Erika was born in Arlington, Texas, but grew up most of her life just outside St. Paul, Minnesota. She went to Augsburg College in Minneapolis, majoring in political science and peace studies. After graduation, she spent a year working in a neighborhood center through Americorps before moving to Nicaragua. For the next three and a half years, she worked with various community organizations that focused on education and community empowerment. In her free time, she likes to sing, practice Capoeira, and watch Game of Thrones. Her research interests are democracy and authoritarianism as well as citizen political literacy and empowerment in Latin America.