Growing up on a farm in rural Iowa taught me a lot about hard work, commitment, sacrifice and community. After attending college in Chicago, I met and fell in love with my husband Luke, and we moved to Bristol, Wisconsin. Here I found that familiar sense of home in a community that shares the values that we wish to instill in our children. Luke and I, along with our three young boys and our crazy but lovable dog Max, couldn’t be happier to call this home.
I have a BA in Psychology with a focus on Substance Abuse, but like a lot of people, I feel my greatest education has come from life experiences. When my oldest son started school, I was eager to be involved in his education, so I started volunteering in the classroom and eventually joined the PTA where I served as an elected officer for 3 years. Working with school administrators and educators has been both rewarding and eye-opening, and collaborating with so many of my friends and neighbors to creating meaningful, educational events for the students has been incredible.
A few years ago, I recognized a need in the community for something that could bring people together and create opportunities for dialogue and education. In late 2016, I, along with three other women, formed a community organization called Forward Kenosha. I am incredibly proud of all that we have accomplished by working with local officials to create educational opportunities on subjects like addiction and civic engagement as well as collaborating with other grassroots organizations to do voter registration and provide training on a variety of other issues.
The momentum and determination of the organization quickly began receiving attention locally and then nationally. In early 2017, I shared my personal story of how a preventative screening I had received at Planned Parenthood detected early signs of cervical cancer. The access to this screening allowed me to be treated in time to prevent an outcome that would have almost certainly meant I would not have been able to have children later in life. Being empowered to share my story has allowed the opportunity to advocate for access to safe affordable healthcare both locally and nationally when I was invited to testify before the United States Senate committee on health care. These experiences have taught me so much about myself, and most importantly about the importance of connecting with and empowering others to speak out for the values that connect us all. I’ve since been fortunate to continue my advocacy as a community organizer.
I have been blessed in so many ways, from being raised by a loving family and supportive community, to now creating that space for my own children, and by the connection and friendship forged with people from all walks of life that have challenged and expanded the way in which I view the world.