Tell us a little bit about you and how you came to JPEF:
Before JPEF, I spent my 20s as a bartender and young community organizer in Jacksonville. Most of that time was spent learning about myself and trying to find my place in the world. After I graduated from UNF, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I took the LSAT, shadowed an attorney, and realized I didn’t want to do that. I started a real estate business, felt I wasn’t “helping people'' enough, realized I didn’t want to do that either, and ultimately went back to UNF to study chemistry and then applied to medical school. As you can see, I struggled to find my outlet. That was of course until I Co-Founded the Jacksonville Global Shapers Hub with my colleague, Pascal.
Ultimately, my time as the co-founder of this venture was such a vibrant fulfillment of a hidden passion I had yet to truly embrace, that I made the decision to cast aside my medical school ambitions. We created Jacksonville Global Shapers in order to amplify the voice of the Jacksonville community, and to provide a multicultural platform for young leaders to develop their capacity to co-create positive change alongside that community. And I gladly facilitated all of this for free. No compensation. With Global Shapers as my proverbial laboratory, I was at last granted the opportunity to test, fail, and innovate within the realms of compromise and unity. Not only that, but my time at Global Shapers propelled my budding capacity for leadership through a gauntlet of trials that fostered growth. It was ultimately my tenure at Global Shapers that solidified my love of Jacksonville
Eventually, my tenure at Global Shapers had to come to an end, and I needed to transition onto the next phase. And this phase ended up consisting of a two-pronged approach toward solidifying my presence and impact as a public servant here in Jacksonville. 1) Honing my mind by pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Policy, and 2) Shaping my capacity to actualize sustainable impact and facilitate cross-partisan collaboration in my new role here at JPEF.
Why does public education matter to you personally?
Choice. When robust public educational opportunities are present within a community, those who come of age in those communities have their choices multiplied. As someone who was raised within a working-class context, I see as far as I do only because I stand on the proverbial shoulders of a few educators that saw some remote potential in me. Therefore, JPEF’s mission to “close the opportunity gap” is a personal one for me. As the saying goes “you don’t know what you don’t know,” and I jump at any opportunity to improve the velocity and equity of information access within our communities in order to multiply the choices the individuals within those communities can make. I got lucky. And no one should have to “get lucky.” Luck needs to be taken out of the equation.
We know you’re passionate about civic participation and community engagement. Can you tell us why this is important to you and what you hope to accomplish in your first year at JPEF?
This answer will ripple off of my answer to the previous question. Democracy leads to human flourishing. However, within democratic societies, the degree to which that flourishing occurs is in direct proportion with how deeply the populace engages with the civic instruments at their disposal. Therefore, I take very seriously the mission of dissolving away the barriers-to-entry that may prevent or discourage someone from having a seat at that table. When you maximize the choices people have, you maximize their potential. Instead of hammer and chisel being used by others on them, you offer them the tools directly, and you ultimately transform them into artisans capable of crafting their own human flourishing.
During my first year here at JPEF, I envision three phases:
- Phase one will be complete once I’ve become 85-90% familiar with all my roles and responsibilities and have cultivated a strong trust with my colleagues via consistent and reliable execution of the tasks they’ve requested of me. I’ll additionally have achieved a confident understanding of how all the departments of JPEF link together, and also where I will be able to effectively provide the most impact with my given expertise.
- Phase two will then be successful once I have not only expertly fulfilled my baseline commitments to my teammates, but also once I complete the draft of my first unique and original project charter and submitted it to Coretta for review. At this stage, I hope to have identified some key need that’s in alignment with our strategic vision, have parlayed with some initial stakeholders about said need, and have completed a rough draft of that idea for Coretta’s consideration. This will of course entirely depend on my capacity within my other collaborative efforts with the rest of the team.
- Phase three will be considered a success if I’m to the point with all the various initiatives and projects I’m involved with or leading that I’d need to consider creating an internship opportunity within my own sliver of JPEF in order to build capacity.
Tell us about a teacher who made an impact on your life:
Mr. Finkle at Southwestern Middle School in DeLand, FL. Where other classes I had taken might’ve felt prohibitive and rigid in structure, Mr. Finkle’s class was the first scholastic environment where I felt like I was allowed to explore and make mistakes. My experience in his class converted my pencil into a proverbial paintbrush. I had never felt like a “creative” person until I went through his class.