A little about me...
I grew up in Hickory, NC and now find myself back in my hometown after time in Washington, DC and Birmingham, AL. It's good to be back and whoever said you couldn't go home again was definitely not from Hickory. It's beautiful, the people are warm and inviting, and there seems to always be something fun to do. Hickory is a city of makers having been home to furniture and hosiery and now attracts world class IT talent to our low cost of living city.
Currently I'm doing some freelance work as a consultant and exploring some new options. Currently we're still dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak and I'm trying to stay home to help my family. I have an autoimmune disease and my folks don't get around like they used to so I'm helping Mom around the house and trying my best to keep us away from the virus.
One nice thing about being around the house so much is it has given me the opportunity to renovate the place some and to explore doing some wood working. Mom's place is great but needed a little TLC so I continue to find myself tinkering with new projects. I'm even turning my brown thumb green and doing a bit of landscaping. It's amazing all the things you'll do in quarantine.
When I first returned to Hickory, I started work for the Hickory Downtown Development Association as the Executive Director. Our goal was to improve the conditions of downtown to help existing businesses while also attracting new ones. It was rewarding work and fun to work so closely with some great people. I was especially thankful for the chance to work with the folks at City Hall and get to know them.
Before returning home, I spent three years in Birmingham, AL. It's an interesting city full of history, particularly relating to the civil rights era. I started working for a business improvement district, City Action Partnership (CAP), as the communications manager and it gave me a chance to learn about the city, warts and all, but I think I ended up loving it more this way. My office was next to Kelly Ingram Park, 16th Street Baptist Hotel, and the Civil Rights Museum. I felt lucky to be there to see President Obama proclaim part of downtown as a National Monument and to do my part to help improve the city's image.
CAP ended up restructuring when they allowed REV Birmingham to oversee management of the organization which meant my position was eliminated. I wished them well and hoped it would open some doors to me that I wouldn't have seen if I was still at CAP. I did some work as an independent contractor getting ready for the upcoming City Center Framework Plan and doing some website work. I also worked with the regional planning commission and helped pass a new Complete Streets policy for the city of Birmingham. I accomplished a lot in those three years but needed to get back to Hickory.
Life in DC
Before coming to Bham, I spent the previous 15 years working with the Lutheran College Washington Semester, an internship program for higher education students in Washington, DC. Hired as a part-time employee to handle the database, through the years I continued to accept more responsibility and taught myself skills that would benefit the program. I became the Operations Manager and eventually the Director of Operations and Communication. Even once I moved to Alabama I continued to work as a consultant with the program helping whenever I could during the transition.
While at LCWS, I handled a large variety of responsibilities including marketing, social media and website, IT needs, maintaining the 13 student condos and office space, handling day-to-day operations, and counseling students. I implemented big changes in equipment used, renovated all 13 condos consisting of almost 20,000 square feet and saving the program approximately $750,000, redesigned the website on three occasions, created an emergency alert system, and created an extensive social media campaign. I also filled in for the Executive Director during multiple extended leaves handling business decisions for the program.
Hard work is nothing new as I started working when I was 14 and have done a variety of things since. I've sold shoes, hardware, and clothes having been a department manager and assistant store manager; worked as an on-air personality for a radio station, did an internship for a CBS TV station in Charlotte, and even was an assistant women's soccer coach for two years while finishing up my undergraduate degree. I'm thankful my father passed along his construction work ethic and even though I may not always be the smartest guy in the room, I'm usually the hardest worker.
I've enjoyed working for nonprofits for many years and I would love to remain in that field. Being part of a community and contributing to the people in it is important to me. With my variety of skills and always wanting to learn more, I'm always looking for new ways to help the community.
As for a little more of the personal side of my background - I grew up in Hickory, NC to a father working in the family construction business and a mother working for Lenoir-Rhyne College (now a University). My parents split when I was 8 but I gained a wonderful stepmother so it turned out to be for the best. I played sports and loved always being outside. Hickory is a great community and was a good place to grow up.
I had a pretty normal childhood until I was about 13. Around that time, I started getting sick and was eventually diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, a disease of the digestive tract that nearly killed me. In my case the disease was in the Ileum which is where the small and large intestines join. The cliff notes version is I lost weight, energy, and motivation until I was 16 and was 5 foot 2 inches and 65 pounds. I had surgery in May of '89 to have the section of my intestines removed and luckily I have been in remission since. When it comes to Crohn's, I've been pretty lucky. While technically disabled, I don't feel disabled and I'm able to deal with the few side effects. For more information on Crohn's please check the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation (CCFA) web site at www.ccfa.org.
I did miss two and half years of high school and eventually had to drop out. I was able to get my GED, went to a community college for a time, and eventually found myself at Lenoir-Rhyne pursuing a communications degree. It took a lot of work and was quite a journey. After graduation I moved to Washington, DC, which I loved, and where I found enormous growth as a person and as a professional. I had a chance to experience so many new things and meet people from all over the world.
I have an older brother who also went to Lenoir-Rhyne and is a computer engineer. He lives in Hickory with all of my family and married a cute little lady from a nearby town. They have four kids that are pretty amazing. Each of them are incredibly smart and have good hearts so I'm a proud uncle.
I am a big sports fan but losing some interest since pros keep acting like the south end of a north bound horse and even college athletics seem to be about money now. Cycling is a huge interest of mine and has been my whole life. I lost my desire to cycle for a while when I got sick but found the love again when I was in DC thanks to all the great cycling opportunities there. I am now trying to participate in rides for charities and to get more involved in community projects connected with cycling. Nothing quite like wind blowing through your hair, or in my case across my head since I don't have hair, as you ride through the city, along paths, and down back roads.
Having grown up in a construction family, I feel in love with architecture and design. In DC, I was able to work with business improvement districts (BIDs) and worked for the local BID in Bham. It has allowed me to discover my love of urban design as it's sort of a combination of design and marketing. I love the work more than anything else I've ever done and I'm excited to continue working in that field. It's fun and it's great to help the community.
There is, of course, tons more to tell but these are the highlights. Please feel free to get in touch anytime. Okay, so maybe not anytime, but most anytime. Just don't call me at 2 am.
If you are still reading, I'm impressed. Somehow you stayed awake. Thanks for visiting my web page and I hope to hear from you.
At Space Camp wearing an astronaut suit just a tad too big for me