Vanessa has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from The University of Chapel Hill—North Carolina where she also worked as an education and outreach coordinator for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Upon arriving in Iowa, she earned a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University Iowa. She currently works as an Environmental & Community Planner for Iowa Valley RC&D, a non-profit organization that provides community food systems, planning, and placemaking in Iowa. She is passionate about addressing health, equity, and gender issues along class/privilege lines. A former Fulbright Scholar in the Philippines, she studied bamboo-centered policies that impacted economically marginalized communities in a country of origin. Vanessa volunteers as the Vice Chair for the Iowa City Housing and Community Development Commission and is a member the Steering Committee for Iowa Women For Water, an organization centered on bringing women’s voices and experiences to the forefront of the political conversation on Iowa’s water quality issues. In her free time she loves to grow and eat vegetables, spend time with her family, and ride her bamboo bike across Iowa.