I was born and raised on the Southside of Minneapolis. For the first 11 years of my life I lived in Southwest Minneapolis close to Lake Bde Maka Ska where I taught myself to swim. I am the youngest of three daughters born to a mother and father who were hard, union workers in the labor industry. Watching my parents’ dedication to hard work instilled in me, at a young age, a strong work ethic which is still embedded within me. Around the age of 12 my family and I moved East of 35W into the Phillips neighborhood and, since then, I have lived in the 4th district. Some of my fondest memories include watching the fireworks with friends at Powderhorn Park, walking my children around Lake Nokomis, swimming in Lake Hiawatha and viewing the fall colors along the Mississippi River. The Southside of Minneapolis has always been and continues to be my heart and my home.
My career in public service began almost 20 years ago in 1999 in a very non-traditional way. My first encounter with public service, the start of my career as I see it, began as an applicant for county cash and food assistance. At the time, I was an under-employed single mother of one and expecting another. Applying for and eventually receiving public assistance allowed me to see how the system works. The application process was daunting, the experience was oppressive and confusing. Navigating this system was difficult for me and I imagine other families and individuals found it difficult as well. In fact, I hear stories from participants now that echo my own experiences. Once stable, I began working as a Financial Worker at Hennepin County Human Services in 2001. It was important to me that I work on the other side, using my own experience to help families. What has kept me in public service since then is the importance of changing systems at the macro level in ways that are person-first and seamless for families. I’ve worked at both the state and local levels of government within human services in pursuit of the highest outcomes for families and individuals.