Irene retired from a 20 year career in K-12 public schools as a Special Education teacher, first working for Seattle schools and upon moving to Texas, for Killeen ISD.  She joined the Texas State Teachers Association and is now a lifetime member of Texas Retired Teachers Association.

Irene grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where she met her wife Joan Hinshaw.  They made Texas their home in 2000 to be closer to family and they were finally able to marry in 2013, having been together 37 years.

Irene’s concern for caregivers and their need for support motivated her to join TSHL after she and her wife cared for Joan’s elderly parents in their home for 8 years.  She is a member of the Central Texas Area Agency on Aging Advisory Committee and has served as its Chair since 2019.  Irene is also a member of the City of  Nolanville’s Comprehensive Plan Transportation Task Force Committee, working with Texas A&M’s ENDEAVR Project to bring autonomous transportation to underserved people in her community.

In addition to her interests in caregiving, transportation, and affordable housing for seniors, Irene advocates on behalf of the LGBTQI+ community and organizes a biannual Bell County Voter Palooza event to register voters.  She has been a Volunteer Deputy Registrar and Election Judge for more than ten years and recruits others to do the same.  She is passionate about protecting and expanding the Voter’s access to the polls and mail-in voting for all voters.

Irene is an organic gardener, beekeeper and master composer.  She likes to say that you are never too old to dig in the dirt!  She loves people, singing, bicycling, and enjoys sharing the harvest from her garden with friends and local soup kitchens.  She continues to be active in politics and recently became a member of a group dedicated to creating free community vegetable gardens for residents to grow their own fresh produce in areas where there are food deserts.

Irene and Joan cherish their seven grand children, eight great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and two rescued Shih Tzus. They aim to leave this world a more just, equal, and livable place for those to come, recognizing that how we care for each other and the environment are daily choices we make that shape the future.

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