I grew up in Minnesota and went to school at Grinnell College in Iowa, majoring in Religious Studies and German. After graduation I moved to Germany where I lived and worked for several years selling equipment in the television broadcast industry. Eventually, I moved back to the U.S. and worked for a regional non-profit organization in Florida as its head of fundraising.
Later, I relocated to New York so that I could pursue a master's degree in religion at Columbia University. I then continued my studies in the doctoral program in sociology at the University of Chicago. For several years, I spent most of my time in Oklahoma teaching and writing my dissertation. I'm now living in Ithaca during my postdoc at Cornell University.