A native of Brooklyn, I arrived in Austin 6 1/2 years ago to join Dell Inc as Chief of Staff to Chairman & CEO Michael Dell. My passion for technology and business, and the opportunity to work for an entrepreneurial icon, made moving to Austin an easy decision. I decided to stay, launch my own tech startup, and lay down roots in East Austin.
I chose to live in East Austin because it feels like home. I was raised Catholic, the child of working class immigrants, in Spike Lee’s Brooklyn. As a young child, there was no diversity in my neighborhood. Mostly everyone was black, and either working class or poor. People from Brooklyn were hard working and proud of the borough’s history and music and culture, even as the world viewed Brooklyn as a very scary and dangerous place. Over the last decade or so, Brooklyn has become cool. My parents have owned the same home in Brooklyn for almost 50 years as Brooklyn gentrified around them. The parallels to East Austin are remarkable. I am proud to call East Austin my home.
My parents placed a heavy emphasis on education as the path to success. They were fierce advocates in making sure I had access to academic opportunities kids from my neighborhood didn’t typically have. Money was tight but they sacrificed to send me to the neighborhood Catholic elementary school, rather than my underfunded public school. For middle school, my father moved me to a public school in a better-off neighborhood. A teacher there saw something in me, and recommended me for a non-profit program that facilitates scholarships and preparatory classes for students of color to attend New York City’s best private high schools. My mother rode with me on the subway twice a week after work to Manhattan–still in her nursing uniform–to get me to these classes. This was the first time I had ever been to Manhattan.
It all worked out for me. I graduated from Harvard University with a major in Government and from Wharton with an MBA in Finance. However, not every inner-city kid will have the parental support, luck, non-profit programs, scholarship funding and passionate teachers I needed to overcome underfunded public schools. I will fight to properly fund and fix Texas’ public schools, particularly the ones in poorer school districts. I care deeply about education. My daughter attends Austin ISD schools in East Austin (Kealing & LASA @ LBJ).
Over a twenty-year business career, I have worked at senior levels at some of the largest, most complex technology companies in the world. My focus has always been to ignite entrepreneurial change within large, traditional tech companies. In this pursuit, I have lived and worked in the US, Europe and Africa. I have learned the best way to implement change from within is to understand an organization’s priorities and closely examine its budget. I know how to navigate my way around big, zero-sum, complex budgets. I will work to ensure that the priorities of District 46 are better reflected in the State budget. Better funding for education, better funding for healthcare, better human services and programs to support small businesses.
Technology firms, and specifically technology startups, are critical to Austin’s future. I started my technology firm in Austin because this city has the right skills, the right infrastructure and right policies for technology firms to thrive. I can help represent Austin’s technology interests in the State Legislature. Today, there is no single Committee in the Texas House or Senate dedicated to technology. This must change. Technology is critical to Texas’ economic growth and every facet of the legislature’s work is heavily influenced by trends in technology. I also want to ensure that more people from District 46 participate in Austin’s technology fueled economic growth.
I am a father of 2 children, ages 19 and 14. I like to run, bike, play golf, watch football and binge-watch almost anything on HBO. I don’t go to church as often as I should but when I do I go to Our Lady of Guadalupe on 9th. I love learning new languages. I am learning Spanish at Austin Community College.