I am a physician who has practiced in Minnesota for 18 years and has been active in our community serving on boards that advocate for women’s health, the literary arts, and eliminating racism. I am a sixth-generation Minnesotan with a deep history in our state and community. I am running for the Minnesota House because I am concerned about the current state of political discourse. Minnesota is a unique state that has a history of innovative leadership that often provides an example for the rest of the country. We need to continue that leadership tradition.
My parents, who are both native Minnesotans, instilled a love of our state in my brother and me. We spent summers at a lake in northern Minnesota and took great pride in the beauty of our state. We learned to cheer for our beloved Vikings, Twins, and North Stars (and later Wild) together. Our parents modeled civic engagement for us, with their deep involvement in the community as volunteers and board members.
I was born and grew up in Minneapolis, attending Jefferson Elementary. I loved to play tennis and ride my bike to my friends’ houses. My father’s job moved us to Mexico City. There I learned to speak Spanish and had the profound experience of being “other” for the first time. We returned to Minnesota where I completed high school.
I was a competitive tennis player in high school but sustained a back injury that required surgery and changed the trajectory of my life. With my total commitment to tennis gone, I redirected my time and energies toward new interests. I attended Yale University, and, while there, I worked for the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group and raised money and awareness for environmental protections. I volunteered at New Haven Legal Aid, assisting lawyers who were helping people who couldn’t afford to pay for legal help. I was also a Big Sister to two local girls and volunteered in the emergency room at Yale New Haven Hospital. My own injury, my desire to help others, and my work in the ER fueled my interest in medicine.
I graduated cum laude with a B.A. in History and headed to Boston to complete my pre-medical requirements at Boston University. I then worked as a medical assistant and phlebotomist at a community health center in Allston, Massachusetts prior to attending medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I graduated Alpha Omega Alpha from Case Western and then completed my residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University. I was Chief Resident during my fourth and final year.
Family Life and Career
A mutual friend introduced me to John Willoughby during my third year of medical school, and we were married in Minneapolis the following year. John was ROTC in college, eventually became an Army Ranger, and served in Germany and Somalia. We’ve been married for more than 20 years, and he is a wonderful husband and father and a great partner! While he is not a native Minnesotan, John has the zeal of a convert and loves everything about our state. He has led our family on many excursions in the Boundary Waters, enjoys winter camping, and Nordic skiing. He has served on the board of the Nature Conservancy, and he is very involved in our son’s Boy Scout Troop (he was an Eagle Scout himself). His Minnesota pride extends into his career, as he works for Target.
Upon completion of my residency, we chose to move back to Minnesota to raise our family. We have three amazing children who are now 20, 17, and 15. They have grown up in Minneapolis and Deephaven and learned to play soccer, hockey, and football in Minnetonka. When we’re not cheering them on the sidelines, we love to camp and go up north as a family.
I have practiced Obstetrics and Gynecology for more than eighteen years in Minneapolis and have enjoyed a wonderful career. It is a tremendous honor to participate in and be present with women during their most exhilarating and most challenging moments, and I am grateful to have had that opportunity.
I am a listener by profession, and I want to continue to do that — listening to the concerns of the people of our community, and listening to people who have different ideas than I do. I believe that it is critically important that we all spend more time listening, rather than talking over each other or tuning each other out. Minnesota has been a leader in many areas, especially health care, education, and the environment.