Growing up in Powderhorn and now living in Kingfield, I've enjoyed the many gifts of this area. This community is abundant—with fascinating people, great commercial enterprises, parks and super urban accessibility, as well as multiple challenges. I bring tremendous energy and intent to listen to and address our diverse concerns. I will also work hard to use all the talents and ideas of South Minneapolis to solve the daunting problems facing our state and country.
As your prospective state representative, I want to hear from you. My cell phone number is (612) 709-4375. Please give me a call so that we can get to know each other better!
local roots and global branches
I was born and raised on the corner of 32nd and Elliot in South Minneapolis, where I saw many changes and challenges, yet great neighbors enhanced my childhood. This place shaped my understandings of diversity, privilege, and community.
My early childhood was spent at M&M's daycare in Kingfield, where I learned the skills crucial to any future progressive activist, like how to share and the importance of healthful whole foods. I started school at Anderson Elementary and, spent many happy afternoons at Powderhorn, playing baseball, basketball, and soccer.
When I was eight years old, my family moved to Managua, Nicaragua, to serve as field workers with the Lutheran church. My social worker mother, Amy, addressed domestic violence. My father, Mike Troutman, used his background in finance to manage the church's microloans. Most of my time was spent playing with mis vecinos, my neighbors, throwing mangoes and climbing avocado trees, but even as a child it was impossible to ignore the bright lines of class and education that divided the city. Every time we'd stop at a traffic light, a child much younger than myself would climb onto the hood of our car and wash our windshield, hoping to earn a nickel's worth of cordobas. Slowly, Nicaragua opened my eyes to the privileges I was handed at birth—societal biases of race, gender, wealth, and faith. When we returned home in 1996, I saw, as if with new eyes, my own neighborhood's challenges and frustrations. The realization that Minneapolis suffered from some of the same stark forces of inequality as Managua left me deeply unsettled.
From fifth grade until high school, I attended Emerson Spanish Immersion. Emerson faced all the challenges of a public school, and taught me an early lesson about the difficulties of American education policy. In my middle school class, English language learners who struggled to pass basic standards tests sat alongside students who would go on to become National Merit Scholars in high school. It might have been a disaster—thirty-odd kids in one room, all with different needs—but for the heroics of our teacher, a woman named Flory who refused to see any of her students left behind. Because of her, no one became invisible and no one went unchallenged. Flory had the power of her passion, and worked within an imperfect system, often against all odds, to change her small corner of the world. She instilled in me the belief that great teaching can change the course of a life. In the following years I also benefited tremendously from my many passionate teachers and classmates at South High School.
In 2004, I left home and didn't return for six years. I spent that time studying Arabic, economics, and geography at Middlebury College, in Vermont, and on three occasions, I took a semester off to pursue service opportunities. As a sophomore, I worked on a large corn and wheat farm in southwest Kansas and as a cook for a Lutheran retreat center in Washington State. As a junior, I lived in the Middle East for five months, gaining proficiency in Arabic and working for the YMCA in Bethlehem. As a senior, in 2008, I spent three months volunteering full-time for the Obama campaign in Reading, Pennsylvania, a critical swing state that went for Obama.
Every summer for 7 years, I've worked in youth leadership development with the very special YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, based adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness. It has been my delight to guide youth on ever-more challenging wilderness treks, watching them grow in competence in the midst of incredible natural beauty. My love for our rich natural heritage spurs my commitments to protect our Minnesota legacy and address the urgent demands of climate change and sustainability issues.
After graduating in 2010, I moved to Washington, D.C., to work on renewable energy issues. The firm I worked for, VH Strategies, helped promote an agenda that will move us closer to energy independence. While there, I aided in developing advocacy strategies for solar, biofuel, and other renewable energy companies. My introduction to Capitol Hill came as Washington partisanship reached its tenor pitch and the country became bitterly divided over the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, Obama's comprehensive health care plan. Spending each day at the Capitol, I witnessed firsthand the negative impact of partisanship and active efforts to suppress constructive dialogue.
At the end of 2010, I moved home. I quickly found work volunteering for the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota and Representative Jeff Hayden. With the Lutheran Coalition, I met with as many legislators as possible, men and women of every and no faith, and promoted our policy of caring for the most vulnerable—a critical message at a time when our state's poor, disabled, and homeless were facing the dire consequences of a House proposal to cut $1.6 billion from the Health and Human Services budget. For Representative (now Senator) Hayden, I worked on promoting the Minnesota Health Plan, a bill that would pay for high-quality health care statewide, without wasting money on unnecessary insurance administration expenses and without leaving anyone uninsured. In August, I started my current job as a production carpenter for Terra Firma, a Twin Cities building and remodeling company (before taking a leave of absence to campaign).