I expect you want to know a little bit about me and what makes me tick before deciding if you’re going to support me. I'm a small business owner: my son Henry and I own Buttonsmith Inc. in downtown Carnation where we employ 9 people making buttons, magnets, lanyards, and badge reels. I'm a mom to 13-year-old Henry and my 11-year-old stepson, Alex, who together keep my days busy and interesting. And I'm an activist who has spent much of my adult life working to make democracy work better for more Americans.
I grew up in family of pretty modest means. My dad enlisted in the US Air Force right out of high school and served through the Vietnam era. He and my mom married young, and she stayed home to raise the family. And a big family it was! I was the third of five kids, adopted because my parents wanted a girl after two boys. (I don’t think they were counting on my innate love for Tonka trucks and electronics. But my sister Tammy, two years younger than me, fulfilled my mom’s desire for ribbons and bows.)
While my family moved around a bunch when I was a kid, Washington State was an anchor for us. My dad’s family lives in Rochester (just south of Olympia), and we came here every summer of my childhood. I grew up loving the trees and the mountains, hiking at Mount Rainier with my brothers and splashing in the creek on my uncle Dave’s farm in Rochester.
When my dad retired from the Air Force after twenty years, my parents moved to Nebraska to be near my mom’s family, and I graduated from Fremont High School in Fremont, Nebraska. (Trivia point: Fremont, Nebraska was named after the first Republican candidate for President, John C. Fremont. He didn’t win. But the second Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, did.)
After graduation I went to Harvard where I got a B.A. degree in computer science with a special field of economics – a college tenure punctuated by a couple of years off to earn money and the accumulation of significant student loan debt. During and after college I worked in the software industry as a trainer, programmer, in technical sales, and ultimately as a group program manager at Microsoft.
In 2003, though, there were two things that happened in quick succession which changed my view on how I should be spending my time. The first was a good one: my ex-husband Mike and I had our son, Henry. But when Henry was about three months old, my brother Jason marched into Iraq with the initial invading force. I have a very vivid memory of packing a care package for Jay while holding Henry in my other arm and realizing that there was no set of choices I could make to give my son the kind of life I wanted him to have if we didn’t change the direction of the country.
Building on my increasing political engagement in 2004 and 2005, in 2006 I challenged Republican Congressman Dave Reichert for his seat. I reasoned that only a Congress focused on progressive priorities could get things back on track. The campaign team, including thousands of volunteers and small donors, did an amazing job and we came close enough that we didn’t know for a week who had won.
I ran again in 2008, and took the opportunity to work with other candidates, national security experts, and retired generals to writeThe Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, endorsed by more than sixty candidates for the U.S. House and Senate, which laid bare both why and how we needed to end the war. Unfortunately, once again we came close enough not to know the results on election night, but the 8thCongressional district held fast to its perfect record of electing Republicans.
At the end of my 2008 campaign I promised I’d never give up fighting for progressive policies, and in 2009, I continued to fulfill that promise by becoming the first Executive Director of ProgressiveCongress.org, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. that works with the Congressional Progressive Caucus on public health, civil rights, education, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity.
I returned to my house just outside of Carnation in 2011, and in 2012 did some work on clean energy technologies, founding one of Washington's first social purpose corporations to explore geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling houses. In 2014, I helped my son Henry turn a class project into a buttonmaking business that employs 9 people in downtown Carnation.
I’ve been a guest featured on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, the Ed Show, C-SPAN, ABC, NPR, Pacifica Radio, and a host of local programs, and featured inRoll Call, Politico, The Hill, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Huffington Post, DailyKos.com, The Nation, Mother Jones, and as a keynote speaker at Netroots Nation alongside Elizabeth Warren, Bill Clinton and Howard Dean. I’ve blogged atOpenLeft.com, DailyKos, Crooks & Liars, and Huffington Post.
I’ve been honored to be a board member of Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, the SNAP PAC (Students for a New American Politics) Advisory Board, the Progressive Ideas Network Advisory Board, the Center for International Policy board, the ActBlue board, the NARAL Pro-Choice America board, and to serve as the chair of the Netroots Foundation board. I was also a member of the Afghanistan Study Group, and currently serve as the Secretary of the 5th Legislative District Democrats.
I live just over the hill from Carnation with my husband Jonathan, my son Henry, my stepson Alexander, and our dogs Callie, Faith, and Tater.