Kerstin was born and raised on a farm near the Kankakee River in Kouts, Indiana. She later moved to Indianapolis and received a bachelor's degree in International Studies and Political Science from Butler University. After graduation, Kerstin taught English in the Republic of Georgia, joined AmeriCorps for a year on Chicago's South Side and then moved abroad again to photograph rock art in Kenya with an art conservancy organization.
Upon returning from Kenya, Kerstin received a master's degree in Public Service with a specialization in Sustainable Community Development and began a career at Lions Clubs International where she managed global health and environmental programs. In September 2019, Kerstin became the Executive Director of United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties.
She serves as a board member for the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley and United Way of Illinois. Kerstin is also on the Steering Committee for Kankakee County's Partnership for a Healthy Community.
A life-long learner and explorer - Kerstin loves traveling, watching documentaries, reading, drawing, listening to podcasts and trying new foods. She lives with her husband, Officer Travis Garcia in Bourbonnais. She has visited over 35 countries and 28 states. When she's not planning her next getaway, Kerstin is usually at home snuggling her Great Dane, Jester.