North Dakota Grassroots Organizer
I grew up in Fallston, North Carolina population 600 in the foothills. I had mountains and rivers and forest in my backyard. Growing up mixed race and gay in a small southern town was not easy but my parents really pushed me and my sister to be the best at everything while also showing us that the world was bigger than then Fallston. We spent a large majority of our summers Traveling around the US.
One of my favorite places we would go was Amusement parks in different states and I became obsessed with roller coasters, to the point that I would save up all my birthday money and buy models to build. I wanted to be a Roller Coaster Engineer. I soon realized that even though I was a good pupil, I was terrible at Math.
I soon didn’t know what I wanted to do. I focused a lot of my time on school, and an opportunity to study in China was presented to me and I jumped at it. I spent some time traveling, studying and getting to know the country. It opened my eyes to the privilege I had. To have free education, freedom of speech, freedom of choice, even the privilege of having a sister. I knew from then on, I wanted to have an impact. I wanted to help and make a difference.
Through a series of events I ended up at NDSU, I graduated with a degree in Strategic communications with an emphasis in Nonprofit communications. I knew the right job would come eventually and I heard that Planned Parenthood had a position opened and I knew it was what I had been waiting for. I had volunteered and supported PP all through college so to be able to work for here is truly a dream.
I can say I’ve marked a ton of things off my bucket list, but I keep finding new things to add every day. I want to finish the Appalachian Trail, I want to travel to Bnaff, Canada and I would love to do more humanitarian work around the world.
North Dakota Grassroots Organizer
In my childhood I had an ambitious dream for my future all wrapped up in my love for animals; I wanted to be a veterinarian. As a child we always had pets and I adored them all! Today, I am content with my eleven-year-old orange tabby cat named Charlie. I’ve learned that nurturing is a lot different than “curing”.
In my 20s and 30s I did not feel I had a voice or could impact the world other than as a “mom”. I grew up in a town of 400 people, Minnewaukan ND. Everyone was white, very conservative/traditional, and proud. Women knew their place and it was mainly barefoot and pregnant; hence, I had six children in eight years. Those years were hard and violent. In that relationship/partnership I was not allowed to have a pet, read books, or nurture any skills. And then, one fateful night, my world took a dramatic turn.
On Halloween in 1999 life changed forever. I was arrested! This may sound very bad; however, it was my ticket to freedom. Throughout the process of working my way through the justice system I came across a flyer offering a basic computer skills class. The organization that hosted the training had a progressive social justice mission with racial justice at the forefront. I had never even thought about inequality and privilege. I began to learn about how to have an impact and use my voice. I was 37 years old and had never voted!
From that day forward, I have been a sponge. I applied for college and began a liberal studies curriculum and I continued to work with and for progressive organizations. Amazingly I found my passion! I learned that I am a systemic reform agent who is motivated to make the world just, equal, and inclusive. That is why I am thrilled to join Planned Parenthood! It is an organization that I have aligned myself with for years; my twelve-year-old granddaughter has been marching with PP since she was in a stroller! This year she called me to march in the Pride Parade and then I knew, the fruit was ripening!
In my zest for growth and life I have learned that I am a gardener and that I love to travel. One of my most exciting trips was to India. The experience was brilliant! Amazing people, phenomenal food, and beautiful places filled with tradition, ritual and love. Here in America we call people from other countries “aliens”; in India visitors are called “gift from God”.