LIFE'S A JUNGLE
I grew up in a rural Louisiana town best known for it’s beer. When I was young, cattle roamed the front lawn and a cargo train regularly cut off our neighborhood from the highway. Imagine my surprise when I ended up in a remote mountain village in Fiji after graduating college smack in the middle of the country’s worst depression in one hundred years. My three month hiatus turned into three years of unlikely love, wild successes and huge failures that culminated in the opening of the country’s first rural women’s crisis center and a village-wide food co-operative.
From there, I took a job as the Economic Development Advisor to the African Model Forest Network and was based in Kribi, Cameroon. The NGO world in Central and West Africa is an entirely different game! The work was mired in geo political brinksmanship and legacies of colonialism. Though my passion for the developing world will never diminish, my heart for International Development as a full time field had waned. It was time to come home.
Ending gun violence has been important to me since the loss of my two childhood friends, Trés and Billy Jack, at the hands of their father when we were 12. When I came home, my focus shifted to ending Louisiana’s dangerous and preventable gun violence epidemic. I went to work for Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action as a five-state Organizing Manager. I was constantly disappointed and disturbed, however, at the seeming lack of investment in the very communities who experience gun violence at the highest rates. I was organizing in the South, yet watching zero high donor or foundation grant dollars flow into my home region. In 2015 I founded the Deep South’s only gun violence prevention policy and advocacy organization, the Louisiana Violence Reduction Coalition. I was lucky enough to partner with amazing advocates to reform the criminal justice system and to pass some of the South’s strongest domestic violence gun laws.
LET'S SAVE THE WORLD
My dedication to communities most affected by gun violence has earned me a voice on the national stage. I served as the National Director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence and as the End Gun Violence Campaign Manager for Amnesty International USA. I’ve debated gun lobbyists on national and international media, and my efforts have been covered by the likes of The Observer and Yahoo News. I serve on national leadership boards for Generation Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, and for the Community Justice Reform Coalition. At home in New Orleans, my interests and volunteer time vary widely and I enjoy service positions with the National Council of Jewish Women, the Legislative Agenda for Women, and the Independent Women’s Organization. I am currently hard at work on my first book exploring the joy of Southern Progressive organizing, with tips on how to lose forward and stay sane!