Connie has called Concord home for 32 years, raising her two sons, practicing law, and devoting time to her community in the schools, her church, and as a member on numerous nonprofit boards. Her sons and stepsons are “launched” across the country, and she lives and works in Concord with her husband, dog, and cat.
Since arriving in New Hampshire, Connie has been a stalwart advocate for affordable housing because she believes providing affordable housing to all encourages and supports the economic and community development of the Granite State. She has worked with the NH Community Loan Fund to assist manufactured housing owners form cooperatives to purchase the parks in which their homes are located. She has also donated hundreds of hours of legal services to numerous affordable housing projects in the Concord area. Connie was one of the founders of CATCH Neighborhood Housing, a local affordable housing nonprofit, and served on its Board of Directors for two terms. She currently is on the Board of New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority which promotes, finances, and supports affordable housing for NH residents.
Connie knows that public schools are the bedrock of a vibrant democracy. While her sons were in the Concord school system, Connie volunteered to be room parent, ski chaperone, and dedicated “Crew” parent. She witnessed how shortages of supplies, books, art supplies, computers, and adequate recreational facilities affected the ability of teachers and administrators to teach our children. As a member of the board of Concord Trust for the Enhancement of Public Education, she participated in the awarding of grants to teachers who wanted to introduce innovation into their classrooms.
During her years as a legal aid attorney, Connie learned first-hand the importance of Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and other assistance programs for low-income individuals. Many of her clients were forced into poverty due to a disability, mental health issues, domestic violence, or caring for another family member with those issues. She saw the heartbreak that substance abuse brings to families and helped them obtain assistance for the financial and medical challenges they faced. She has represented domestic violence victims and worked to expand services for those victims with crisis centers and other legal aid programs. Connie helped found Legal Advice & Referral Center, which was recognized nationally as a leader in expanding legal services to low-income individuals.
Connie is a shareholder in Orr & Reno, a law firm in Concord. As an owner of a small business, she recognizes the challenges facing businesses in New Hampshire, including the rising cost of health insurance, rent, lack of qualified employees, and taxes.
As chair of Red River Theatres, Connie has been in the midst of the rejuvenation of downtown Concord. Red River has been an integral participant in the revitalization of Concord and is an example of how critical arts are to economic growth. Under her leadership, Red River has renovated its third theater and hired a new executive director.
As an active member of the Concord Unitarian Universalist church for many years, Connie served that community as a Sunday school teacher, covenant group leader, and coordinated the annual Thanksgiving basket program for families in need in the Concord community.
Why I'm Running for Office
I want to insure that NH reflects the values that our country was founded upon – equal justice and opportunity for all. Every person should have a shot at the American dream, regardless of race, income, gender, faith, or sexual orientation. To be a successful State, we must provide quality public education, affordable housing and health care, jobs that provide a livable wage, and a voting process that insures that every inhabitant of NH can exercise their most important right – the right to vote. If we do this, our economy will grow, and we will be the envy of other states. Who would not want to live in State that cares about its people, and puts their interests first?
One of my heroes is my pro bono client who has fought tenaciously for over 20 years to take care of her son, who was born with cerebral palsy. Her life changed the day he was born – she had to give up her job to take care of him; it destroyed her marriage, and she had to take her child’s father to court countless times to enforce child support and alimony. She fought the school system for services, as well as the State. I lost count of how many caseworkers at DHHS her son has had over the years. She often trained them on the regulations and forms. Her tenacity and love are an inspiration. Sadly, her story is all too common. It is often disability, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, or medical trauma that drives a family into debt or poverty. My client could not support her son or her family without Concord’s excellent public schools, Medicaid, SSI, Section 8 housing, food stamps, and countless other programs designed to help the most vulnerable in our society.
When I think of my legal aid and pro bono clients, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had not been blessed with a great education and healthy children. I was lucky to have parents who emphasized the importance of education and made sure we lived in neighborhoods with the best public schools. We were all healthy. My Dad had a college degree thanks to the GI bill, and a good job with IBM that provided health insurance. We were white in the Deep South. I wasn’t aware of how privileged that made me until I was a young adult, but it made a huge difference. While my parents paid for much of college and law school, I worked as a waitress, secretary, clerk, librarian, and retailer to help. During my legal career, I have had jobs that provided health insurance so that when my children had medical crises, they could get treated without sending my family into spiraling debt and my employer did not fire me when I had to take off time to care for my children when they were sick or when my husband was battling cancer. My son was able to go to Boston Children’s Hospital for his kidney issues that baffled doctors in Concord and Dartmouth. My husband was able to go to top doctors in Boston for his cancer treatments. Both are doing well today, but we were lucky. Not everyone is. Luck should not be a factor in providing education and health care.
I know what it is like to be discriminated against because of my gender. Fortunately, I am persistent and patient. I was able to achieve the American dream, but not everyone is so fortunate. The discrimination that I endured does not hold a candle to the racism and xenophobia that is prevalent in our society. My experiences, though, show me how important it is to be vigilant and to fight for these basic civil rights so that NH truly embodies the values set out in both the US and NH Constitution