I have been extraordinarily blessed throughout my lifetime. I have a great family to come home to everyday. I married my wonderful wife, Nichole, upon return from my first deployment to Afghanistan. We have five children, Isabella (20), Emma (18), Jonathan (17), Ave (7), and Hallow (1).
I started my career as a student journalist at Valencia Community College, winning a Pacemaker Award (the Collegiate Pulitzer equivalent) which opened many doors for me. I then wrote a national newsletter for a real estate magnate in the late 90’s.
Eventually, I took a contract job with Lockheed Martin where I worked on and off for a couple years and continued going to college. I always loved working at Lockheed, It was intellectually stimulating and challenging and fun. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for them
Being a restless soul, I went out on my own, starting my first business, a copy writing operation, that turned into a full advertising agency which merged with two other entities to become J3 Communications. I sold my portion of the company and went on to open a furniture gallery with my family where we imported products from throughout Latin America.
I joined the Army in 2003 as combat journalist. My intention was to write about the war. Not having any familiarity with the military at all, I did not know what to expect. It was the most burdensome and the most rewarding job I have ever had. I deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom twice, and was awarded two Army Commendation Medals, an Army Achievement Medal, a Keith L. Ware Award for Journalism, and most importantly, a hard earned Combat Action Badge during my deployments with the 173rd Airborne Combat Brigade.
I am proud to say that I have directly engaged the enemies of the United States and served my country honorably. During my military service, I served with more than a few heroes. In my unit, three paratroopers were awarded the Medal of Honor, dozens received Silver Stars and Bronze Stars with Valor. Witnessing some of these acts of courage was an experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I am a first generation American, something I am extremely proud about, I pray all of my children will choose to serve in one capacity or another their country and community, and never take their country, or community, for granted.
After leaving the Army, I joined the family business. Mercedes Investments, a real estate company.
Mercedes Investments helped hundreds of people save their homes from foreclosure during the financial crisis.
The financial crisis hit close to home when I personally realized the strain of having purchased my home at the height of real estate prices in 2008 only to go upside in home value soon after. I watched my family work tirelessly to help those on the cusp of becoming homeless. I realized I was not the first, and much less the only, one in my family to serve our community.
For several years and still on occasion, I have consulted many organizations, including federal and local political campaigns on communication practices, and market share analysis. After working on many campaigns and developing policies for others, I started thinking about policies that required no agenda aside from benefiting our community.
After being disappointed in the lack of will to do good by many of our politicians, I left politics and began working for the Catholic Church as Director of Marketing & Development for the Diocese of Orlando; a system which comprised 42 schools across 8 counties.
I love working with schools, and I truly enjoyed serving the world’s greatest boss: Jesus Christ. However, by nature I am a fighter.
When the opportunity came to work for a great family to save a struggling company and bring it to profitability, it was a chance I couldn’t give up. Today I am the CEO of PBM Specialties, a specialty manufacturing company that manufactures signage mostly for new construction projects.
My experiences have been wide and varied across many industries and organizations, but the most important thing about those experiences to me has always been how they affected people. I look forward to working within the community to make Osceola County schools the best in our state and nation.
First, I have a broad understanding of how other systems work, not only educational systems, but business systems.
Second, I have a plan, not a talking point, or script, or motive beyond improving the education of our students and the working lives of our teachers.
Thirdly, I’m not AFRAID. I’m not afraid of change, of political complexities, and I’m not afraid of risks.
Combat Action Badge
Army Commendation Medal (x4)
Army Achievement Medal
Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal