"Times are of course complicated now, Ketchum says. “But I don’t think there’s ever been a time better positioned for change and growth,”. - TIME
I was born in the dead of winter in December 1993, in Beaver Pennsylvania, just outside my hometown of East Liverpool, Ohio.
Growing up, my family experienced poverty - a through line in far too many American families. To make ends meet, my father, Brian Ketchum, worked as a cast-maker in the local ceramics factory while my mother, Dianne, worked as a waitress on and off while raising my me and brothers.
Early on, I knew what hard worked looked like. My parents worked tirelessly to provide for our family but rarely felt like they were making ends meet.
We lived pay check to pay check, but we always made it by. As the years went on, and the financial crash of 2008 began to set in, our ability to "get by", became harder and harder.
Following the financial crisis and a devastating house fire, my mother, my two brother and I, moved to Wheeling, WV.
Wheeling welcomed us with open arms.
After graduating high school, I decided to go to college. Like many first generation college students, I was nervous and overwhelmed. Without having the college experience modeled for me early on, I looked toward some friendly neighbors for advice.
From what major might be a good fit, to helping me navigate the complicated world of financial aid, the community around me offered me the skills and knowledge to lean into higher education.
Despite the obstacles, I graduated from West Virginia Northern Community College in 2017 with my Associates degree in Psychology. Shortly thereafter, I transferred to a traditional university, Wheeling Jesuit, to complete my Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
I have never felt more proud of myself than I did holding that degree.
During this time I invested heavily in my community organizing work and my career in mental health. Joining various boards and organizations tasked with protecting and empowering our most vulnerable community members.
I felt compelled to give back to the community that had given so much to me.
These experiences were some of the most formative of my life and eventually put me on the path of public service.
Empowering communities is about more than hosting a panel discussion or passing a symbolic resolution. It requires real focus and actionable solutions.
It demands that we elect people who reflect the values of their community in the actions of their leadership.
That's something I try to do each and every day.
After graduation, I decided to set my sights toward public office.
I was elected to Wheeling City Council on June 9th 2020 - a year like no other and a campaign like no other.
We worked hard to earn the vote of the people of the 3rd Ward - winning by just 15 votes.
Our campaign brought to light some of the most serious issues facing our neighborhoods.
Homelessness, addiction, poverty, racism, and affordable housing all dominated my everyday conversations with voters.
My work in community organizing, public service, and the mental health field has given me the opportunity to speak with people from across the globe, engage in effective governance, and make a difference in my community.
To me, that is what matters most.