As the oldest in a family of three children, I grew up understanding that my duty to family and community would be the hardest yet most fulfilling work one could do. My Midwestern parents, raised me and my two siblings, Nicole, 25, and Aaron, 10, in St. Louis, Missouri, teaching us Midwestern values like the importance of kindness and hard-work, and one’s commitment to community.
My path has led me to run for City Council because in my fifteen years in nonprofit leadership and from my upbringing as a hardworking youth from St. Louis, I have the skills to be a reliable, progressive leader for Allston/Brighton.
I have always placed community service as one of my core values. My grandfather, a Vietnam Veteran, turned pastor, instilled in me the value of helping those who needed it the most. For example, he would spend several nights a week cutting the hair of homeless men at a local shelter. At a time when St. Louis was already down, after losing to the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, I was helping my father, who was a landlord of Section 8 apartments, clean out a recent apartment unit that had been recently evicted. My father was forced to evict a family that had not paid their small subsidized rent for six months, and the government had actually evicted the family. I had gone to bring out a bag of clothes that were left behind to the dumpster, a woman came up to me and gestured for the bag. As I handed it to her, she called back toward nearby bushes where a boy, only a couple of years younger than me emerged. He took the bag, said, “Thank you,” and then, together, they walked away. After retelling the experience to my father, he told me that they were the family who had just been evicted. As a young boy, I felt terrible - this other young boy was just like me - black, living in St. Louis - and if fate had been different, I could have been in his shoes. Now, as an adult, I know that the government and systems meant to alleviate poverty failed this family. Anytime I question why I have dedicated my entire career to community service, I remember the young black boy who once lived in my father’s apartment building.
I will be a leading voice for affordability in Boston.
From St. Louis, I studied Communications at Ottawa University in Kansas, volunteering on several student groups. Moving to New Jersey following my graduation, I enrolled in Seton Hall University. There, I pursued two Master's programs, one in Public Administration and Diplomacy and International Relations. In my first year as a Master’s student, and at the age of 22, I was fed up with inequities that persisted in our education system and co-founded Student Voice. This organization mobilizes youth voice to be active participants in their education and believes that all should be invited and have a voice at decision-making tables. I continue to value student input and that of youth and other marginalized communities, who are often left out of political discourse.
I will provide accessible ways to civically participate in our city government.
I have seen first hand the struggle young people face in this community, and for nearly eight years, I have been a Program Manager working to improve the systems that impact their lives. In my current role at Citizens for Juvenile Justice, I partner with teachers, judges, lawyers, law enforcement, probation officers, social workers, parents and young people on systemic change. In 2018, because of this collaborative effort, Massachusetts passed the most comprehensive criminal justice reform bill. However, we must continue to identify the root causes that perpetuate injustice.
I will work as a coalition builder to identify and sustain community-driven solutions to systemic injustice.
Living with my wife, Najmia, and cat, Oreo, on the Allston/ Brighton line along Comm. Ave., I have found a home here in Boston. My wife & I practice Ninujustu at Boston’s Martial Arts Center in Allston. We meet friends for dinner at Victoria’s Seafood. We attend community meetings and rally with our neighbors for change.
I am here to stay and will build a united Allston/Brighton as your next City Councillor.
My story is one of defying expectations. I graduated from an inner city unaccredited high school and through the values instilled in me by my family, I was able to complete two masters degrees while fighting for greater equity in our higher education system. I am so grateful that I have been able to use my passion for policy and my commitment to community service as the cornerstone of my professional life.
I want to be your City Councilor to stand up for everyone in our community, whether you are here for four months or for four generations. I will unite our district. I want to be Allston/Brighton’s resource, champion, and voice in City Hall.