I was born at Andrews Air Force Base, where my father had returned from war in Vietnam. I’m from a very military family: my mom’s dad was a chaplain in the Battle of the Bulge, and my dad’s father was a medic in the Pacific, while my three uncles served in Viet Nam too. I’m from a family defined by duty and service.
I was still very young when the family moved across the country to California so my father could work in computers. He started his own company in our garage–you might expect a Microsoft or Google success story–but it didn’t work out. When he tried to re-enter the tech workforce, he couldn’t find a job, so he volunteered, teaching computer literacy to underprivileged children. Meanwhile, my mother worked as a hotel maid and retail clerk to pay the bills.
I went to college at a big state school like SCSU, San Francisco State. I ran track there and studied communication. I moved to Maine to go to graduate school, but really, I just wanted to see another part of the country. Thirteen years ago, I came to Minnesota to go to school; I committed to Minnesota for a job; I am at home in Minnesota because it is family.
I teach about communication and democracy at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. My wife, Laurie, is in education too. She used to be a counsellor and assistant principal at South Junior High, but for the past three years, she’s been the principal at Kennedy Community School. Education is a big concern of ours; dinner table conversation, which includes our kids as well — Eliza (13) and Phineas (11), who both go to South.
I do workshops on critical thinking, citizenship, and community for teachers in the public schools throughout central Minnesota and in the criminal justice system. I volunteer around town and work on the board of directors at three local nonprofits. Like all of us, I’m pretty busy.
Our area has adopted Greater! as its motto. That’s both a description and a goal. My commitment as a legislator will be to make it become ever more true, for us here and for our state.