Lauren Quinn is an Oak Park native who has traveled from Montana to California to Australia in her pursuit of education. But she calls Champaign-Urbana home now, and her goal is to make a difference in an important issue in our society.
She grew up in a family that loved to travel, so it was no surprise she ended up in Montana for college, and then to California for graduate school, where she earned a Ph.D. in plant ecology. She moved to Australia for two years for a postdoctoral research position but, after “mucking about in rivers, streams and swamps for work,” she felt the pangs of homesickness. “When I saw another postdoctoral position advertised at the University of Illinois, I applied immediately and was hired.” She moved to Urbana in 2009, met her husband, Brandon Rutherford, at the Blind Pig in early 2011, and welcomed a daughter in July 2012.
There have been horrific mass shootings in our country for decades, but none of them affected me the way Sandy Hook did. I had become a mother just five months before, and suddenly I could really imagine what it would mean to lose a child in that senseless, violent, and hateful way. I saw the coverage in an airport, and I broke down crying right then and there. Unfortunately, we have all had to witness these events and less-publicized ones time after time. I started the Central Illinois Moms group because I needed to do something. I needed not to feel helpless. I knew that other people in Central Illinois felt just as passionately as I did, and I wanted to work together with them to fight for the future of our children.
Moms Demand Action is committed to passing common sense gun laws at the state and federal levels, and is constantly fighting bills backed by the gun lobby that would make our communities less safe. Here in Central Illinois, we’re backing a state law that would require gun sellers to be licensed, which could prevent illegal gun trafficking. Supporters can join us in calling legislators and letting them know that they want an end to the gun violence that kills 88 Americans every day.
Our members are moms, dads, non-parents, Democrats, Republicans, gun owners, and non-gun owners who are concerned about the amount of gun violence we’re seeing in our country. We all get upset when a mass shooting occurs, but the majority of shootings (e.g., suicides, gang-related shootings) do not make it onto the news. As we grow locally, I want to make sure we’re representing everyone in our community that is affected by gun violence.
They can attend our events! We meet monthly at the Unitarian Church in Urbana and have additional public events every few weeks. On Dec. 12, almost exactly three years since the Sandy Hook shooting, we will be holding a rally to honor victims of gun violence, and we invite everyone to attend (meet at 1 p.m. at West Side Park). We also have a great program, called Be SMART that educates adults on ways to keep kids safe around guns. We have presented it to PTAs and to the public, and are available to present to any interested groups.
Yoga and meditation, although I will admit I need to make more time for both!
We play in our local parks!
I’m always planning my next big adventure.