I believe we can create a world that celebrates diversity and nurtures rather than exploits.
My beloved grandmother was a Japanese immigrant who instilled the values of independence, devotion to family, and tenacity. I saw firsthand the sorrows of being separated from loved ones by oceans, and deeply admired my grandmother's dignity in the face of discrimination and her insistence on not assimilating to cultural practices she did not believe in. I also grew up in a social worker's house where conversations with my dad about our duties to care for the marginalized and to think critically about systems of oppression were the dinner table talk. He was also a strong supporter of his union -- he didn't make enough for us to take vacations but we did have good health care and parental time off and that made all the difference. When Covid-19 hit I begged my dad to do his work remotely, but he told me that his clients were people abandoned by society -- many of them live month to month between homelessness and shelter -- and he would never stop showing up for them, even if it means catching a deadly virus. These are my role models.
I will translate progressive ideas into PRACTICAL ACTION to REBUILD
after a global pandemic, civil unrest, and a surge in violent crime.
I have studied peace and conflict resolution, worked for the Islamic Center for Peace, and lived in South Africa to learn about the truth and reconciliation commission. In law school I focused on environmental and Federal Indian law, and clerked for Justice Brian Boatright (CO Supreme Court) when he was a district court judge. Ultimately I was disenchanted with the way the American legal system often creates more problems than it solves and moved to Minneapolis for a PhD in comparative literature and cultural studies from the UMN where I examined the relationship between the atomic bombing of Hiroshima alongside the internment of Japanese Americans, and taught students how to think critically about white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. Since becoming a mother I have dedicated myself to supporting my local community and gained a wide variety of experiences crucial for understanding the complex dynamics of city leadership: I opened a bookstore in Cincinnati and founded a neighborhood business association; led a volunteer support group for Planned Parenthood and was named volunteer of the year for the SW Ohio region. I also helped launch the transformation of an unused railway in Cincinnati into a nearly completed mixed use trail (wassonway.org). After moving back to Minneapolis in 2016, I pursued trainings in restorative justice, a concept I became familiar with in law school during studies of indigenous systems of conflict resolution. I have also served as a board member for the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood (LHENA) for almost 4 years with the last 18 months as board president.
I will work to transform oppressive paradigms that create winners and losers with a combination of pragmatic and creative problem-solving, through collaboration and consensus-building, and by staying close to the communities I serve.
Personally recruited people of color, women, renters, and diverse age groups for representation on the board and in committee leadership;
Streamlined the monthly board meetings to make them more approachable for all kinds of neighbors, introduced talking circles, and emphasized joyful participation;
Reinstituted program notifying residents and businesses within the immediate vicinity of a proposed development regarding the project and opportunities for engagement
Consensus Building &
Brought together diverse (and often divergent) voices to co-create a novel community development vision and draft development scorecard;
Worked with Whittier Alliance and Lynlake Business Association to create community vision plan for development of Garfield Lot;
Hosted a forum with community leaders from North Minneapolis to discuss public safety issues;
Partnered with the Minneapolis Peacebuilding Institute to bring restorative justice training to board members;
Organized neighborhood sexual violence bystander intervention trainings with Sexual Violence Center;
Advocated for increased pedestrian safety along Lyndale corridor (editorials, letters to public officials);
Co-created an online neighbor solidarity network during the social unrest in June 2020, organizing over 800 neighbors in 2 days;
Advocated on behalf of 24 residents and the neighborhood for accountability regarding the damage and eventual demolition of naturally occurring affordable housing at 2003 Aldrich Ave S, which was then acquired by the real estate company responsible for the malfeasance;
Transformed the work and vision of the original crime & safety committee by reframing its scope to a community life & safety committee in 2017, and then most recently into the community-building committee;
Worked intimately with other board members to create LHENA’s first strategic plan;
Collaborated on new processes for development issues that is less confrontational and divisive;
Drafted and implemented a first-of-its-kind Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement for LHENA employee health care stipends when told there were no solutions for providing health care coverage for LHENA employees
Created an organizational model to incorporate a new mutual aid structure within the association that now feeds nearly 80 households every month and creates new opportunities for residents to work on community care outside the traditional neighborhood association system.