I grew up in southern Arizona with three sisters – daughters of a mentally-ill mother who often struggled with debilitating symptoms and an inability to properly care for her children. We sisters learned early about both the power of self-reliance and community safety nets when human needs overwhelm human capacities. I and my sisters all worked hard – and all benefitted from community support when we most needed it – to achieve successful adult lives. I understand first-hand the value of supportive communities for vulnerable community members.
I was fortunate to be educated by great public universities. In 1994, I graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in History. From there, I moved to Michigan where I graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1997 with a J.D. in Law. For the past 21 years, I have practiced immigration law in Arizona, Washington state and now Minnesota. My career in law has included working with corporations bringing professionals to the U.S. from around the world as well as working with individuals and families seeking family ties or just freedom. My law practice has given me further insight into the complexities of our country as a nation of immigrants, and respect for the difficulties in achieving equity and justice among disparate groups of people.
I have lived in St. Anthony Village for the past six years, and have enjoyed many wonderful relationships in this close-knit community. I am a community activist on numerous issues in St. Anthony and am a founding member of St. Anthony Villagers for Community Action (SAVCA), a grassroots organization that advocates for social justice, equity and inclusivity. I was also a member of SAVCA’s Police Advisory Committee (PAC), a group that has been instrumental in pushing for greater citizen oversight of and transparency from the St. Anthony Police Department. With SAVCA’s help, the PAC was able to guide our mayor and city council to engage in a significant reform audit of our police department, leading directly to a voluntary review by the U.S. Department of Justice.
I have also run for both city council and mayor of St. Anthony, in 2017 and 2019 respectively. While I did not win these races, I gained a deep understanding of the needs of our region and have come to appreciate the energy and commitment it takes to run for and be elected to office. I spent countless hours door knocking in St. Anthony and feel a solid connection to my community as a result.
I strongly believe in civic engagement and volunteering where I live. From 1998 to 2001 I was a board member of my homeowner’s association in Tucson, Arizona. In 2006, I was named an “Extraordinary Citizen” by the City of Tucson for my work on the Tucson Commission on LGBT Issues. After moving to Washington State, from 2009 to 2012, I was a board member and board president of the Montessori School of Pullman, WA. From 2010 to 2014 I was a board member and board president of Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, a domestic violence prevention organization in Washington state. I have contributed numerous hours as a volunteer attorney. I continue to practice immigration law here in Minnesota where I have given to my community in pro bono legal services. My philosophy on life is to be actively involved in the community around me, always working for the greater good.