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.