1. I was born in The Netherlands and came to the United States as an exchange student. However, the exchange program allowed me to do volunteer work instead of attending school. I worked in a day care center, which -- upon my return to the US -- employed me for ten years, first as an assistant teacher, then as a preschool classroom teacher. I loved the job, although it didn’t pay well. It taught me how important it is for our government to provide adequate child care funding.

2. My PE high school teacher had spent a year in the United States and brought back an enthusiasm for basketball, which was not a very popular sport in Holland at that time. Our high school subsequently became a basketball powerhouse in the country. I was a mediocre player on the B-team, in a league that also included a team of students from a nearby American Air Force base. They beat us regularly.

3. I studied journalism in college in The Netherlands. I never became a practicing journalist, but I am still a news junky. I also still love to write and have for years been working on a novel about a Dutch correspondent in Washington. Maybe I will finish it next summer…

4. I am a “naturalized” citizen of the United States. What I remember from my naturalization test is having to write the sentence “I want to be a U.S. citizen.” The photo below is from my naturalization certificate. They allowed me to stay in the country anyway...

5. After my day care career I went to school for social work and became employed at the (now defunct) Human Services Planning Council in Schenectady, NY. Since I missed working with kids, I went back for a master’s degree in special education and worked as a special ed teacher in preschool programs and at a middle school. Subsequently, I switched careers once more and became a school social worker.

6. In the middle of the economic downturn of 2008 and being totally ignorant of the need for a business plan, I had the less than brilliant idea to open a Dutch pancake house in Scotia, NY. My family helped out and we operated Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I made the pancakes (like crepes) and we sold Dutch cookies and candy. After eight months we threw in the towel.

7. For self-care I love to read, short-story fiction in particular. I used to exercise pretty consistently and once, a long time ago, ran a marathon. I hate indoor gyms, so more recently I tried working out by riding a kick scooter. However, I decided (with input from my children) that I probably put myself at risk of serious injury and switched to riding a recumbent bike (see photo). Kids in the neighborhood often ask “where did you get that?”

8. Apparently, I believe in life-long learning and, as a somewhat older student, I finished a doctoral degree in social work at the University at Albany, which I had pursued on a part-time basis for several years. I then applied for the position at Siena College and am now an Associate Professor in the social work program here. Previously, I taught as an adjunct at UAlbany and Fulton Montgomery Community College. While on the faculty at Siena, I was fortunate to also teach a couple of courses at Greene Correctional Facility through a program called Hudson Link. It was a wonderful experience from which I learned at least as much as my students there did. 

9. My doctoral dissertation focused on the role of school social workers in advocating for transgender and nonbinary students. During that time, transgender students were not as “out” as many are now. Fortunately, there have been positive changes in that regard. I continue to do research with regard to transgender issues, specifically in social work education and in institutions that are faith-based.

10. Our family includes two kids, two dogs, and two cats. I will honor my kids’ privacy, but can disclose that, in terms of pets, I am a true cat person. Cats are curious and unpredictable. I can watch cat videos like other people binge on Netflix. By the way: One of our cats is 20+ pounds and, when laying down, looks like a butterball turkey.