Teresa may be the poorest person to run for Congress in modern times. She is disabled and like so many subsists on disability. That is not the most important thing to know about her, however.
She is from a blue-collar family with deep roots in Southwest Missouri. Teresa's parents grew up in Taney County. Her maternal grandparents (her grandmother's family had deep roots in Christian County) and Greene County (her grandfather was born in Springfield), moving to Taney after their marriage. Her paternal grandparents were from Taney County. Teresa's father joined the Air Force where they spent the next 20 years stationed across this country and Europe (waiting on him during a very tense year while he was in Vietnam). Except while they were stationed in Europe, Teresa's family returned to the Ozarks every year to visit family where enduring bonds were reinforced with family. Teresa learned to love shooting, fishing, camping, hiking, water skiing feeding the chickens, milking cows (brushing them much to her grandfather's amusement) and spending time with cousins at Table Rock Lake. She had a younger brother, a Marine Corp. veteran and a younger sister. Southwest Missouri is her home. Before returning to school at MSU she was an accountant. After earning her masters she attended KU continue her education. She is an educator and was an Executive Director of non-profits.
Attending 12 schools in 11 years, Teresa graduated from McCluer High School, Florissant, MO. Teresa's parents retired to Springfield in the spring of 1974 and she joined them in late summer. Wherever life took her SW Missouri is the place she calls home. It was here that she gave birth to two beautiful daughters whom she cherishes to this day. Unfortunately, her eldest daughter passed away in October of 2015. Eight years before her death she gave birth to a daughter who Teresa loves dearly.
Several interactions and events during her formative years shaped her values, desire to learn, and sense of social and political justice. Her family was deeply religious. Teresa believed the norm of U.S. society included the inclusiveness living on Air Force base across the country and in Europe. Until transferring to Virginia where her parents bought a home. She noticed the neighborhood was all white but, April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and those same neighbors ran out into their front yards and the street celebrating his murder. She was shocked and that began her civil rights activism. Political activism also became key to her everyday life.
Her love of learning and deep desire to make the country a better place, for all, led her to become an educator, mentor, and so much more. She learned humility from her maternal grandmother who lived in the family household. Perhaps this is why she learned early that being intelligent and educated is all about knowing the more you learn the less you know.
While Teresa volunteered for many campaigns including Gabby Gifford and John McCain she was able to negotiate working across party lines. Teresa's empathy, experience, and desire for a better country is what led her to make a decision she never thought about until this past fall. Many citizens of the 7th U.S. Congressional District from every political persuasion expressed their frustration with the incumbent and politics as usual.
She saw a need, the people of Southwest Missouri deserve an honest, accessible Congressional Representative. Teresa will be what all Southwest Missourians need in Washington.
It's US not me.