Why I Care
My area of focus in government and politics has been, from the beginning, not the development of our workforce, but early childhood care. I believe that if there is a place that American society would do best to focus its energy and resources, it would be expanding pre-natal services, universal developmental education, access to free or subsidized preschools, and other measures to make sure that — from birth — an American child has just as much of an opportunity to thrive as any other child, regardless of who their parents are.
I think I came to this firm political belief looking at my classrooms growing up — which were always extremely diverse, right near the heart of the inner city — and realizing that the life trajectories for many of my classmates were already largely determined by their early childhood. This was true of the brightest and most talented students just as much as anyone else. Now in adulthood, I see most of those trajectories confirmed, with talent and hard work not being the determining factors in the qualities of life for many of my former classmates, but those factors that were far out of their control in their earliest years: nutrition, prenatal attention, developmental health, etc.
But here’s the truth: parents virtually always want the best for their kids. The difficulty is when parents themselves are trapped in cycles they cannot break out of, and usually this is indicated by financial stress. Poverty is the key driver of disparities in early childhood care, and it has been demonstrated that a middle-class income is far stronger than any government assistance, however well-run, and certainly better than relying on charity and family networks alone.
So comes my dedication to workforce development. In the past few years, in my county (Hennepin, which includes my city of Minneapolis), there has been an unprecedented demand in high-wage skilled workers, to the tune of over a hundred thousand empty positions. Yet, in Minneapolis for instance, almost a quarter of households — over a hundred thousand people — live under the poverty line. The challenge is how to pair the strengths of residents with the quickly evolving needs of the economy.
What I Do
To help solve this imbalance, I am a Director on the Board of the Minneapolis College Foundation, one of the great honors of my life. In this position, I work to influence lawmakers and power-wielders to invest resources into cost-of-attendance subsidies that often times return up to 4x the investment. I work in this position on a volunteer basis and am constantly looking for collaborators, so please, reach out and contact me!