I was born in San Diego to a big family and raised in the Washington, DC area. Education and educational opportunities have made a big impression on me, (although my teachers and I would both agree that this is not the same thing as being the super-student in the class.) I attended Immaculata Preparatory School in Washington DC, an all-girls college prep school where I met some very smart and talented young women who are still part of my valued circle of friends.
I started college at Villanova University: great professors with classes in the honors program that really challenged me to think and to learn more. Villanova is also where I learned that “fit” really mattered for college success, and my fit wasn’t there. I transferred after my sophomore year to Wesleyan University, but before that I spent a semester at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Study abroad is life-changing for all the reasons you’ve heard. It certainly changed mine for the better when I met my husband, an American also studying abroad.
After Wesleyan and a brief stint in Brooklyn, New York, I moved to Madison, Wisconsin and never left. I met and worked with some amazingly talented people in graphic design and advertising, opening my eyes to the power of communication done right. I earned my master’s and doctoral degrees in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, focusing on the history of education. My dissertation examined national communications campaigns to advance public education from 1890-1945: a perfect blend of communications and educational causes in a fascinating historical context.
Professional experiences have added to—and honed—my interest in education. I’ve taught in formal and informal settings at the high school and college levels. I served as Executive Director for a statewide education nonprofit, where we partnered with K-12 schools, students, and parents on accelerated and advanced curriculum programs. I provided early research and policy support for the launch of WISCAPE, a campuswide research and policy center for postsecondary issues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I wrote policy papers and analyses during my time on staff in the Office of the Chancellor at UW-Madison. I developed strategic communications about student access and success for first-generation, students of color, and low- income college students. I have worked with high school counselors and college admissions directors on providing needed, relevant, and timely resources and advice for the college search process. As a parent to three children–recent college graduate, college student, and new high schooler—I have personally experienced the challenges and needs of students as they work towards educational success.
I’ve benefited greatly from service to my community and the dedicated people I encounter. For the last several years, I’ve coordinated the volunteer participation monthly at Luke House Community Meal Program in downtown Madison. I also serve the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission (Dane Arts), first as an advisory panel member from 2009-2013 and since then as a Commissioner. We review approximately 50-80 grant proposals twice a year for partial funding of a wide variety of arts projects that benefit the people of Dane County, Wisconsin.