My family taught me the importance of public service while I was growing up. I remember my dad (Pop) sitting to eat dinner with me, my mom, and my brother after a long day at work, and then going to Town Meeting. Later in life he continued this schedule and would also go to Beach Committee meetings on which he served. My mom would do the same, going with him after a long day at work to town meeting to also vote on the town budget and local policies. They went to church weekly and volunteered their time. I remember every year going house to house with my mom to secure donations for the Catholic Charities Appeal and interacting with our neighbors. This was the environment in which I was raised: you should always seek to help and improve your community.
Like many American kids, I started working in the food service industry at 14, which I continued for a decade. On completing my bachelors degree, I took up the family interest in public service by working for the United Way of Rhode Island, a Taunton, Massachusetts school-to-career nonprofit, and then Taunton High School. While doing this I earned an MPA, then moved to the Midwest for a PhD with a public service focus.
I continue my commitment to improving the community in which I live. Some ways I have been able to do so is by serving on the Jacksonville Beach Planning Commission since 2013, and Jacksonville's Public Service Grants Council since 2016. I hear a lot of our residents' concerns in Planning Comission meetings with regard to sound, parking, density, and whether an application is consistent with the neighborhood. On the Public Service Grants Council, I learn a lot about the needs in the broader community, and review applications that nonprofits in Duval county submit for public funding. There are local nonprofits that serve people in need in our community that are awarded funding through the Council.
As a 2013 graduate of Jacksonville Beach's Citizen Police Academy and current member of the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association, I volunteer every week at the Jacksonville Beach Police Department to help those who come to the station seeking information or assistance. In addition, my volunteering allows paid records staff to focus on their work.
When I served on Jacksonville's Task Force on Consolidated Government from 2013-2014, not only did I learn a lot about the relationship between the City of Jacksonville and the Beaches, I also defended the ongoing separation of the Beaches communities from Jacksonville and recommended systems to improve the relationship between the Beaches and the County.
Citizen Police Academy
October 2013 graduation
Beaches Watch May 2014 meeting: Task Force on Consolidated Government Recommendations
Jacksonville Beach Planning Commission meeting
Task Force Community Meeting at
Fletcher High School, 2013.
Board member, 2011-2013
Member, 2011 - present
While government is important, so too are our local nonprofits. I stay active in the nonprofit community by being a Community Coach for nonprofit leaders through the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida. I also served on Deck the Chairs' Board as Vice President, and have been active with the organization since its inception. I consult with nonprofits on strategic planning, strategy, and organizational development. I am also always willing to sit with nonprofit leaders to act as a sounding board and confidant for any issues they may be facing. Regardless of whether it is a public or a nonprofit organization, the ultimate goal is the same: to enhance public value.