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Breaking the Ice: Sarah Rudolf, public engagement with a side of ‘mAlice’

Editor’s note: Breaking the Ice helps reserved Minnesotans learn more about their colleagues and their lives beyond their jobs.

Name: Sarah Rudolf

Title: Statewide public engagement coordinator, Minnesota Department of Transportation

Education: Master’s in public policy from Johns Hopkins University

Sarah Rudolf is working to make sure Minnesotans have a voice in transportation projects and long-range planning. Engaging people early and often — and ensuring they represent those that a plan or project would affect — helps inform decisions on future work. That may involve, in addition to traditional town hall meetings, online surveys or visiting community centers, workplaces, farmers markets or neighborhood festivals.

Rudolf has been in this role, a new one at the agency, for six months. She previously worked at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, including its Green Step Cities program, and has been a project manager at a public health communications firm.

What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

Invite me to coffee. I’m kind of an informal person. Chatting over a cup of coffee is a nice way to get to know somebody because people are just more genuine in those kinds of conversations.

What books are on your bedside table?

We’re going on a family trip to London for spring break, so I’m trying to do a little research to make sure we’ll all have fun. I’m excited about visiting the International Date Line in Greenwich (home of the prime meridian and Greenwich Mean Time). I have a 7-year-old, and he’s really fascinated by time zones.

What is your pet peeve?

When people don’t mean what they say. Although I’m a true Minnesotan, I’m a very candid and direct person. If you’re having me over for dinner or if you’re sharing information, I’m hoping that you’ll be direct and honest with me.

What’s your favorite activity outside your job?

A few years ago I woke up one day and realized I had missed my calling as a roller girl. I just finished my rookie year on the Atomic Bombshells team. We won the Golden Skate, the Minnesota RollerGirls league championship. I’m “mAlice.” With two small kids, I wanted something not too out there but that was tough and down to business.

If someone visits you in your hometown, what do you always take them to see or do?

I grew up in St. Paul and moved back here to raise my family. I always take people to the original Dunn Brothers on Grand and Snelling and also visit Como: the zoo, conservatory or the lake. Or Como Town (amusement park). Or Dockside (restaurant). Como is kind of St. Paul’s equivalent to places in Europe or elsewhere where there’s a town square, a gathering place where adults can enjoy some time but it’s also fun for kids.

What’s the last arts or cultural event you attended?

My family and I and some of the roller girls went to a powwow at Central High School sponsored by the Ain Dah Yung Center, a healing place in the community for American Indian youth and families to thrive in safety and wholeness. As Minnesotans, we owe it to ourselves and to each other to actively honor our diverse histories.

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