Irene served as a political appointee at both the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the Office of the Under Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the sole federal agency devoted to the economic development needs of rural America. She was the state policy director for Obama for America in Iowa in 2012 and has held communications and research director roles on other Congressional and Senate campaigns. Her Capitol Hill experience includes working for the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee and as a legislative assistant to Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04). She directed policy and communications at the National Family Farm Coalition and spent one year in Zimbabwe, working with African farm and trade groups and as a reporter for a local news magazine. She also serves as a board member of the Asian American Action Fund, a Democratic PAC. She has a B.A. in American studies from Amherst College and a M.A. in public policy from Johns Hopkins University.