My Story

As a Howard County community, we must demand the best from our elected officials.

My Story

My life is an open book. Simply read the story of me, and when you're done, decide who you trust to help lead our school system into the future.

Where It Began

I was born in a small town in New Jersey, where I lived with my parents, aunt, and five brothers in a house that had one bathroom. My hometown was a little place that if you blinked, you might miss. I grew up in an area without school buses and with schools so small that we had to walk home for lunch and then back to school when lunch was over. I was not raised in a community of affluence, but I was taught to embrace the most valuable of things; hard work, public service, education, and family.

My father was a lieutenant in the Air Force and served in Vietnam as a nurse. After returning from the war, he became a science teacher at an all-girl vocational high school, the first vocational high school in the country. My dad helped develop the first licensed practical nursing program for high schoolers and ultimately retired as a school system administrator after more than two decades of service. My mother demonstrated her commitment and respect for education as an elected board of education member for twelve years.

My brothers and I live our lives today based on the fundamental values we learned as children. My brother Kevin is the CEO of Covenant House, one of the largest charities in the Americas dedicated to serving homeless youth and ending child trafficking. My brother Tim is a retired FBI agent and is now a partner at Ernst and Young. My brother Jim is a deputy police chief. My brother Chris is a paramedic. My brother Owen is the executive director of the International AIDs Society, working on all fronts of the global AIDS response. And my father, at the age of 80, he still volunteers as an EMT with the local ambulance just as he has done for the last 60 years.

My wife Susan and I moved to Howard County 10 years ago with our three young children. Since then, our family has grown, and we now have four children who attend HCPSS. Moving to Howard County was very intentional. Sue and I searched for a family-friendly community where everyone didn’t look alike, where different traditions, customs, and beliefs were encouraged. We both grew up in great small towns in NJ, but those communities didn’t reflect the real world we wanted our kids to know. We wanted a community that valued top-notch schools, and we wanted plenty of green space where we could live and play.

“The only way we can predict the future is to create it.”

Peter Drucker

Where I’ve Been

My wife was a beautiful aspiring young schoolteacher when we first met in college. I studied advanced prehospital medicine, and after graduating from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, I worked as a paramedic in some of the most impoverished and crime-ridden communities.

The story of my life is not typical, and, at times, it has had some unforeseen turns. On the morning of September 11th, I was on duty and found myself at the base of the Twin Towers in New York City minutes after the first plane hit. As the buildings fell, so too did some of my closest friends and coworkers. Their lives ended in an instant as we stood just feet apart from each other. Those events became the force that drives my passion today for serving children and families in a way that honors my second chance at life.

It was difficult after the terrorist attacks, and I had a tough time understanding why so many good people had to die. I decided to step away from my work as a paramedic. I became a small business owner and opened my own real estate brokerage. Owning my own business meant long hours and hard work, but the financial rewards were significant, and I was able to provide my family with things I never imagined possible. I also enjoyed the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of business while helping people navigate the next steps in their lives.

Unfortunately, the economy crashed, and the real estate market quickly plummeted. Home foreclosures boomed, property taxes went unpaid, and cute small communities became abandoned ghost towns seemingly overnight. As a result, I was forced to lay off my employees. I eventually lost everything, declared bankruptcy, and closed my business. While it was an excruciating time for my family and me, it provided valuable finance and business management lessons that can’t be taught in a school or learned from a book. The economic recession also helped me to re-discover the importance of public service.

Why I’m Running

There is no shortage of people who are ready, able, and willing to identify problems within HCPSS. There is, however, a shortage of people who have meaningful and comprehensive solutions to fix the issues. The HCPSS Board of Education is in desperate need of experienced people who understand a wide range of school administration issues and understand what it means to govern a 59,000-student school system.

I have the education, experience, and unique understanding to represent the needs of ALL children and families. Ethical and Principled Leadership is just one of the things I bring to the conversation. With an annual school budget of approximately 1 billion dollars and growing, don’t you think we can do better? I do.

There are many opportunities for improvement, not the least of which is the flawed redistricting process. This topic has been one of the most contentious in our community in recent history. Every student can learn and redistricting alone does nothing to address opportunity to achieve.

Below is a video of my redistricting testimony before the HCPSS Board of Education. Please visit My Vision / Our Future page, where I discuss in greater detail the host of available options for addressing school capacity and uniting our community.

Thank you for taking the time to learn a little about me. Please see the Where I’ve Been section to learn more about me and what I can do for our public-school system.

This campaign is a grass roots effort supported by no special interest groups, big-money, or political influence. It’s really simple. I need your support during this election if we are going to win. Let me be your voice. Together we can fix the seemingly unfixable and we can build great new things.

Please click VOLUNTEER if you would like to help with our campaign. What house wouldn’t look great with a Gene Ryan, BOE Candidate sign on the front lawn? Click the button and we can make that happen too.

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