Like many citizens of modern Britain, I have a unique background as an immigrant and chose to make the UK my home with pride. I was born in rural Kansas and lived there until the age of ten, when my family moved to a small town in Kentucky. My parents were both educators and I enjoyed a typical small town USA upbringing, attending the local state high school. I first lived in the United Kingdom as a university student in 1994, and moved here permanently in 2001. I was proud to become a British citizen in 2006.
Diverse political experience
I was very interested in politics from an early age, and always knew that my beliefs were left of centre. In 1993 I spent a summer working in Washington, DC for US Senator Tom Harkin (Democrat, Iowa). During my third year of university in 1994 I had the opportunity to study in London, and undertook an internship with the London Labour Party. I knew that in the Labour Party I had found my political home, and was impressed with aspects of Britain’s welfare state such as the NHS, but was much less impressed with John Major’s Conservative government.
During 1995-96, I spent a year working for the Labour Parties in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. During this year I examined the ways in which the Labour Party can advance equality for groups such as women, ethnic minorities and LGB people. I also gained valuable experience as a speechwriter and researcher in the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly and working for the Labour Party in New Zealand during the country’s transition to a proportional voting system. I also enjoyed working in the press office of the UK Labour Party in London.
I started my legal career in New York City, and in 2001 moved to London to practice as a lawyer with a major international law firm. Today I work as in-house lawyer in the City of London, where my practice is focused on securities transactions and financial services regulation.
Since 2007 I have taught a course in British Politics to university students visiting London from Centre College of Kentucky. I enjoy teaching American students about the British system of government, and my class make full use of London as a political classroom. The highlight of the course is the production of a student-written political travel guide to enable students to learn about London through its politics.
I was elected to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council in May 2010, representing Notting Barns Ward. Notting Barns was the Tories’ top target in the Royal Borough in the 2010 elections (not least because the ward includes the London home of David Cameron). The Tories needed a swing of just 3% to gain Notting Barns, but my fellow Labour candidates and I achieved a swing from Conservative to Labour of 8.5%. It is my privilege to represent the residents of Notting Barns as their Councillor, and I particularly like using my legal skills to assist residents in their dealings with the Council.
I formed a civil partnership with Mark Sautter in 2006, and we live near Notting Hill Gate with our Belgian Schipperke dog, Jackie. Outside politics, my interests include cooking, travel, making mosaics and speaking French and German.
I hold a B.A. in political science and French from Grinnell College; a J.D. (US law degree) from the University of Pennsylvania Law School; and an LL.M. in Banking and Finance Law from King’s College, London. I have been a member of Unite the Union for many years.