I am a proud native Kansan who is driven by his insatiable desires to learn, grow, and help others. I was born in Overland Park, Kansas and raised in Olathe, Kansas. As a child, I enjoyed building Lego homes, tetherball, and playing with my black and white rat terrier, Brandy.
My journey toward public service began in 7th grade when I made the commitment to build a city where people have everything they need to be successful. My commitment was prompted by my family’s loss of my childhood home to foreclosure. My family has since endured the institutionalized challenges of poverty and disenfranchisement.
After middle school, I attended Olathe North Senior High School, Olathe’s original high school and the same one my parents attended.
Throughout high school, I was heavily involved in the arts. I was a member of the National Art Honor Society. I served as the Editor-in-Chief of my high school’s award-winning literary magazine, Mindburst, and I am the author of a few award-winning poems and one short story. More than anything, I enjoyed spending time on the stage as an actor. I loved playing in comedic and character roles and starred in productions at my high school and around the community, including Shakespeare in the Park’s CAMP Shakespeare production and Shawnee Mission Theater in the Park’s production of Hello Dolly! I was also a Junior Varsity member of my school’s tennis team.
From high school, I began my journey as a Jayhawk at the University of Kansas (KU). I was very involved as an undergraduate. I found great joy in my roles within my fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi, and Alternative Breaks, a student-run service learning organization that sent KU students across the nation to complete week-long service trips. I also represented the School of Architecture and Urban Planning in Student Senate. In the summer of 2010, I received a Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship to study Russian language and culture in St. Petersburg, Russia. I was a 2011 finalist for the competitive Fulbright Scholarship. My proposed research project focused on environmental sustainability practices in expanding, historic Nordic cities and their ability to be replicated elsewhere with the goal to mitigate climate change.
Following graduation, I completed a year of national service as an AmeriCorps Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA) member. My VISTA placement was with the City of Phoenix, Arizona where I worked in the Neighborhood Services Director’s Office and the City Manager’s Volunteer Office. The position afforded me a great deal of opportunities for professional growth. I managed two volunteer programs in the Neighborhood Services Department and assisted with citywide projects that expanded the City’s capacity to recruit, manage, and report on municipal volunteers. I also secured a $100,000 grant from Cities of Service to start an urban gardening initiative at three city-owned housing facilities and launch a “cool roofs” program to reduce energy use at city-owned facilities. VISTA was a defining experience in my life because it deepened my passion for public service and pushed me to discover my direction in life.
From an early age, I knew that I wanted to help build vibrant communities that empower their residents to flourish. VISTA showed me the path I can take to make my vision a reality by drawing on my passions and talents. I have always had a profound love for the arts, architecture, urban planning, and their intersection in place making, which led to my Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies with a minor in Slavic languages and literature. I also earned a master’s in public administration in order to understand how to effectively manage public resources and build successful communities and institutions.
Today, I call Kansas City, Missouri home. Outside of work, I love to collect experiences, explore Kansas City, and serve my community. I have gone skydiving and enjoy sampling Kansas City’s amazing local restaurant scene, events, and festivals. I also enjoy cooking, baking, and, of course, a great Netflix or HBO original series or two. I have made time to serve on the board of the Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. I also volunteer my time where needed on advisory committees and for special events or community projects.