What is your educational background? I received my Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University, and my Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University; in addition, I attended Colgate Rochester Divinity School in the Master of Arts program.
What is your professional background? My professional background is broad in scope. I started my career with a nonprofit organization as a Housing Specialist for an inner-city neighborhood revitalization program; then worked in the Department of Housing and Community Development for the State of New York; went on to the Office of Environmental Impact for New York City as an Assistant Program Manager; served as Legislative Coordinator and Director of the Joint Legislative Commission on Rural Resources in the New York State Assembly; returned to the nonprofit sector and worked for the Agriculture Resources Center in Carrboro and Raleigh; wrote grants for the Land Loss Prevention Project; staffed the Conservation Council of North Carolina; relocated to Alabama to serve as the Director of a sustainable forestry project for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives; came back to North Carolina, and in 2010, co-founded Free Spirit Freedom.
Have you ever held political office? If so, please describe your experience. Yes, I have been serving as a county commissioner since 2012, when I was elected to the District 2 seat on the Orange County Board of County Commissioners. The experience has been challenging and rewarding, and for these reasons, I ran for re-election in 2016, and I am running again in 2020. I enjoy collaborating with constituents and stakeholders in the continual effort to build community.
Why are you choosing to run for Orange County Commissioner/Board of Education at this point in time? Circumstances and situations led me to decide to run for county commissioner at this time in my life and career. Having worked in the governmental and nonprofit arenas, I recognized the opportunity to be helpful to my community in yet another capacity, as I seek to engage with community members in improving the social, economic and environmental quality of Orange County. In addition, I had served on numerous Orange County advisory boards and commissions—including the Planning Board, Commission for the Environment, Historic Preservation Commission, Human Relations Commission—as well as special task forces and working groups and determined that a seat on the actual decision-making body was a logical next step to pursue.
What are some of the challenges that you see facing Orange County in the coming years that you’ll have to take on if elected? Access, Opportunity and Inclusion. Orange County faces many challenges as our municipalities, suburban neighborhoods, our rural areas, our schools, and our region continue to experience growth and development, in the midst of needed repairs and maintenance to facilities and infrastructure. In the next four years, I want to focus more intently on:
• Access to services and programs that help assure decent housing, food and health care for families, seniors, homeless and veterans; access to quality learning environments for all students, including early childcare and pre-K; and also access to training for adults needing skills for 21st century jobs
• Opportunity for growth and expansion of research, technology and manufacturing businesses offering living wage jobs and benefits to local residents; opportunity for entrepreneurs, farmers, innovators and artists to thrive; as well as opportunity to connect to the internet;
• Inclusion of the views and values from the broad spectrum of cultures, ages, genders, abilities and incomes that are represented in Orange County, as we design the ways and means to provide reliable transit, mitigate climate change, reform the criminal justice system and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
Please describe briefly your vision for Orange County: My ultimate goal in life, personally and professionally, remains constant—the realization of freedom, equality and justice for all, and so, my vision for Orange County is a place where freedom, equality and justice are realized by all. As we engage and empower one another, I believe we can sustain a vibrant, resilient and dynamic Orange County community.
Why should voters vote for you in the March 3 Spring Primary? Because I am unopposed, my name will not appear on the Primary ballot; voters will be able to cast their votes for me in the General Election in November.