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. So here’s a little of my life story:
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 #1: 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. Trivia point #2: the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle is named for Fremont, Nebraska. And the adjoining Wallingford neighborhood is named for my husband Mike’s hometown, Wallingford, Connecticut. The world is full of funny coincidences.)
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 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. (I’m happy the rest of our troops will finally be returning home at the end of 2011.)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 President and 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’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 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’m also a member of the Afghanistan Study Group.
I live on the Eastside with my husband Mike, our son Henry, and our dog Bruce.