My Story

America’s deeply flawed racial construct made itself known to me while growing up in a middle class white suburb in the eighties as I noticed the troubling patterns of injustice for people of color. Beneath the obvious and overt racism I witnessed everyday occurrences of racialized mindset—​such as comments like “roll up your windows in the black neighborhood”—​that were so common they seemed to go largely unnoticed by my white community. This ‘un-noticing’ spoke as loudly as the incidents themselves. It sparked a stirring inside me early to focus my life’s work on racial justice. 

North Minneapolis Journey
I am a co-founder and former COO of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), a collaborative initiative that is uncovering solutions in North Minneapolis. I helped develop strategies which are yielding results today. At NAZ, I began to develop a lifelong reflection and learning commitment. I believe white leaders in systems where race and poverty intersect must engage with awareness to ensure patterns of white dominance are broken and opportunities for people of color to influence are expanded.

Work and Wellbeing
After 16 years, I left NAZ to find my own work-life balance. I graduated from the University of Minnesota, Humphrey School with an MPA where I focused on human centered design and learned tools and methods to augment what I experienced in North Minneapolis. I began to understand that I am an emergent strategist – I see how small shifts can become the stepping stones for big change if we hold them together in relationship.

Human-Centered Approaches
My next big project was helping to launch the Rock Equity Project. In this transformational change effort in the Rock County, Wisconsin Human Services Department, I worked for three years to build a team of lived experts to influence systems change in their child welfare services. We asked child welfare staff to humble themselves to the community and to see their work through the eyes of those most impacted by social service systems. By anchoring organizations in human centered approaches, we can solve big problems together.

The Round-ness of Things
I’m photographed here with my favorite painting. It’s been on a wall in every home I’ve lived since 2005. I purchased it from an art show at the first annual PEACE Ball — an event that helped launch the organization which would eventually create NAZ. We brought people together across divides of race, class and geography with a vision for reducing violence in North Minneapolis. At this first event, we expected 300 people and had 600. As people waited down the sidewalk in unexpected lines to get in, local musicians attending the event began playing in the street. This unexpected gathering put us on a path. Our mission of preventing violence turned into a vision for getting Northside youth on a path to college. I believe in the round-ness of things. When we soften our sharp edges, when we put our ideas out into the world and let them come full circle, when we lean into each other in our strengths and our human imperfections — all things are possible.


I cultivate gratitude and counting my blessings. This practice has changed me from the inside out.


I seek the pause and work to engage in each experience so I can better understand others around me.


I look for the connections around me. The more I see, the more I know I'm on a path.

Minneapolis, MN

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