I am a proud resident of the South District along with my husband Duane, my kids Christopher and Andrea, and our menagerie of lazy rescue cats, cockatiels, and love birds (really!). I am technically a transplant Iowan, having grown up in Michigan and then living in New York City for 8 years, but I have called Iowa City home for 25 years, making my roots pretty deep.
Like many people here, I came to Iowa City for graduate school. I earned my Ph.D. in 19th-C British Literature, and went on to teach in the English Department, the Sexuality Studies Program, and the Saturday/Evening program as a Visiting Professor. Before that, I was an “inadvertent” graduate student at New York University–I say “inadvertent” because I mainly earned my Master’s degree so that I could continue my NCAA eligibility in springboard diving. My first year of graduate school, I earned All-American honors on the one-meter and came this close to earning the same on three-meter. I haven’t been on the boards in 20 years, but can still do a decent hurdle and line-up! Not bad for someone bone-quakingly afraid of heights (no joke).
The wide-ranging activities I took part in as a graduate student–from diving team captain to scholar to student union advocate to bartender at The Que Bar back in the day–set up a pattern that continues today: I constantly and consistently participate in my community and bring community awareness to my job at ACT. I’ve done so for years. At ACT, outside of my usual work as a senior manager in the English Language Arts area, I served on the Corporate Giving Committee for two years and served for a third as the committee’ s chair, overseeing 120K annual budget. I also volunteered as an events leader for the ACT United Way Drive for two years and then was asked to co-chair the entire drive. (I am reprising that role this year as well, a true honor!) My engagement outside of work is more varied, with interests that influence and inform each other: women’s needs, my neighborhood, community safety, underserved students, access to the performing arts, and affordable housing. Most recently, as a co-founder of student micro-hubs during COVID called Neighborhood NESTS (Nurturing Every Student Together Safely), I was able to see the acute ongoing need for progress in these areas and to address them.
All of these activities sum me up well: active and passionate. I don’t go into anything halfway and I volunteer for these groups and am appointed to commissions and leadership roles because I believe in the power of local effort and action. I am proud that work I’ve done on the Housing and Community Development Commission is now part of the City government’s tool kit to address affordable housing and equity, namely the homeownership partnership program, which offers long-time renters the opportunity to purchase their units. As a part of the leadership committee on the South District Neighborhood Association, I am proud of the work we did as a group. The SDNA crowdsourced the funds and then organized the design and execution of the largest mural in Iowa City: the back of Pepperwood Plaza, which was painted by the entire neighborhood during the height of COVID and the BLM protests. It was the perfect place for healing, community, and joy in the midst of important, difficult conversations and actions. We also have a robust annual clean-up and gardening event that went from pulling out overgrown shrubs on Broadway Street with eight people the first year to three different locations and over 50 people this past April. Large problems can be solved one step at a time while still moving quickly in conjunction with community and municipal efforts.