I have been involved in politics for as long as I can remember. I was born in Des Moines, Iowa, to politically-active parents at the height of the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, and the Space Race. I remember phone calls from both President Carter and Ted Kennedy before the 1980 primary. I sat next to Geraldine Ferraro during a luncheon. I have two framed pictures I took of my daughter shaking hands with Hillary Clinton, first in 2008 and again in 2016.
My roots in Iowa run just as deep. My father is from Lost Nation, Iowa, in the eastern part of the state, on the edge of Clinton County. He was a farm boy in Washington, D.C., a student at Georgetown University when he met my mom. She was Swiss and came to the U.S. in the 1940s. They married and had my four older brothers and sisters as my dad finished law school at Georgetown.
I was the first Iowa baby. My parents moved to Iowa in the 1960s with my four older siblings. Dad had a job with Model Cities, one of the programs established as part of Johnson's Great Society package. My three younger sisters completed our family. Growing up one of eight kids was not so unusual when we were young. We knew families with eight, ten, even twelve kids. Our house was loud and busy and filled with books. My parents relied on books and comic books to give them a moment's peace every once in a while. In the 1970s, we moved across the state to Clinton, allowing us to be closer to my grandparents on the farm.
I attended the Catholic schools in Clinton and went on to Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, for my undergraduate degree. In the seven years after college, I did a lot: I got my teaching license in Indiana; I worked in Switzerland for a non-governmental organization for nurses; taught high school in Indianapolis; and started law school at the University of Iowa College of Law. While in law school, I worked for WestLaw, the legal research company, and served as president of the National Lawyers' Guild, a progressive activist group for lawyers. After law school, I took a year off, considering my options while working at my dad and sister's law office. I learned a lot in law school but my interest in education and schooling hadn't diminished. In 1999, I enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Iowa College of Education. In 2007, I defended my dissertation on open enrollment and became Dr. Christy Wolfe.
For 15 years, I was an assistant professor in the Education Department at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. I worked with students interested in becoming teachers. I had the pleasure of teaching the introductory education course, helping students shift their thought processes from "student" to "teacher." I worked primarily with students interested in being middle, junior, or high school teachers. I am really proud of the work I did with future teachers (several of whom are teachers in the ICCSD now!) and I had a front-row seat to the rolling waves of education reform. We learned about the Iowa Core, standards-based grading, authentic assessment, and many other important aspects of teaching and learning. But we also learned about depression and anxiety, implicit bias of teachers, and--unfortunately--we had to talk about how safe schools were, as there was a school shooting with mass casualties every single semester I taught at Coe. I continue to be in awe of young people who enter the profession of teaching despite all they know about the demands, both intellectually and emotionally, teachers face daily.
My spouse, Dan Carrell, is a middle school language arts teacher in the Cedar Rapids school district. My daughter, Lizzie, works in the community and is known for her blonde curly hair and her amazing smile and kindness. My son, Jack, is a first-year student at the University of Iowa, enjoying dorm life and actually being in class, as opposed to virtual learning. We were lucky in that my kids went to Hoover, Southeast, and City and they could walk to all three. They got stellar educations and incredible support from the teachers, counselors, and administrators at their schools. Look for Jack this summer on the baseball field at City Park--he umpires games for the kids' city league.
We live on the corner of High Street and Morningside, right across the street from City High. We bought our house 21 years ago this summer through the Greater Iowa City Housing Fellowship (now the Housing Fellowship). I love to share with people that our house was built by 16- and 17-year-old students from the high school; the voc/tech program at the local high schools partnered with the Home Builders Association to build a house each year which was sold through the Fellowship. Even after two decades in the house, I still appreciate the pencil marks I can see on the molding throughout the house and the way the stairs are just slightly more narrow at the top than at the bottom (a unique problem the guy who recarpeted the stairs pointed out).
To me, Iowa is home, family, and friends. I would be honored to represent Iowa House District 90 at the state capitol in Des Moines.