She received her B.A. in American History and Secondary Education from Simpson College, where she now serves as a Trustee; she earned an M.A. in American history at Mankato State University.
Barbara’s view of the world was shaped by growing up on a farm in Iowa and attending a one-room school for eight years. She participates actively in the civic life of Denver and Colorado, having served as a citizen member of several boards and advisory committees, including Colorado's Attorney Regulation Advisory Committee and a Denver City Council election reform advisory committee. She enjoys Colorado's outdoor lifestyle, particularly downhill skiing. She is known for scaring out-of-towners by taking them on slopes that exceed their skills.