My Story: Why I'm Running
I am a college professor, active community leader, and a mom who believes that when local government leaders take a pragmatic approach to solving problems we create the kind of vital democracies capable of withstanding crisis and improving the lives of all. I have lived in Hennepin County for 14 years, and moved to Edina with my husband (a physician and public health researcher) when my family found our dream home -- a house on the hill, in the woods, with a block full of children. Hennepin County is a national leader in innovation, serving people, and addressing climate change. As the District 6 County Commissioner I will ensure we continue that tradition of excellence and meet today's challenges with honesty and courage in order to prioritize policies that make us safer and healthier.
Childhood: My Heroes
My beloved grandmother was a Japanese immigrant who instilled the values of independence, hard work, devotion to family, and tenacity. I saw firsthand the sorrows of being separated from loved ones by oceans, and deeply admired my grandmother's dignity in the face of discrimination. I also grew up in a social worker's house where conversations with my dad about our duties to care for others was the dinner table talk. I know first hand the impacts that mental health has on families. My dad had to raise three girls on his own because of my mother's mental health struggles. He was able to do this in part because of a good public employee job. Dad didn't make enough for us to take vacations but we did have good health care and parental time off, and that made all the difference. When Covid-19 hit I begged him to do work remotely, but he told me that his clients were people abandoned by society -- many of them live month to month between homelessness and shelter and he would never stop showing up for them.
I have an undergraduate degree in peace and conflict resolution from American University where I graduated from the Honors Program magna cum laude, worked for the Islamic Center for Peace, and lived in South Africa to learn about the truth and reconciliation commission. At the University of Colorado School of Law I served as editor for the International Environmental Law and Policy Journal, worked for the Natural Resources Center, and was named Federal Indian student attorney of the year. Afterwards I clerked for Justice Brian Boatright (CO Supreme Court) when he was a district court judge. Ultimately law school brought up more questions than answers for me, so I moved to Minneapolis for a PhD in comparative literature and cultural studies from the UMN where I examined the relationship between the atomic bombing of Hiroshima alongside the internment of Japanese Americans. Though I am not a brilliant linguist I do love learning other languages and have studied Spanish, Afrikaans, Xhosa, French, German, and can get around in Japanese.
Since becoming a mother I have dedicated myself to supporting my local community and gained a wide variety of experiences crucial for understanding the complex dynamics of local leadership: I opened a bookstore and founded a neighborhood business association; led a volunteer support group for Planned Parenthood and was named volunteer of the year; helped launch the transformation of an unused railway into a mixed use trail; organized sexual violence bystander training for community members; advocated for pedestrian safety; instituted restorative facilitation leadership training; was part of a team expanding organics recycling for neighbors in rental units; and created a tenant-to-tenant conflict resolution funding program to help prevent evictions. Before moving to Edina, we lived in the Uptown area of Minneapolis where I ran for city council, coming in second as a grassroots candidate in a competitive field of seven. Then as now, I urged voters to prioritize both police reform AND public safety, and to look for leadership that is courageous AND collaborative.