July | August 2017

Rena Moran

Minnesota State Representative

By Mary Branham, CSG Managing Editor
When Rena Moran talks about poverty, she knows from whence she speaks. Moran, a mother of four sons and three daughters, was living in her native Chicago and was ready to change the path of her sons’ lives. Moran and her children started their lives in Minnesota at Mary’s Place, a temporary homeless shelter in Minneapolis. She learned to navigate the human services system that helps those in poverty and set goals for herself to improve her life. She eventually worked as a Wellstone fellow to engage, educate and empower the African-American community politically. That led to her seeking, and winning, a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Her brush with poverty affects her work in the legislature. “It has shaped a lot, especially as I look at the child welfare system and the people we call, ‘those welfare folks,’” she said. She is a strong advocate for that system, but through a different model, “one where we are creating laws and policies that help people climb up and out, not ones that keep them stuck at a place.” Her experience also impacts other legislators. “My story and my journey help other legislators see that system differently,” she said. “It’s not one of dependency, but one there as a safety net to move people to another place.”