I was born and raised in St. Paul, MN. At a young age I was introduced to sports and fell in love with volleyball. Upon graduating from Cretin-Derham Hall High School, I received a scholarship to play college volleyball at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI. I double majored in Communication and Spanish. After NMU, I ventured to the Southwest and started graduate school at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ, where I earned my M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication.
In 2008 I started working at the University of Kansas. I am currently an Associate Professor and the Director of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in the Department of Communication Studies. I routinely teach undergraduate and graduate courses such as Introduction to Interpersonal Communication; Communication, Leadership, and Conflict Management; Family Communication; Stress and Coping; and Behavioral and Social Science Research Methods. My research examines the intersection of communication processes, mental health, family functioning, and relationship quality within the context of family relationships (i.e., sibling relationships, marital dyads, and parent-child dyads and triads).
I am also the Director of the Institute for Leadership Studies (ILS) at KU. The ILS provides students an opportunity to learn how to do the work of leadership by developing a core set of leadership habits and leadership competencies. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered. The ILS is also the home to programs such as the Kansas Women's Leadership Institute (KWLI), Women's Global Leadership Consortium (WGLC), Ready to Run Kansas, and Empowerment, Gender, and Leadership. I am the Co-PI of the WGLC and Academic Director of the KWLI. The WGLC is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, whose mission is to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. This program is a partnership between four colleges and universities from across the U.S. Together, the WGLC partners (University of Kansas, Green River College, the University of Delaware, and Saint Mary's College) host the Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) Young Women Leaders program, with the University of Kansas serving as the primary implementing partner. Every summer, the KWLI and partners host undergraduate leaders from countries and home locations deemed to be at risk for women's and children's issues. For 5 intensive weeks, participants learn to develop leadership competencies, cultivate a spirit of collaboration, and elevate the power of women’s voices.