My story, in brief
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and I'm a first-generation American. Coincidentally, my German father and Swedish mother each migrated to the United States before crossing paths in Hollywood. Though I grew up in Los Angeles, I spent my childhood summers and winters with family in Northern Germany and rural Sweden.
I have studied anthropology since I began my undergraduate studies at the Colorado College. As a curious freshman bewildered by the innumerable possibilities for majors, I chose anthropology because it brought together my varied interests in religion, philosophy, art, medicine, society, and the environment. Essentially, I was seeking a discipline that strove to understand how people imbue their lives with meaning by appreciating the multifaceted expressions of culture.
In 1999, I wrote an Honors Thesis on the relevance of symbolism to healing in biomedical contexts after I studied shamanism and ethnomedicine in the forests of Belize. I then traveled to Ecuador to learn Spanish and pursue my interest in ethnomedicine, and became involved in the establishment of a health center on the Northwest coast. To help support this project, I co-founded a non-profit organization called The Minga Foundation in 2003. We continue to provide funding, logistical support, and programming assistance to this project, and we are currently supporting projects in Uganda, Malawi, and Ecuador. Through my work with this NGO (non-governmental organization), I have had the opportunity to participate in community-led development efforts and to reflect deeply on their relevance for global health. In addition, I have conducted sustained research since 2002 to examine how gender, violence and subjectivities are intertwined and reshaped through increasing awareness of human rights in rural Ecuador.