Woman to Watch

Age: 30.

Location: Dubuque.

Title: Program specialist by day, foodie by night.

Employer: Dubuque Main Street, also volunteer as the chairwoman of the Dubuque County Food Policy Council.

Number of years employed there: Three, since June 2016.

Educational background: Masters of Arts in education, Bachelor’s degree in history education.

Describe your role in your work. What kinds of things do you do, and what are you responsible for?

As a program specialist, my responsibilities include community outreach, event planning and implementation, marketing, grant writing and coordination of volunteers.

As chairwoman of the DCFPC, my responsibilities are to promote a resilient environmental food system that is just and equitable for all of Dubuque County. This is done so through policy recommendation, educational outreach and bridging community partners.

What do you enjoy about what you do? On so many levels, both of my community not-for-profit roles working with community leaders to make an impact within our community. Whether it is filling vacant storefronts with entrepreneurs or engaging in conversation about community gardens, the true enjoyment comes from watching others connect and make impact.

Describe your role in the community: How do you believe you are making an impact, and what kinds of things would you like to continue to do to grow in your outreach?

Honestly, my impact comes from facilitating connections and partnerships with the goal of improving our community, sitting back and seeing who can be connected to partner to make change in the community. With so many positive vibes within our community, I would love to continue to generating conversations with those who want to make a positive impact. Professionally, I encourage others to continue to invest downtown and the vibrancy of the culture it has grown into. Without supporting our neighbors and joining together cross sections of our lives, change is hard to achieve. Why? Because we are one person, with only 24 hours in a day.

What drives your passion for your involvement in the community? What do you love about the community? As a Dubuquer, the community passion for building on each other’s strengths and helping each other in a time of need drives my passion to be involved. There is great potential that lies in this community. In Denver, as part of the All American City Award competition, my love for the community grew stronger. I made connections with those passionate about inclusivity, health and local food access in our community. I see amazing small things being done every day. The spark to light the vibrancy in our community continues to build and Dubuque has the potential in five years to say, in the words of Nicole Byer, “Nailed it.”

As a young woman, what advice to you have for others about getting involved and making an impact in their communities? Impact starts within. Unhappy with a certain path your life has taken? Pave a new path toward positivity in your life. Don’t let the negativity and day-to-day keep you from following your dream. Listen to others and surround yourself with those who build you up. Lead others by example.

As a little girl, I never would have let myself get caught up in the put downs, I just would find my own path to happiness. But my own happiness extends beyond myself. Find something you are passionate in, tap into your inner child.

Who would you credit as being your mentors? First, I would like to credit two very important people in my life for their continued support: Representative Chuck Isenhart, Councilwoman Kate Larson and Kristina Beytien. Without these three, I would not be answering the questions presented today.

But as for my mentors, I see inspiration from those willing to push forward and “keep on, keeping on, forevermore.” The biggest mentors, and people who play a major role in my life, are my parents. My parents have never stopped pushing me to tap into my inner voice and put myself into the community. Since I was young, service to the community and inclusivity always was encouraged. When I was five, I took my dad’s hand into a Persons with Disabilit y retreat. 25 years later, I call many of those we connected with “sisters” and “brothers.” Growing up, my parents emphasis was on that everyone is important and has a role to play in our community.

Persistence led me to connect with two other key mentors, who might not even know it, in my life. Susan Price has really opened up avenues for my DCFPC and Dubuque Main Street worlds, without a hesitation of my non-conformist ideas. She is an inspiration to keep moving forward to what is right and inclusive, strategically knocking down the negative. Caprice Jones also is a huge inspiration when it comes to keeping on. Caprice truly has tapped into his inner passion to keep making change in our community. His strive to knock down walls in the community is inspirational and his life’s testament is inspirational.

When you’re not busy in your role, what else do you enjoying doing? I love being with my daughter, Charlie, 5, every chance I can. Whether it is dancing under the Town Clock at Jazz or playing soccer with her, my life would not be possible without my time with her. But World, watch out. She has been known to be introduced as my doppelganger. I also enjoy gardening, volunteering with inclusive community initiatives and relaxing by the pool.

Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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