As Saint Paul City Council Member for Ward One:

Advanced equity and equal opportunity for all

  • Led the community process to create the city’s Department of Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO), a department devoted to investigating reports of discrimination and ensuring the city’s contracting and procurement processes are fair
  • Authored city ordinance to “Ban the Box” to prevent employers from discriminating against people with criminal backgrounds; successfully advocated at the legislature for the concept to become state law
  • Testified to the legislature in support of raising the state’s minimum wage for hardworking Minnesotans and to stand up against Voter ID, a proposal to limit the ability to vote to only those who can show a photo ID at the polls
  • Helped build and fund community-based city job-training and placement efforts for people with low incomes from underrepresented communities, including:
  • Road to Success – an effort to get residents commercial driver’s licenses to qualify them for trucking jobs related to the Central Corridor development around light rail; and
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Academy – an academy to educate young women and people of color to become certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to help diversify the medical field and the city’s fire department so our workforce reflects the residents we serve


Championed Affordable Housing, Transit, and City Investment

  • Worked with community activists to secure funding for two of the three neighborhood stations on Green Line LRT Corridor to ensure the line included stops to service highly transit-dependent populations near Hamline, Victoria and Western Avenues
  • Spearheaded the creation of a $2.5 million City Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help homeowners in the wake of the foreclosure crisis and stabilize neighborhoods by:
    • creating a new initiative enabling homeowners that were behind on their mortgages to sell – and then repurchase – their homes through a contract-for-deed;
    • increasing affordable multi-family housing by renovating existing units and constructing new units;
    • building affordable single-family homes on lots purchased by the city to stabilize neighborhoods;
    • offering home repair loans to homeowners unable to access traditional financing due to a significant loss in their home’s value as a result of the foreclosure crisis; and
    • assisting senior homeowners with low incomes in improving their homes to increase in-home safety and mobility.
  • Authored & passed legislation to require landlords to notify their tenants of a pending foreclosure on their property
  • Led compromise agreement to enable downtown restaurant Cossetta’s to significantly expand, leveraging the city’s investment to secure 140 construction jobs and 100 new full-time positions during the height of the Great Recession, with living wage jobs for up to 75% of employees
  • Served on the Metropolitan Council Nominating Committee (2010-present), which evaluates and recommends candidates to the Governor to ensure strong representation on the Metropolitan Council


Fought for High Quality Education and Safety for our Children

Brought together a community-wide coalition to create the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, a broad education partnership among the City, County, School District and community organizations to ensure all children succeed from cradle to career, attracting over $15 million in investments in Saint Paul’s Frogtown and Summit-University neighborhoods since 2009

  • Served on Mayor Coleman’s Education Leadership Team, a coalition of top leaders from the City, County, School District, and Wilder Foundation aligning forces to better serve children
  • Authored and passed legislation to ban the sale of candy cigarettes and toy cigarette lighters to prevent marketers from grooming children to adopt unhealthy behaviors
  • Passed food allergy ordinance to make it safer for the increasing numbers of children and adults with allergies and food sensitivities to dine in Saint Paul
  • Advocated for increased funding for community centers and libraries to ensure our children have access to enriching opportunities near their homes
  • Secured resources for the city to partner with Saint Paul Public Schools to conduct “Parent Academies” to educate parents on how to engage with schools to support their children’s education


As Director of the Minnesota Office of Early Learning (OEL):

  • Oversaw implementation of Minnesota’s $45 million Federal Race to the Top grant as director of Office of Early Learning
  • Partnered with Governor’s Office and agency leaders to help advocate for and administer over $100 million in increased state investments in children & families, including:
  • $25 million state investment to provide free, voluntary preschool to 3,000 Minnesota 4-year olds (including over $600,000 for Saint Paul Public Schools);
  • Early Learning Scholarships to help 8,000 children from low-income families access high quality child care;
  • Minnesota’s “Parent Aware” rating system to help families find high quality child care; and
  • supporting community initiatives like the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood (now in state base budget for $1.2M annually).
  • Helped create & advance proposed $500 million package of early childhood investments, including voluntary PreK, Home Visiting, and Child Care Assistance Program improvements.


 And As Executive Director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet:

  • Advise Governor Dayton on Early Childhood policies and proposals, as well as police-community relations in the aftermath of the death of Philando Castile
  • Engage public and legislative leaders across the state to build energy and will around a transformative vision for supporting Minnesota children & families;
  • Lead coordination efforts across state agencies & divisions to streamline efforts & make it easier for families to access resources;
  • Children’s Cabinet received “Better Government” award from Lt. Governor Tina Smith for our work to build a statewide “no wrong door,” centralized system for parents to access resources & supports for their children

Selected to participate in prestigious Aspen Ascend Fellowship, working with leaders from across the country to develop and advance a two-generation approach to building economic security, educational success, and health and well-being for low-income families in the U.S.