I am passionate about creating communities that work for everyone.
I grew up in Galax, Virginia – a close-knit mountain community where people looked out for each other. I was fortunate to have the love and support of parents who instilled in me the belief that anything is possible with education, hard work and determination.
My dad was an embodiment of this: He grew up in a family with eight children and little money. His dad worked on the railroad, and his mom was a factory seamstress. Dad had no idea going to college was even an option until a teacher pulled him aside and told him he could. He worked his way through college as a janitor and then went to medical school, working at the hospital morgue to pay his tuition and support his family.
I, too, wanted a career that would allow me to serve others and chose law school, where I learned to think critically and analyze complex problems. It was in law school that I also stepped up as a leader, spearheading the creation of the Public Interest Law Organization grant program at Wake Forest, which allows law students to do summer internships at nonprofits.
I chose to make my home in Winston-Salem, where I took on two other roles — community activist and mom — that have given my life meaning and joy. And I have continued to shape a career that allows me to help others. I believe education is the great equalizer and I work every day at Wake Forest University so that kids from low and middle-income families can attend a great school and so that families who have worked hard, saved and sacrificed to send their kids to college can keep them there, even in the face of job loss, illness or divorce.
As both a lawyer and administrator, I have advocated for families. I know the struggles of people trying hard but falling short because complex educational, judicial and social service systems hinder them instead of helping. I believe we can do better for our children, our families and our communities.
My life has been rooted in public service.
I’ve spent my life trying to lift up others, focusing on issues that are essential to healthy, thriving communities — improving local schools, increasing access to higher education, protecting our environment and building a hopeful, positive future for everyone.
I’m proud of being co-founder of Piedmont Environmental Alliance, a non-profit that empowers students and protects our natural resources. Currently, I serve on the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way, a group that makes investments in local education to increase the graduation rate. I have held many leadership roles at my church and currently serve as chair of the Social Action Council.
I served several years as a board member of Forsyth Futures, studying the challenges facing the county so leaders can make informed, positive changes. And I served on the Public Utilities Commission, a joint effort of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, where I studied in-depth our region’s infrastructure challenges. When my girls were younger, I served for four years on the Paisley IB Magnet school PTSA, including two years as president.
Through all my roles, I’ve come to believe that everyone should have the same opportunities I’ve had – and my father had before me. We all deserve to earn an education without accumulating crushing debt, to pursue a vocation that challenges and inspires us, to be financially secure, and to feel safe in our homes and neighborhoods.