I grew up on Minneapolis’ Eastside—I am intimately familiar with the many great qualities that make our community unique and the range of challenges we face. After graduating from Edison High School, I went on to college and spent several years working abroad as a teacher and curriculum specialist. When I returned home to the Eastside 20 years ago to pursue graduate work in Public Administration and to raise my daughter, I became distinctly aware of the lack of investment in our community, housing and commercial blight, and pollution that had resulted from generations of industrial land use. I was compelled to take action. I found an early outlet in sustainability work—volunteering and working for organizations like Citizens for a Better Environment, organizing for environmental justice, and fighting the pollution of our Mississippi River.
My activism turned full-time when I became Project Director of the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association (HNIA), where I was responsible for improving the neighborhood that had suffered the highest level of generational industrial pollution in the First Ward. In that role, I learned the power of leveraging public resources by partnering with the City, County, State, and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board while making significant improvements in pollution remediation, housing stock, local, equitable economic development, and youth empowerment. During that time, I also spearheaded the Solar Townhomes, which were the first sustainable housing developments of their kind in the Eastside, served as a founding Board member of the Eastside Food Co-op, and co-founded the P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (Public Engagement and Community Empowerment).
Eight years ago, I applied the skills, experience, and success I had built serving this community to the broader arena of policymaking, where I’ve had the honor of serving as the First Ward Council Member. I am grateful to represent the community I grew up in and to serve in key leadership positions of our city that are focused on so many of our community’s needs: affordable housing, support for the arts, environmental sustainability, transportation planning (bike routes and alternative transit), and public works and infrastructure.
I am privileged to chair the Transportation & Public Works Committee, which oversees the core services that impact our daily life in the city— access to multi-modal transportation options, clean drinking water, functional streets and sidewalks, and a sustainable solid waste and recycling program. Infrastructure and service delivery are core functions of municipal government and I am proud of my accomplishments, particularly in forging multi-generational funding for Complete Streets—a plan that allows us to improve the base level of acceptable road conditions and move forward with multi-modal planning and community beautification.
I also represent the City of Minneapolis at the Met Council, with a seat on both the Executive Committee of the Transportation Advisory Board, and the committee that oversees Hennepin County’s funding priorities. These multi-jurisdictional connections have helped leverage resources for the City of Minneapolis and more importantly, the First Ward.
As Board Chair of the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO), headquartered at the foot of the Lowry Bridge, I’ve had the opportunity to form partnerships and build unique sustainability projects like the Northeast Green Campus at Edison High School, improve our water quality, and implement innovative green technologies. This collaboration between the MWMO, Minneapolis Public Schools and Ward 1 neighborhood organizations has also resulted in access to valuable sustainability education resources for students and the Ward 1 community.
While much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. I remain committed and inspired every day to continue the substantial progress we’ve made together as a community in the First Ward.
More notable achievements for the First Ward and the City during my tenure as Council Member:
Affordable housing dollars more than doubled citywide; accelerated growth in Ward 1 with the city’s first ever housing development for artists and their families at Jackson Flats
- Created new career pathways in Public Works and the Fire Department that diversify our city workforce and improve access to good jobs; first class of graduates included 91% people of color and over 50% female
- Fought for the return of $9 million in citywide neighborhood funding, with significant impact in Ward 1 revitalization projects
- Secured two new trucks (ladder and engine) and increased staffing for the Fire Department’s Station 15 in Ward 1 to address much needed resources
- Advised on developing the city’s first ever Complete Streets policy, putting pedestrians, bicycles and public transit first in all transportation planning
- Proactively authored a resolution opposing a national registry of personal data, fighting against potential discrimination based on race, religion, or sexual orientation
- Facilitated establishing a 20-year dedicated street funding plan, which will bring much needed repairs to Ward 1, including 6 miles of cement work in Waite Park—the largest cement repair investment in Minneapolis in decades
- Provided leadership in crafting the city’s new Comprehensive Plan, which governs all future development and embodies the vision for the city
- Co-authored the dedicated Percent for Art ordinance with Council Member Glidden, providing annual dedicated public art funding citywide
- Celebrated an unprecedented reduction in crime, coupled by historically positive law enforcement and citizen engagement in the Second Precinct, which covers Ward 1