I am a veteran who served 16 years in our armed forces. I started my military career in 1992 when I enlisted in the United States Navy, where as an Avionic Technician, I was the first woman to serve in that command. I was selected into a commissioning program and transferred into the United States Marine Corps. After four years with the Marine Corps I transferred to the Minnesota National Guard where I served as full-time officer. I became the first woman Air Defense officer and first woman commander of the 34th Military Police Company.
In 2008, I left the military and began working for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity where I developed government relationships as an advocate for affordable housing until 2013. Also in 2008 I founded the Women Veterans Initiative, a nonprofit organization advocating for equity in services and developing innovative programs to address the needs of Women Veterans.
I became a program officer for the Veterans Voices Program with the Minnesota Humanities Center in 2013. In this role, I developed programs to bridge the relationship divide between military and civilians. In 2016, I successfully passed legislation that declared October Veterans Voices Month in Minnesota. Veteran Voices month furthered awareness and recognition for veterans across the state.
Currently, I am a principal aide to District 1 Ramsey County Commissioner, and work part-time as Development Director for Journey Home Minnesota. Journey Home Minnesota is a statewide nonprofit that serving families and victims of domestic violence by providing safe and stable housing. It also works with military veterans and their families who are rebuilding their lives or experiencing hardships.
My husband Hector and I have five sons, Taavo, 20; Hunter, 18; Kaelen, 15; Soren, 9; and Aren, 7. We live in the Payne/Phalen Neighborhood.