I consider myself to be an "all-Iowan" girl. My dad was a United Methodist minister, which meant my family moved frequently when I was young, and I have no real hometown of my own. I was born in Creston and lived in ten different towns before graduating from Davenport Central High School. The places I lived gave me a broad understanding of the variety of Iowa's experiences and communities. From living in Fremont, a town of about 750 people in Mahaska County, during the Farm Crisis, to seeing the current urban revitalization of Des Moines, I have seen Iowans go through loss and embrace opportunity, in both rural and urban areas.
I attended Grinnell College, where I majored in French and learned to align my vocational interests with my commitment to social justice. Instead of participating in a traditional study abroad program, I secured grant funding to work and study in Haiti on two occasions. On one of those occasions, I spent the summer working with volunteer teams from the U.S. in summer school programs, and on another I conducted independent research about the impacts of educating children in French as opposed to their native language of Creole.
I continued my studies in French at the University of Virginia, where I earned my M.A. I then spent several years in Virginia teaching in public schools in rural counties. I taught high school Spanish in addition to middle school and high school French. During my final year of teaching, I worked with another Spanish teacher and a local Walmart Distribution Center to begin an evening ESL program for employees that was held at shift-change with no cost to the students.
I came back to Iowa to attend law school at Drake University. During law school, I began to apply my new professional skills to issues of economic justice. I started volunteering at Iowa Legal Aid during my first year of law school and continued to do so until graduation. I also developed an interest in consumer lending, and my research lead to being the first student ever invited to speak at the National Consumer Law Center's annual litigation conference in Washington, D.C. in 2007, on the topic of toxic mortgages.
Immediately following law school, I worked at a law firm in Washington, D.C., where I represented individual and institutional investors in securities fraud litigation. During the financial crisis, the cases I worked on included one against IndyMac based on mortgage-lending practices and another against a company that had invested union pension funds with Bernie Madoff. I also got to pursue my interests in social justice with pro bono human rights work, including assisting with a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing against the admissibility of evidence from Guantánamo detainees that was allegedly obtained by torture.
I returned home to Iowa in 2010 and have worked for six years at the Office of Consumer Advocate, a division of the Department of Justice that represents customers' interests on public utilities issues. My work at OCA includes representing ratepayers in gas, electric, and water cases; working to develop standards for maintaining reliable telecommunications services in rural areas; and serving on the Dual Party Relay Council, which advises the Iowa Utilities Board about the equipment distribution program and relay service for Iowans with communications impairments.
I'm an animal lover and have a soft spot for animal rescue. While in Virginia, I volunteered transport services for Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue. Since then I have continued to volunteer by fostering, and of course adopting, rescued animals. I currently have two dogs and two cats. My dog Duncan and I are a certified team with Therapy Dogs International and volunteer our time at a variety of locations to spread compassion.
In the last few years, I have found physical and emotional strength by training for and participating in triathlons. In the early morning hours before work, you may see me swimming at the John R. Grubb Community YMCA, running in the Drake neighborhood with my dog Eddie, or biking through downtown Des Moines during my commute.
My husband Kevin and I have been together for three years. I am happy to be in the role of step-mother to his three children.