top of page

My Story

photo: me on a tractor at my father's farm around the age of 5 


Throughout K-12 schooling, particularly in middle through high school, I faced significant academic and social hurdles due to an undiagnosed learning disability, which often left me feeling isolated, insecure, and like something was wrong with me. However, in spite of all the struggles and heartache, there were a few extraordinary teachers who nurtured my self-belief and helped me see myself for who I am. Their dedication and support were instrumental in helping me build strong expectations that I could do anything I set out to do. I believe that educators are the most under-appreciated high-impact professionals in our society; I will never forget their impact on my life and I look forward to championing their needs for additional support.


photo: on my first deployment to Iraq, in Ramadi or Fallujah in late 2008 


My college years were a period of significant growth and learning, opening doors to new ideas and opportunities. The pursuit of higher education broadened my understanding of the world and refined my critical thinking skills and knowledge. These years were not just about academic learning, but also about personal discovery and preparing for future challenges. I chose International Relations as my major because I had seen enough of conflict; I wanted to learn how to better understand other cultures and peoples, how to find common ground with anyone, how to prevent conflict before it starts, how to build bridges instead of walls, how to pull people together no matter how different they may seem. For the first time in my life, with a renewed sense of purpose and personal strength, I found true success in school, graduating with honors and a strong sense of pride.


photo: Piominko House, just after we hung the plaques in 2015


With a freshly printed diploma and ominous student loans in hand, I sought out the best paying, most challenging career I could find - management consulting. Working hand-in-hand with truly brilliant colleagues (and great friends) at IBM, I honed my leadership skills and developed new capabilities, ultimately leading a strategy and process improvement center of excellence for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. While in this role, I learned to listen deeply, to break down problems to their simplest elements, and to bring together diverse teams to solve complex problems on a limited budget. My experience at IBM was instrumental in developing a deep understanding of how to achieve collaborative innovation in corporate and government environments.


photo: me with a group of IAVA leaders and volunteers on a 2017 visit with congress


Both of my older sisters are public k-12 educators, my mom spent time as a Sunday school teacher and child care provider, and one of my grandmothers spent 36! years as a public k-12 educator. Countless times on our long commutes home from work my eldest sister and I would call each other and talk about her daily challenges and triumphs of being a k-12 educator. It is through these conversations about students, parents, curriculum, school boards, and administrative complexities that I grew an appreciation for the challenges our educators face in their daily lives, and which strengthens my commitment to supporting those who dedicate their lives to teaching. 

Me + Coursera Tiffany_edited.jpg

photo: me and one of my brilliant and dedicated Coursera colleagues, Sep 2023


My decision to run for the Board of Education stems from a deep-seated belief in the transformative power of education and a desire to serve my community. I see this as an opportunity to contribute my experiences, insights, and passion for education to improve our local schools and protect public education from those who desire to dismantle it. Running for this position is about giving back and ensuring that EVERY child has access to quality education and feels welcome to come to school as they are.


photo: my wife, Tiffany, post graduation 2019


Growing up in Southern California as the son of a farmer and one of nine children, my early childhood memories are composed of loud and loving familial gatherings, stressful financial struggles, hard work, and generous communal support. My siblings and I, integral to the family business from a young age, learned the importance of hard work and perseverance. When hard work was at times not enough, the community unforgettably stepped up, bringing us Thanksgiving meals and Christmas presents. These foundational experiences deeply shaped my approach to life and my commitment to service.

Working at the Tree Lot_edited.png

photo: me around the age of 6 or 7, helping my dad sell Christmas trees


Education and military service were my gateways to personal development and societal contribution - my gateways to building a good life. I tried to go to school before serving, but I struggled to pay for even the local community college and I lacked the discipline to succeed there. The discipline, leadership skills, and sense of duty I gained from my time in the Marine Corps have been fundamental to my life's trajectory. The experiences, both good and bad, helped me continue to build character, prepared me for success in college, and continued to feed my deep-seated desire to serve and uplift others.

MBA Grad_edited_edited.jpg

photo: post graduation from The George Washington University, 2013


Through some combination of luck and opportunity, I stumbled into the unforgettable role of serving as chief of staff to the Chickasaw Nation’s Ambassador to the US Government, Charles W. Blackwell - a new opportunity to learn and appreciate another culture, to broaden my horizons, and serve others. Following my service as chief of staff, I spearheaded the establishment of Piominko House, which serves as the very first Native American embassy in Washington, DC. This period also marked the beginning of my interest in business and innovation, where I co-founded a medical device sales company and went back to school for my MBA. It took me 3 ½  long years of evening classes and weekend studying to earn my MBA. 

Me + IBM Crew_edited.jpg

photo: some members of my IBM family at an after work get together


As I’ve found more success in my career and personal life, my desire to give back to the community continues to grow. We are a communal species; none of us can do it alone. So many helping hands have reached out and helped me on my journey, and I hope that my efforts to pay it forward will help others as much as I have been helped. In particular, I’ve tried to get involved with supporting the people and institutions that have most helped me in my life - public libraries, veterans benefits programs and organizations, food pantries and toy drives, and now public schools.  

Me + Grandma_edited.jpg

photo: me with my grandmother, a k-12 educator for 36 years; photo taken in 2020


At Coursera, I get to pair my strengths - strategy, innovation, communication and collaboration - with my passions - education, equality and service - to tackle large-scale problems that really matter. We at Coursera are doing everything we can to lower the cost of both higher education and continuous education, and to ensure that these fundamental services are widely accessible to all (we have over 120 million users from over 200 countries!). Through partnerships with the largest companies and best universities in the world, and through a relentless drive for innovation, we are forever changing higher and continuous education. If elected, I will bring this same drive for innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement to our county Board of Education.


photo: Filing Day! Dec 14, 2023


Everything I’ve accomplished, personally and professionally, over the past 13+ years that we’ve been together has only been possible because of the support and sacrifices my wife, Tiffany, made for me and our daughters. I’ve obtained every educational goal I’ve ever had; I’ve succeeded and flourished at several stops in my professional journey; I get to wake up every day to my dream job; I get to support the public community services that mean a lot to me; and I have two beautiful daughters that are growing into beautiful people. None of the things I value most in my life today would have been possible without Tiffany and the long, difficult series of sacrifices she has made over and over again. A lot of people have been thanking me for running, for offering to serve our community through the BOE, but honestly my wife deserves more thanks than I do. She’s my rock, and I appreciate her more than she’ll ever understand.

Photos through the Years


Equality Meets Opportunity

Driven by a lifelong journey of overcoming personal and educational challenges, my campaign is dedicated to fostering an inclusive, innovative, and equitable educational environment in our community. Leveraging my diverse experiences - from growing up in a large, hardworking family, through military service and corporate leadership, to advocating for public libraries and access to higher-ed and continuous learning - I am committed to ensuring every child has access to quality education.


My mission is to safeguard public education, inspire positive change, and serve as a voice for teachers, students, and families, building a future where every individual can thrive.

bottom of page