Balow is a fifth-generation Wyomingite, born in Laramie, where she lived until she was thirteen, when she relocated to Gillette. She graduated from Campbell County High School in Gillette. For college, she returned to Laramie, where in 1993, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Wyoming. In 2000, she later studied at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. In 2005, she received a Master of Education from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. For ten years, she was a classroom teacher in Hulett in Crook County and then Gillette.
She has been active in the Food Bank of the Rockies, the Wyoming Children's Society, and a trustee of the St. Mary's Elementary School In Cheyenne and the Devils Tower National Monument Foundation in the western Black Hills. She and her husband, John Paul Balow (born 1967), a school principal, reside in the capital city of Cheyenne with their two children.
Balow is a former human services policy advisor to Governor Mead and during 2014 an administrator at the Wyoming Department of Family Services. She won the Republican primary election for state superintendent over two intraparty opponents, Bill Winney and Sheryl Lain. On November 4, 2014, Balow defeated her Democratic opponent, Michael A. Ceballos, though many had expected a closer contest. Balow opposed the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which Ceballos conversely supported.
Balow resists calls to make the superintendent appointed: "We're all stakeholders in education; so to take that voice out of who generally supervises education is again, in my opinion, unfortunate." During Hill's tenure, the Wyoming State Legislature illegally removed many of the duties of the office from Hill's purview until brought into check by the Wyoming Supreme Court. Hill's term was essentially cut short by the legislature, but she resumed her duties under court order for the few months remaining in her term in April 2014.
The superintendent also sits on boards related to economic development, higher education, and other issues. "As state superintendent, with my focus on children and families, that's a unique perspective to bring to those boards and commissions that no other elected really brings," Balow told a conference in Cheyenne.
Balow, who calls herself a "conservative", has formed an outreach cabinet to advise her on policy, the members of which include former Governor Jim Geringer and former Superintendent Judy Catchpole.