For those of you who have not met me, there are three things you should know:
- I live in the Uptown neighborhood in Southwest Minneapolis with my husband Bart, a public school English teacher, and my stepdaughter Mia, a recent college graduate.
- In my time as a State Representative, and on the Hennepin County Board, I have gained a reputation as an innovative, solutions-oriented progressive and coalition builder.
- Hennepin County is a diverse and vibrant collection of neighborhoods and cities with a unique set of needs. To ensure that all voices are heard, my working agenda has been intentionally guided by community leaders with the emphasis of increasing equity, and strengthening families.
A Quick Sketch
As a legislator, county commissioner, and throughout my professional career, public outreach, social justice, and good governance have been the themes that drive me.
These passions have served me and my constituencies well in my time as an elected, but I will never forget one night in particular on the Minnesota House floor in 2011, when Republicans succeeded in putting the anti-marriage anti-equality constitutional amendment on the ballot. I was devastated, and shocked at the possibility and that any legislation that increases disparities was going to be voted on. That moment deepened my understanding of my role in the movement and doing everything I can to protect and serve all those who have chosen me to represent them in government.
As dark that as that moment was, and remembering how helpless I felt, what stands out the most from that night was when I walked out of the chamber, the Capitol was absolutely flooded with advocates chanting, “We’ve just begun to fight!” I couldn’t hear the person next to me as chorus continued to ring out. Their courage and commitment in the face of adversity proved to me that this work, particularly at the Hennepin County Board, is driven by advocacy and engagement, just as it was when I first began working in politics.
I began my career in Washington DC at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). I built coalitions for nutrition policy in health care reform, and led a project to establish national organic standards – now, when we go to the grocery store, we see that labeling in place. I also worked for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, focusing on constituent service and grassroots organizing on human rights issues.
These two jobs were my first, straight out of college. They started me on a path to a career in public outreach, social justice, and building the progressive network. Prior to moving to Minnesota, I worked in New Mexico, as the Field Director for the Clinton-Gore ’96 campaign, focusing on innovative partnerships in the Latinx and Navajo communities in an effort to engage people in the political process.
After building a large network of first-time voters and tracking what issues were most important to them, I took a position as a Democratic Caucus analyst, assigned to New Mexico’s House of Representatives Voters and Elections Committee, providing policy advice to legislators for protecting and expanding voting rights – a commitment that has shaped my platform since.
I came to Minnesota after finishing my MBA, and became a health finance expert at Guidant (now part of Boston Scientific) and St. Jude Medical. At the same time, I got involved in advancing progressive causes locally and in 2010 was elected to the state legislature.
I was elected to the county board in a special election in 2014, and then won re-election that very same fall. In my first term as county commissioner I’ve felt an enormous sense of possibility and accomplishment. Working together with stakeholders, advocates, and other electeds at every level, to fight for equity in our communities as well as to take on every challenge thrown at us by Washington DC, has been awe-inspiring. Together, we make our community and world better, and fairer.