My father, Richard, served in the Marines, became a public school teacher, put himself through law school, and was appointed as a judge. My mother, Kim, worked as a receptionist at several companies before working in the office at my grandfather’s small electrical contracting business. Both devout Methodists and the children of WWII veterans, my parents embraced service as a way of life. They taught Sunday school, led church youth group, and organized charity events and drives. It was important to them that service be at the center of my life.
When I was three, my dad died of leukemia. While my recollections of him are vague, my mom and grandmother, Pat, encouraged me to embrace his commitments to justice and fairness, which they shared, and his passions for learning and service that extended to civic life. These strong and independent women also modeled, and instilled in me the values of integrity, empathy, conviction, hard work, and perseverance.
Growing up, this was the foundation for developing an early interest in government and politics, which ultimately led me to pursue a college degree in political science to learn how public policy could improve the lives of people by making healthcare accessible and affordable for all, providing a quality education for all students regardless of zip code, creating economic opportunity for all, protecting our air and water and natural environment, and ensuring fairness and equal opportunity.
Working to improve lives and create a more vibrant democracy has been my life’s work. For more than a decade, I worked to end discrimination against LGBT Americans. I served on the leadership teams of organizations that helped to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Act and to end to the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military, and that won the freedom to marry at the ballot box in our state in 2012. Afterwards, I started a project management consulting business to help local nonprofits better serve vulnerable and underrepresented populations.
In 2013, I was honored to be elected by Gorham voters to serve on the School Committee. During my three-year term, I worked to expand Kindergarten to an all-day program, give students a voice in district decision-making, and promote financial literacy education. I also collaborated with colleagues to identify cost-savings in the budget during the LePage years, when revenue-sharing to towns was significantly diminished. We produced common sense budget compromises that ensured Gorham students continued to receive a great education at a price taxpayers could afford. As a result, our budgets were overwhelmingly supported by voters.
Increasingly alarmed in recent years by the influence of special interests and the ability of the powerful and well-connected to bend public policy to their will, I began working on election reforms to put power back in the hands of the people and give more voice to voters. In 2016 and 2018, I led the grassroots campaigns that won and defended Maine’s landmark ranked-choice voting law.
In 2019, I completed my M.A. in Policy, Planning, and Management from the University of Southern Maine. My husband, Andrew McLean, is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law and is completing his final term in the Maine House. We are homeowners and live in the Gorham village. I enjoy traveling, playing the piano, watching movies, cooking, reading, and spending time with family, including with my mom, who lives in North Gorham, and at camp on Sokokis Lake in Limerick during the summer months.