As one of the first people in my family to graduate from a four-year college, and the first in my family to receive a Master’s Degree, I know firsthand the value of a quality education. My education provided me tremendous opportunities – opportunities that should be afforded to all children. I am running for the Birmingham Board of Education to make these same opportunities a reality for every student in Birmingham.
I bring to this race twenty years of diverse experience in education, business, entrepreneurship, and public service. I served on the political staff of Democratic United States Senator Tom Daschle, where I learned the value of grassroots organization and service. In 2002, I enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin to earn my M.B.A.. While in school, I co-founded a technology startup, uShip.com. While launching and growing my business, I recognized the importance of cultivating talent through education, and after a successful exit from uShip I pivoted my focus to improving public education outcomes.
While working as a startup entrepreneur, I identified a major gap in the job market. We were in Austin, Texas, one of the strongest technology markets in the country, and we struggled to find great software engineers. At its core, I learned we simply weren’t preparing our kids for a 21st century economy. But the problems ran deeper than curriculum. Too many of our students were finishing school without even the basic skills to make them college and career ready.
I felt called to do anything I could to close this education gap and have spent the past 6 years working to improve student outcomes in K12 education. I knew that the only way to truly understand the challenges facing students, teachers, and families would be to engage at the school level. In 2011 I left Austin and joined Teach For America and accepted a teaching position at Sumter Central High School in Livingston, Alabama.
After leaving the classroom I remained committed to education through a nonprofit venture that focused on developing and supporting innovators in the K12 space, and volunteering/working with a number education initiatives throughout Birmingham. Through this work something magical happened. While working with education entrepreneurs in New Orleans, I met wife Rebecca, and today we are settled in our Crestwood house with our daughter Maya.
Today, in addition to working with education innovators, I teach classes in entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the Collat School of Business.
Birmingham is going through a period of exceptional growth and transformation. If our schools fail to adapt, an entire generation will miss out on this growth. We owe it to our students, their parents, and our teachers to make changes today that will impact kids immediately. We don’t have the luxury of waiting 10 years, and I believe my experience and passion make me the right candidate to move Birmingham City Schools in the right direction.
I’m running for the Birmingham School Board because, with your help, we can bridge the economic divides in our community and provide our students with the education they need for the future. Join me in working together to unlock new possibilities for students in District 5, and across our great City.