Where were you born?
I was born at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI. It was a cold, snowy day. Rumor has it that it snowed over eight inches that day in April.
What were your childhood and teen years like?
My childhood was great. I was very fortunate to have a mother and father who cared for me and treated me kindly. I grew up in a small city called Lathrup Village, Michigan. I had a lot of freedom and was able to express and be myself. At the time I was growing up, parents were not afraid to let their kids run loose in the neighborhood. I had a childhood of going out for the day until sunset with my brother, Teddy, who is 16 months younger than me. I traveled a lot with my family. My favorite places to travel with my family were Badlands National Park in South Dakota and Hawaii.
My parents were out of the house a lot due to trying to grow their careers. My mother was getting her PhD, and my father was working twelve-hour days as a public school administrator for Southfield and Plymouth-Canton public schools. Because of this, my grandma really helped raised us. There were portions of my life where I went to live with her.
Do you think your early traveling with your family to national parks made way for you to be outdoorsy later in life?
Yes. One of my missions in the next five years is to visit all sixty national parks. In the last 3-5 years, I went to 50 national parks. I am planning a trip to Glacier National Park and national parks that I have not visited in Arizona this summer.
Where did you go to elementary, middle, and high school and can you tell me something notable or a vivid memory from school?
I went to McIntyre Elementary School. My brother and I would walk by ourselves without parents to elementary school when we were just five. I don’t think families feel as safe as they used to today. One of the most notable elementary school moments was when in third grade, my buddy was playing with a tack to close envelopes. He put it in his mouth and swallowed it in class. He raised his hand, was extremely calm about it, and asked the teacher to go to the bathroom.
For middle school, I went to Alice M. Birney in Southfield for a year and then transferred to a private Jesuit school called University of Detroit Jesuit. I also attended high school there. I went to Jesuit schools from seventh grade through high school, undergraduate, and graduate school.
Do you think your Fordham University major in Urban Studies and your masters in community development has played an important role in your current and past jobs?
Yes, I would not be where I am today. I have always been fascinated by how cities work. That is what inspired me to study Urban Studies. It was very broad contextually. I started to lean toward the economic components of how cities work, that is why I did the Community Development program at the University of Detroit Mercy. My emphasis was on economic development because I believe that there is a place for equitable, social, and economic impact in cities. What I studied also led me to my current job at ProsperUS.
What motivates you to work hard?
The reward and the gratification from providing people opportunities to start or grow their businesses when these opportunities would probably not be available if it were not for ProsperUS Detroit. When I see businesses take that first big step, grow, take on a new contract, or sign a lease, it is very rewarding to see. It is nice to see people set a course for themselves entrepreneurially and provide a small component of what helps them get there.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
I was really proud that I was able to open up a successful small business in Detroit. There was a lot of hard work involved and learning on the job. Being in my early 30s, I did not think I would be able to open up a successful bar in Detroit.
What has been one of your most accomplished moments at ProsperUS?
I cannot pinpoint just one. However, there was a gentleman who was a refugee from Iraq that I and ProsperUS were able to support. ProsperUS allowed him to acquire a business within his first year of coming to the United States. He did not have any money before coming here. Now, he is very successful in the industry. I also get a lot of pride from helping Returning Citizens as well. I don’t think our current society is very forgiving. I think that ProsperUS has carved a niche of being forgiving to people who may have made mistakes in the past. We’ve made a lot of very successful loans to entrepreneurs who have spent a considerable amount of time in prison and in some cases, committed pretty serious crimes.
Who is your hero?
My grandmother, my dad, and my mom since they are some of the hardest working people I have met.
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
I would move somewhere where I can easily access nature and mountains while still living in an urban environment, for instance a city like Denver. I would start my own investment company to make loans to the same type of clients I’m currently working with.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to work on my house in West Village, take my dog out on runs, and travel. Some of the best places I have traveled include Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has one of the most amazing ecosystems in the entire world. A year before that, I went to all three national parks in Florida. I went to the Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia a couple years ago. I have visited Iceland, which also has an extremely impressive and diverse ecosystem. I toured around the island's coast via car with my brother.
if you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Invisibility (for the record)
What would you sing at Karaoke night?
Peg by Steely Dan