Penny has a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and Math Education from Purdue and a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from IU. She taught science and math as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, followed by years of experience in the education and public policy. She is now a County Commissioner, where her focus has been on homelessness, health, and issues surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders. When asked about her work experience, Penny said:

“I approach tasks with a sense of collaboration, hard work, energy and persistence. Last fall, when a reporter interviewed me about annexation, I described myself as a Woman Warrior – not Wonder Woman – but someone who consistently fights for - and with - those without a voice.”

When Penny and her husband returned to Indiana with their sons, Nathan and Nick, she became a stay-at-home mom. She did this, in part, to help her older son who has autism. During this phase of her life, she served on the boards of both the Bloomington and the Indiana Autism Societies, and worked with many families as a volunteer educational advocate. She also spent many hours volunteering with her son’s schools, and served as a volunteer at the Monroe County YMCA. It was her involvement with the autism community that led to her first exposure to politics when she led the successful movement to mandate health insurance coverage for those with autism. When thinking about that period of her life, Penny said:

“I fought hard for my son and for other individuals and families in Indiana who live with autism. I will bring that same energy and passion to serving the interests of the residents of District 62.”

Penny grew up in Richmond, Indiana, and has seen many changes over the years. Decades ago, teachers were respected and earned a living wage. Today, teachers in Indiana are underpaid, which has led to a severe shortage and dwindling numbers in teacher education programs. We need to increase funding for education.

The COVID pandemic has brought about an even greater shortage of reliable, quality childcare. One way to ease that problem is to establish universal pre-K in Indiana, bringing 4-year-olds into our schools, which will decrease the number of children vying for those limited childcare spaces.

Previously, a single wage-earner could support a family. Now, in a household with two adults working full-time at minimum wage, there is not enough income to pay for housing, food, healthcare, and childcare. We need to increase the minimum wage.

Years ago, Indiana had a network of state-sponsored hospitals which housed those with mental illness. While that approach to treating mental illness has largely ended, many of those who would have been institutionalized in the past, now end up in our jails and prisons or are part of our unhoused homeless. Penny wants to expand treatment for those with mental illness and substance use disorders.  

These are not new problems, they have been decades in the making. Penny observed:

“We need to reverse these trends, and as I learned long ago, we can’t just sit on the sidelines expecting someone else to do it. I look forward to serving District 62 to help bring about these changes."