208 North First Avenue
Alpena, Michigan 49707
I grew up in North Carolina and Tennessee in small towns very similar to Alpena. My father was a farmer and a munitions plant foreman. My mother was a dental assistant. I am the oldest of four children in my family. My parents worked hard and taught us the value of a strong work ethic and a sense of civic responsibility. We learned early on that we were responsible for our actions.
I have been married to Kenneth Nielsen for 39 years. Our family enjoys camping and exploring. On one camping adventure, we traveled through Alpena and stopped with our children to stretch our legs at the ‘Duck Park’. We fell in love with a river, a lake, and all things Alpena. Six years later, we moved here and we have called Alpena home for 28 years.
With the exception of our oldest son, Frank McSwain, we have raised our family here. In addition to Frank, we have 3 sons, Robert McSwain, John Nielsen, and Christian Nielsen and 2 daughters, Amanda Whaley and Katherine Sowton. We are also proud grandparents of Hunter, Alex and Katie Grace McSwain, Taylor McSwain, Brett Hauff and Paige Hauff, Olivia Sowton, Paul Whaley and Isabella Nielsen. My family loves sports – watching, participating, coaching (my husband) and cheering!! I also enjoy gardening, cooking, reading, canoeing, all things dog, and volunteering.
While raising our family was my priority, I have had some meaningful volunteer experiences in Alpena and met many wonderful people from all walks of life. One of those volunteer experiences was an appointment to the Alpena Planning Commission. I served on the Commission for fourteen years. I was able to complete the Michigan State Citizen Planner Program and have significant conversations with local citizens about Alpena. Numerous discussions with residents have reminded me of the passion that citizens feel for this community.
In 2012, I was appointed to serve the remaining 2 months of a City Council term. After serving for 2 months, I ran for election in 2013 and I was and am honored to have won a seat on Alpena City Council. Although I have never belonged to any political party, I have always been aware of the significance of political leadership and the issues that impact all of us. I believe that through honest conversation with citizens, representatives from other governmental entities, and area leaders, we can work together for the common good of our community. I believe it is my job to listen to everyone with the objective of truly understanding and learning and then vote my conscience.
During high school my part-time job was as the evening switchboard operator at our local hospital. From that first job, I learned that I wanted a career working with and serving people. I attended laboratory school at our local hospital through the University of Tennessee and then worked for a group of doctors for 10 years until I met and married my husband, Ken Nielsen. Working with youth has been a passion for me. As our children grew, I felt the need to have an active role in our community by working for the Volunteer Center at Alpena Community College. Leading youth in team volunteer service was a joy for me and beneficial for youth 12 – 18 years old. I am also very proud to have been the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Alpena for 15 years until retiring in June 2013.
Committee and Board Appointments
My committee appointments are the Board of Review, The H.U.N.T. Advisory Board, Medical Marijuana Task Force, NEMCOG – REDAC, Clear Target Market Visioning, Building Strong Consensus - Visioning.