Seminar: Women & Public Policy (2000)
Occupation: Minnesota State Representative-District 51B
Education: Masters of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; BA in Political Science and English, St. Catherine University (A PLEN Member School)
In Minnesota, Laurie Halverson always valued public service and her relationship with her community, but never considered running for the Minnesota House of Representatives. That all changed in 2012, when she was asked to run for the Minnesota State Legislature as the Representative from her hometown of Eagan.
When asked about her decision to run for the Minnesota House, Laurie explained, “It wasn’t something on my mind, people approached me about it.” Her community involvement clearly made her the perfect candidate to serve her district, but initially, Laurie was hesitant. However, Laurie gained confidence in running because of the support from her network of friends, who helped her run her successful campaign. “Coming from a women’s college and attending the PLEN seminar, work, life, balance, was the forefront of all discussions. I had to let go of the idea that I had to do it all myself and not be my mother’s generation. I had to be okay with people helping me.”
In 2000, during her junior year at the College of St. Catherine, Laurie traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the Women & Public Policy Seminar. Laurie explained that PLEN provided a vision for what students can do as women leaders, “PLEN introduced me to the areas of public policy where women were making all of the difference. It was striking for me to see so many women in positions of power and so many change makers.”
Laurie specifically remembers the two speakers that resonated with her the most at the seminar: Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton and Vivian Pinn, director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH). “These women stressed the need for women’s voices,” said Laurie.
Following graduation in 2002, Laurie worked as a senior public affairs consultant for nearly six years at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, where she led grassroots and civic engagement efforts. Concurrently, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in 2004. In 2008, Laurie decided to leave her position at Blue Cross Blue Shield, and dedicate her time taking care of her son. As a stay-at-home mom, Laurie became more connected to her community, as a volunteer for the Eagan Advisory Parks and Recreation Commission, eventually becoming the chair in 2010. She also was a Citizens League member, an organization in Minnesota proposes solutions to public policy problems faced by citizens.