I’m excited to join the Empower Missouri team as Lead Policy Strategist! In my new role with the organization I’ll be partnering with our policy managers to advance state-level policy priorities related to food and nutrition security and affordable housing. My accidental love affair with public policy started 12 years ago when I accepted a position with a national non-profit that was described as “75% programmatic and 25% policy-focused”. I was certain that I would be able to meet the organization’s needs when it came to programmatic goals and promised that I would “do my best” to advance their state-level public policy goals. I can now laugh at my own hubris as I recall making that statement during the interview process. I wish I could recapture my unwavering confidence from that moment, having never set foot in a state capitol building or spoken with an elected official. Less than a month later and I was waist deep in state budget bills, trying to intervene in a process that was completely foreign to me. I was familiar with Schoolhouse Rock’s I’m Just a Bill and was quickly realizing that educational ditty glossed over much of what is a very nuanced process!

While that first legislative session was a steep learning curve, I was hooked. I fell in love with formulating strategy and building alliances to advance legislation that helped Missourians live better lives. My first “win” was Chloe’s Law, which added screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) to our state’s newborn screening panel. It was estimated that implementation of this simple screening would save 5 – 6 infant lives per year. Those infants and their families will never know the names of the many individuals and organizations who worked to pass that legislation in 2013 but knowing that I had a role in helping to make that a reality continues to serve as a source of motivation to do this work. 

My previous policy work has focused primarily on two areas of focus: maternal and infant health policy and food and nutrition security policy. My passion and knowledge of these two content areas runs deep, and I’m enjoying bringing that knowledge and experience into my work with Empower Missouri. In these first weeks and months in my new role, I’m enjoying the challenge of learning about affordable housing policy ahead of the 2024 legislative session. Food and housing go hand-in-hand when it comes to addressing basic needs, so integrating this new content knowledge into my mental model feels like a natural fit for me. I’m also discovering many parallels and intersections with maternal and infant health policy throughout my learning.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with those who work in the food and nutrition security space in Missouri as well as making new connections with affordable housing advocates in our state. Whether we’ve connected previously or have yet to meet, I’d love to connect with you and learn how we can work together to advance public policy. 

Warm regards,


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