Being from Illinois, where a lot of politicians have gone to jail, running for office was never a goal or aspiration.
When my parents bought my childhood home, a lady came with it. The house had been a “women’s home.” Belva didn’t have anywhere to go. My parents welcomed her into the family and took care of her until she passed away. And some of my first birthday party pictures have “extra” kids in them, our foster siblings.
I wanted to be a psychiatrist, but medical school was not an option: blood and needles? No thank you! So, I became a mental health counselor: disability services, inpatient psych, outpatient counseling, in home therapy, children’s home social services, 24 hour house parenting, foster care, managed care…
As foster parents, it became obvious. The system was broken. Our kids had been promoted in school without being able to read. Records wouldn’t come quick enough to help with healthcare or education goals. Team meetings came with too many managers and too little help. I decided that I could help more people if I changed the system.
So I ran for the state house. I lost. I won. I won again. And, I lost. In the middle, we reformed mental health system in Iowa. Since then, I have been part of writing regulations, building state strategic plans, implementing system change and building relationships to continue improving the healthcare system.
I am Renee Schulte, and I’m a policy wonk.