschaft, member * Soroptimist International (SI), Member