You and Brian are both transplants to the Milwaukee area — you came for college and never left. What made you want to stay?
We were really fortunate to develop really good friends, and a lot of them have stayed around here. We view them more as family now, because both of us don’t live super close to our families. Also, Milwaukee — there’s something about this place. We can’t explain it. It’s kind of magnetic in a way. The lake is something both of us find to be really special.
What exactly does an innovation manager do?
I basically help start new businesses for Johnsonville. I do everything from go out and talk to consumers about what they like and dislike about sausage, and what are some new ideas and new opportunities that we can explore, and helping develop that through a finished product that we bring to market. It’s not something I ever thought I would do, but I’ve grown to realize it’s a really good match for my skills.
Has your Catholic faith always been a big part of your life?
I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school my entire life, but I would say my faith didn’t start having tremendous meaning until high school and college, when I was able to go on some mission trips and retreats that allowed me to do service for others and just see and appreciate the world and other worldviews. When I was younger, it was just “what you do,” and a lot of the meaning I didn’t appreciate until later in life when I could see it in action a little bit more.
How did you become involved with the St. Bakhita Catholic Worker House?
It was a work of God, I’m certain. I’ve always had this yearning in my heart to make sure I’m doing something that God wants me to do with my life. Probably just over a year ago, this feeling was really prominent on my mind, and I was browsing LinkedIn one day and saw Anne Haines’ post about her new endeavor, the St. Bakhita Catholic Worker House. I had just been talking to my husband about needing to get involved in something I feel passionate about, and women and children have always been close to my heart in terms of things I like to support. The fact that this was for women who are trying to get beyond a life of sexual exploitation, the cause really resonated with me.
“Faith in action” is something that really means a lot to you. How does this organization show faith in action?
It’s one of the first things I told Anne that I like about this whole idea — at its very core, it’s doing exactly what Jesus asked us to do. It’s serving a population of people that many would choose to ignore or not acknowledge because it’s not a pretty face of society that any of us want to realize is there. For us to so directly claim: “This is who we’re serving, and this is what we’re about and we’re going to have zero qualms with doing so” — for me, it’s such a direct reflection of what Jesus asked us to do.
What do you want people to know about the women that are served by this organization?
They can serve as such inspirations for us all. Frankly, they’ve had some of the toughest experiences in life that a person might want to have and they continue to want to do better, and that’s why they’re at St. Bakhita. They want to do better, and they’re striving for a better life and for healing. There’s so much we can learn from that. These women are just incredible examples of strength and courage and perseverance and hope.
Your family loves sports — who are your favorite teams?
My husband is from Illinois, so he’s a Chicago sports fanatic. I would say, for me, Marquette basketball — women’s and men’s. I love watching Marquette women’s volleyball, too. Sports are a central part of our life mostly because five months out of the year my husband is coaching basketball and we’re going to games. We’ll see where our kids net out — I’m curious to see if they will love sports as much as we do.