Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, State Government Affairs
How did your interest in education begin?
A mother and father who stressed the value of education. I also saw that many of the people I looked up to and wanted to emulate were educated and told me that was the key to their success. After graduating from college and having achieved a fair amount of success, I felt a strong urge to do the second thing my parents stressed, giving back. Since I had realized the success education had brought me, it was only natural that the time I had to dedicate to philanthropic efforts would be dedicated to educational interests.
How have you been involved in education, professionally or as an advocate, over the years?
I have served on a number of educational boards including the Foundation Board at the University of Washington, the Alliance for Education and several others over the years. In many of those capacities I have raised and help raise several million dollars in scholarship funding for students to pursue careers in higher education.
As an advocate I have spent countless hours in the legislative environment, advocating for legislation and regulation to foster a stronger educational system in Washington state. Everything from early childhood education to higher education, I have made my presence felt in both of them, both individually and as part of coalitions. This work has taken place in the broader community as well as within the private sector/business world.
What one or two education issues are you most passionate about (and why)?
The issues that I am most concerned with as they relate to education and our children are diversity and inclusion. The reason I am so passionate about these issues is that I firmly believe the issues of racism and discrimination, the evil vestiges of slavery, still exist in our country to this day. Those horrific elements, in my opinion, won’t be eliminated by people of my generation or older, rather it is going to be the generations to come. They will hopefully bring about a more understanding and accepting world. So for that reason I believe this is where we should put our hope.
Tell us about an educator who made a particularly large impact on your life.
Probably the educator that had the biggest impact on my life was a teacher by the name of Mr. Richard Hare. Mr. Hare was my D.E.C.A. (Distributive Education Clubs of America) teacher, who used my arrogance and bravado to challenge me to take his class. Once there I found out I actually liked it and he helped me bloom as a student.
While there, Mr. Hare took a special interest in me and asked me if I was going to college or not. I of course told him that I wasn’t, because my parents did not have the money to send me to college. Not wanting to be outdone, Mr. Hare insisted that I continue to push the issue and find some way to go to college. Lo and behold, by the grace of God and the blessings of some loving people, I stuck to it and found a way to become the first member of my family to graduate from college. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for Mr. Hare I probably would have given up on that idea and dream long before I had the chance to enter the University of Washington.
Share an unusual/fun fact about yourself.
I have a lifelong dream to make a movie about that first time I ever got a chance to meet Muhammad Ali. It is an amazing story that I have been working on for years, and been told by several people who are in and around the movie making business that this movie belongs on the big screen! I have every intention of getting it there at some point