MY COMMITMENT TO WIN THIS ELECTION
From the moment I launched my first campaign in January of 2018, I knew that this would be an all-or-nothing undertaking.
One of my first decisions as a candidate, then, was to resign my paying positions so I could maximize the time I devoted to winning this seat. What I didn’t realize was that this would be a 3-year campaign! Consequently–2 years in–I find myself among the ranks of the unemployed and drawing on my retirement savings to sustain myself. But it’s been more than worth it!
In the last 2 years, I’ve knocked on over 4,000 doors in support of myself and numerous successful candidates in both Delaware and Chester counties. I’ve attended dozens of local government and school board meetings in all 8 municipalities in the district. My conversations with voters and elected officials have deepened and broadened my understanding of what kind of representation the residents of the 160th need and want.
I advocated for common sense gun safety measures that were adopted by the Kennett Square Borough Council and Kennett Township Supervisors. On behalf of Delaware County United For Sensible Gun Policy and the NAACP, I met with senior members of Governor Wolf’s cabinet before he decided to issue his Executive Order to Reduce Gun Violence.
I facilitated the creation of the Brandywine Christina Water Fund, the nation’s first revolving water fund, uniting public and private stakeholders to ensure clean drinking water for more than 50,000 area residents.
As Vice-Chair of The Nature Conservancy in Delaware, I helped lead the critically important effort to merge with the Pennsylvania chapter and oversaw the conservation and preservation of thousands of acres.
I voiced my views in OpEds and letters to the editor that were published in the Delaware County Times, Chester County Press, Chadds Ford Live! And Southern Chester County weeklies.
I marched with like-minded activists in Washington, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Exton, Media and West Chester in support of ending gerrymandering, passing gun safety legislation, securing equal rights and gender equality, uniting families, protecting our environment and defending our Democracy.
This is the kind of commitment you can expect from me going forward: non-stop, all-in, working every day for you and for the values we share.
For me, it’s a labor of love and my way of giving back for all the opportunities this country has given me and my family.
I will always stand with you–24/7/365–and I ask that you stand with me on April 28th and beyond.
Experience I Will Bring to the Job
First and foremost, I am trained in the law. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a Political Science degree, I earned my doctorate in jurisprudence from Hofstra University Law School.
That’s important, because sometimes we forget that the job of a State Representative is fundamentally about… writing laws! (Seriously, Google “legislator” and that’s what you’ll see: “Someone who writes and passes laws!”)
Second, I know how to convert ideals and principles into practice. As Cheyney University’s Social Equity Officer, I developed, implemented and evaluated the University’s highly successful plans for diversity and inclusion. I went on to become one of the primary authors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Diversity and Inclusion plan.
Third, I know how to be a relentless and impassioned advocate. As a board member of leading conservation organizations, I have been directly involved in the greening (planting trees and other flora to beautify, cool and recharge local watersheds) of 838 acres and preserving more than 5,000 acres throughout the Delaware Valley.
And last–but perhaps most importantly–I know how to listen and forge consensus.
In the early 2000s, women and minority small business owners were receiving such a miniscule portion of PENNDOT infrastructure contracts that the federal government threatened to withhold tens of millions of dollars in highway funding.
Cheyney University had a long history of supporting and promoting disadvantaged business enterprises and so its president, believing that the University could help find a solution, asked me to get involved.
For the next several months, I traveled around the Commonwealth listening to and addressing the concerns of owners and PennDot and US Department of Transportation staff, establishing trust between the parties which led to the creation of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprises Supportive Services Center.
In spite of having no background in infrastructure projects, I was asked to lead the new initiative until we found a permanent Executive Director. My work on this project earned me the unofficial nickname ‘Chief Change Officer!’
“Growing up, “If you apply yourself to your studies and treat people the way you want to be treated, anything is possible,” was a favorite maxim often heard in my immigrant household. I was born in Washington D.C. at Freedmen’s Hospital at Howard University, where my parents had met and fallen in love. My mother Dorothy and father Anthony are both from the West Indies. While they dearly loved their native countries and the opportunities they had there, they fully believed in The American Dream. They returned to the West Indies where my mother managed her father’s furniture store and my father operated a restaurant and was a biology professor. The vision they had for obtaining The American Dream, though, later brought our entire family back to America.
COLLEGE AND BEYOND
I took my parents’ advice and followed their example. They worked incredibly hard to build a new life and so did I. I was inspired by their resilience and their unyielding belief in this country’s promise.
My sister and I had the opportunity to go to college thanks to federal Pell Grants, scholarships, subsidized student loans and part-time jobs. I graduated with a political science degree from the University of Pennsylvania and later earned my doctor of jurisprudence degree from the Hofstra University School of Law.
Along the way, I had the good fortune of coming into contact with many people who looked past my skin color and economic status and gave me a chance to succeed. But I was also an eyewitness to the huge personal and societal costs to those who were no so fortunate and who were shut out of the American Dream.
This disparity is at the heart of my commitment to help others. I have fought–and will continue to fight–until every voice in our community is heard, especially the voices of children and our most vulnerable neighbors.
- An attorney with over two decades of experience successfully fighting for poor and working class families
- An environmental champion and member of the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy
- A skilled executive and Chair of the Board of Directors of Open Connections, an educational resource center
- Advocate and member of the board of Kennett Area Community Services.
WORKING AS AN ATTORNEY
After graduating from the Hofstra University School of Law, I took a position as a Specially Appointed Public Defender in Miami, Florida, where I defended the constitutional rights of people who didn’t have enough money to hire a lawyer of their own.
During this time, I found myself at the epicenter of a legal war over juvenile sentencing practices that disproportionately harmed young black men. I joined with a team of social workers, educators and mental health professionals to create positive, meaningful and successful alternatives to incarceration.
We successfully advocated for early diversion protocols that remanded the apprehended teen to a parent, often with a stern warning and an opportunity to make amends, instead of being arrested and charged with a crime.
We enrolled my young clients in after school programs instead of having them held in pre-trial detention.
We proactively developed sentencing plans, using a multidisciplinary team approach that gave judges in adult courts permission to sentence juveniles back to Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice, where effective rehabilitation programs were offered that recognized and responded to the developmental needs of adolescents.
It was one of the most difficult yet rewarding challenges of my life.
ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF CHEYNEY UNIVERSITY
I then went to work as a senior cabinet level advisor to two Presidents of Cheyney University, the nation’s oldest Historically Black College or University (HBCU). In addition to being in charge of implementing and enforcing the rules around workplace harassment and discrimination, I had the opportunity to work on special projects. One of those was to establish and direct a campus center that enables women and minority owned small business owners to acquire the proficiency, expertise and experience necessary to compete for government contracts.
With over two decades of successfully fighting for poor and working families as an attorney, executive, educator and community activist, I will make certain that all of the residents of the district have a voice in Harrisburg. I am an experienced and proven leader who has always put people–not politics–first.
Volunteering has always been a significant and rewarding part of my life. It has allowed me to connect with the causes, people and places I feel most passionate about, while using my skills to make a difference in people’s lives.
During my 15 years living here in the 160th, I have helped grow two small non-profits (Open Connections and The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County) and helped The Nature Conservancy successfully engage with diverse communities around issues of urban conservation, health and revitalization.
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