Right now, our country is headed in the wrong direction, and we all need to do our part to help get it back on track. I’m not a politician, and I’ve never held elected office. But now I’m running for Congress, because my whole life has been about service and advocacy. I’ve been an international aid worker in some of the most vulnerable places around the world. That means I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and come up with innovative solutions to our most pressing challenges.
I joined the Peace Corps after college, working in Morocco for five years as a teacher and a health educator. After I earned a master’s degree in public health, I continued my international work, going wherever the need was greatest – places like Cambodia, Congo, and Afghanistan. I ran local non-profits, made sure people had access to clean water, launched a hospital reconstruction project and set up refugee camps.
A few years ago, I went to Liberia in West Africa to help fight Ebola. I watched that summer of 2014 as the epidemic got worse and worse, and decided I needed to help. I joined a team setting up a 100-bed field hospital that could treat patients in a safe and humane setting. Luckily, by the time I left, the outbreak was starting to fade.
I learned valuable lessons during my many years spent in the field: hire good people and trust them to do good work, manage carefully the money sent in by donors and build on existing efforts instead of reinventing the wheel. But the most important lesson was to not be afraid to stand up and take action when called, no matter the obstacles.
While working back in the U.S. as a humanitarian advocate, I met my husband, Columbus native Tom Grote. After getting married in 2007, we adopted two beautiful girls, and I became a stay-at-home dad. Because our marriage wasn’t recognized by the government, we joined the fight for civil rights and marriage equality. It felt great to win that fight and know our family was protected by the law just like other married couples.
Now, I’m driven to confront new threats, and to stand up for what’s right. I’m not a career politician, but I’m a passionate public servant. I’m not beholden to special interests, to lobbyists or to the establishment. I stand with Ohioans, and I’m ready to keep working for a better future – for everyone.