Thanks for getting to know me!
I’ve lived in Minneapolis my whole life. Minneapolis has given me so many opportunities, and I’m very grateful for that. Serving on the Park Board is simply a way for me to give back to a city that has given me so much.
I’d love to hear from you! Send me a message.
My Path to the Parks
Being raised in the urban core of a city — even Minneapolis — by a single parent can be difficult. My mom worked incredibly hard to give me a comfortable childhood, but despite her best efforts I went down wrong paths. I dropped out of high school, ran away from home for a short time and generally struggled through adolescence. Looking back, it was the public and nonprofit employees at Minneapolis rec centers, public schools, and the Bridge for Runaway Youth that helped me get back on the right path. I have not forgotten what they gave me.
I worked full-time to pay my way through college and grad school. A year of service in AmeriCorps, working with at-risk youth in North Minneapolis sparked my interest in public service. It was so humbling to me to see all the second chances that I received growing up while so many youth in our city barely have first chances. Since then, I have passionately committed my career to working with populations at risk. Today, I help run a small non-profit and help bring resources to those that are less fortunate that you and I.
In 2009, the Park Board was considering closing a rec center. Because many of the youth I worked with relied on as a safe place to go after school, I decided to run for Park Board. I was a political novice, but I had a conviction that our parks should serve everyone. I had little chance of winning. But with the help of many neighbors and friends, I was elected to serve southwest Minneapolis on the Park and Recreation Board.
Serving on the Park Board has been incredibly rewarding and humbling. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done, from creating a sustainable funding plan for neighborhood parks, preserving the independence of the park board, improving neighborhood playgrounds, investing in a new regional park along the riverfront, and so much more. I get to spend time in our parks every day, and have the honor of working with so many wonderful neighbors and volunteers.
One of the best things about being on the Park Board is that it isn’t all work! It goes without saying that I’m healthier because of this job. I spend time in our parks running and biking along our trails as well as swimming and sailing on Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun). But I also spend some of my time outside of parks. I spend my free time acting in community theater, fixing old houses and volunteering for local non-profits. My brother and sister and I take care of our mom who recently moved into an memory care facility.
Just a few accomplishments I’m proud of
Made Minneapolis more FUN
- bringing swimming docks back to our lakes
- creating new scholarship programs that allow inner-city kids to learn to swim, sail, and cross-country ski
- bringing much needed repairs to playgrounds, wading pools, tennis courts and fields in Southwest Minneapolis
- creating “open swim” areas in our lakes
GREENER and HEALTHIER parks
- working on ordinance changes to make all Park Board events zero-waste
- requiring more healthy options in our park vending machines
- making playgrounds, fields and gardens Tobacco-Free
- working to create an urban agriculture policy to allow community gardening in parks
- creating strong policies to stop the spread of invasive species in our lakes
STEWARDSHIP of your tax dollars
- Streamlining management and shifting savings to our park keepers, front line employees, and vital infrastructure upgrades
- working on anti-bullying policies in coordination with the Minneapolis Public Schools
- ensuring that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board passed a resolution opposing the divisive amendments limiting the freedom to marry
- supporting efforts to keep events like Pride and the Big Gay Race in Minneapolis Parks
- reconstructing the Linden Hills wading pool and tennis courts
- bringing new athletic fields to Pershing Park
- securing over $250,000 for playground improvements at Martin Luther King Park
- creating the only off-leash dog park in southwest Minneapolis
- creating the framework for an Urban Conservation Corps in Minneapolis to engage hundreds of Minneapolis youth and young adults in much needed work for the parks, while preparing them with the high-level skills necessary to compete for great jobs here in Minneapolis
- increasing opportunities for young adults to volunteer in our parks
I’m proud of the work I’ve done for our Parks, but there is so much work left to do. Moving forward, these are the issues that we need to prioritize.
Park Programming That Meets the Diverse Needs of Minneapolis– Our city is very different than it was even just a few years ago. We have more elderly in our community and new, vibrant communities that enrich our city. I’ll continue to invest in new park programming that engage new communities and provide recreational opportunities for everyone in Minneapolis. I’m focusing on building a workforce reflective of our city, community gardens, free swimming lessons and culturally specific programming.
Environmental Sustainability– When I first started on the Park Board, recycling and sustainable practices were a novelty in parks and events. I’ve helped put together a plan to ensure all events in Minneapolis Parks will be required to recycle by 2014. Moving forward, I’ll push for even more energy efficiency improvements in our rec centers, buildings, and work to improve fleet efficiency
Keep Rec Centers Open– Over the next 2-3 years, the Park Board will be having serious conversations about the role of rec centers in our community. Growing up in our rec centers, I know how important they are to every neighborhood and I will fight to keep every rec center open.
Hold the Line on Privatization– More and more often, private businesses influence park activities. Some partnerships are effective, others chip away at the independence of the Park Board. I will continue to work to make sure that partnerships the Park Board enters into are always in your best interest.
Defend Against Aquatic Invasive Species– Several years ago, inaction allowed our chain of lakes to be overrun by milfoil. I hope to continue the work I’ve spearheaded to defend the lakes against zebra mussels and other aquatic invasives.
Increase Philanthropic Giving and Volunteerism– Since being on the Park Board, I’ve increased community service in our parks by nearly 20,000 hours and have established a framework for a Minneapolis Conservation Corps. I’ve also worked on partnerships with local businesses to help fundraise for youth programs in our parks. Moving forward, you’ll see more opportunities to volunteer for our parks and support them financially.