Getting To Know Winnie
Growing up on a dairy farm as the daughter of Dutch immigrants, Winnie learned at a young age what hard work meant. After losing her father at the age of six, she watched her mother raise five children and run the family’s farm — setting an example for resilience and determination that Winnie has carried with her to this day. She has passed these lessons from her youth on to her three daughters, Olivia, Annalise and Emma. She and her husband, Steve, who has taught Spanish in both Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids Public Schools for more than twenty-five years, made a commitment to demonstrate to their daughters what it means to serve others and give back to their community.
Before running for state representative, Winnie worked as a caseworker at The Source where she helped businesses and nonprofits improve workplaces, while helping companies grow and retain employees. Prior to that, she served as the executive director of a community-based corrections agency and as a school paraprofessional at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools. She also was previously named PTA Member of the Year.
In the state House of Representatives from 2012 to 2018, Winnie worked to ensure every child has access to a world-class education, fought to end abuse and neglect at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, and led the fight to protect West Michigan’s drinking water. Winnie is dedicated to keeping Grand Rapids and West Michigan an economic leader, supporting small businesses and the people who work for them.
Elected to the State Senate in 2018, Winnie became the first woman to represent Grand Rapids in the state Senate since Eva McCall Hamilton, who was the first woman elected to the Michigan Senate in 1921. Michigan needs dedicated, principled, passionate women’s voices like Winnie’s in the chamber, and she is proud to be part of the first caucus in the history of the Michigan Legislature to achieve gender parity.
Winnie is honored to serve as an advocate for her constituents, and she knows how important it is to reinvest in the people of Michigan. She is a capable lawmaker who doesn’t shy away from tough issues and effectively brings legislators together. Winnie has gained the respect of voters and constituents of all political affiliations as a hardworking, thoughtful and accessible public servant.
Winnie enjoys gardening, reading, getting outside, cooking with her husband, and hearing about the adventures of their three adult daughters.