I proudly admit to being an Iowa native, infused with the pragmatism, stamina and tenacity it takes to live a good life, regardless of nature’s plans. Mentored by those who keep moving forward, even when floods or drought wipe out a season of hard work, I left home as a teenager to seek my fame and fortune in New York City.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master’s degree from Columbia in a branch of psychology that explores how people make decisions, I became a probation officer with the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, then was a probation and parole office for the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. I helped people who’d gotten off track reformat their vision of a good life and figure out how to make it happen. That meant I asked hard questions, even when it made people squirm. With experience, I moved up the ladder to become a consultant with the State of New York to help oversee an alternative-to-incarceration program being rolled out statewide.

Then I became a mother, which tapped into my pragmatism, stamina and tenacity all the more. Asking hard questions in the face of resistance, that’s part of being a parent.

In 1996, I moved to Chapel Hill. Wanting to have the flexibility to raise my son and daughter, I took on freelance writing assignments, and I never stopped. I write and edit for various publications, locally and nationally, reinventing my skills and delving into new markets as the publishing industry changes. I originated a column on local politics for The Weekly when it debuted in 2013 and wrote a political column for the Chapel Hill News until I ran for office in 2015. I created the blog Chapel Hill Watch (chapelhillwatch.com) in 2009, watching Town Council meetings every week and informing readers of how decisions made at the dais would impact their lives.

Contributing to my community has always been important to me. I began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity more than 40 years ago in New York. When my children were students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro public schools, I volunteered in the classroom, the PTA Thrift Shop and the IFC shelter kitchen. I was a Girl Scout leader and a Boy Scout volunteer. I have continually held leadership positions on boards and committees at University Presbyterian Church, where I have served as an elder and deacon.