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.