CEO, Common Ground Health
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Through adversity, and through community service, I have learned the lesson that people and relationships matter and that love, truly, is the key. Parents who have lost a child — or are raising a child with special needs — know this lesson. My wife and I learned it through burying two of our children: The highest value should always be placed on life, love, family and friendship. People matter and I am grateful that people — and bringing focus to the health of people — centers Common Ground’s work.
Who have been the biggest mentors in your career?
My most significant mentor was the late New York State Assemblymember David Gantt. As a mentor, employer and friend, David gave me opportunities to learn practical politics and government, to grow as a policymaker and community servant, and to faithfully persist in the hard work of community renewal and change. As a result of Mr. Gantt’s mentorship, my career and service will remain ever rooted in addressing, anticipating and solving neighbors’ problems. I will also continue to act on the only commitment that David ever asked of me in return: to mentor and make time for other young people.
What do you do to unplug in your free time?
I am fully occupied with genealogical research. This grew out of my childhood in a household rich in oral history and informed by the belief that all children need roots (family history) and wings (educational opportunities). Through research, I have a clear vision of my family history, from arrival to this country, from enslavement through emancipation, to today. I have also learned that one of my forbearers was elected to serve in Georgia’s statehouse during Reconstruction. It’s both exciting and humbling to know that I was not the first in my family to serve in elected office.
This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 100 list for 2021. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at rbj.net.