Local Government Experience
In 2013, I spent a year as Communication Director for San Diego City Councilmember Myrtle Cole who is currently Council president. Myrtle Cole was the councilmember for District 4, which includes some of the most low-income neighborhoods in San Diego. I oversaw public relations, marketing, communications, branding and online marketing for the office.
The most enjoyable part of the role for me was developing and directing the communications to get community support and involvement in the planning and execution of projects that improved the lives of citizens in our district. Most of these projects involved coordination with all city council offices and city departments including Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office.
I gained invaluable experience learning the inner workings of city government in San Diego while developing a broad network of government officials, community leaders, and business owners.
As a city council member in Solana Beach, my platform will leverage this experience and my contacts to offer a fresh perspective.
Life in Solana Beach
I have been a resident of Solana Beach for the past 9 years. Currently, I am on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Solana Beach Library and an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce. In the past few years, I have run community programs at the Solana Beach Library. Those programs included Skin in the Game, a discussion about race relations in America, Finding Voices a monthly town hall meeting discussing the growing issue of teen anxiety and depression and my Youth Campaigns digital marketing training program for High School seniors in the area interested in a career in technology.
I live East of the 5 freeway in the Lomas Santa Fe Villas, which I love. Most people know me because you can find me most mornings before work at one of the two Starbucks here in town discussing how to solve all the world’s problems. The rest of my time is spent hanging out with my best friends, my sons Damion and Quentin. In August Damion starts Kindergarten at Solana Vista while Quentin attends Central Montessori School in Encinitas but will be joining his brother soon. They were two big reasons for me wanting to be a bigger part of the community where they will grow up.
I am very passionate about the well-being and future of Solana Beach. Being on City Council will allow me to bring a fresh perspective and be a part of preserving what makes this the greatest place on earth while helping lead Solana Beach into the future.
I started my career in the internet industry in 1998. The tech boom had just begun and I felt that my background in art was perfectly suited to create masterpieces for businesses using a new technology called web design. As CEO of my first start-up designing minds, I was fortunate to acquire some big contracts. Some of my contracts included development work on the first virtual tour technology, web design for Intuit’s first website, and other web work for companies in the real estate industry such as Coldwell Banker and Century 21. Following the changing of the tide, in 2002 Designing Minds morphed from a web development company into a Search Engine Optimization company. In 2004, my world was forever altered with the advent of WordPress. From that day, I have been a student of social media, the tools used to deploy it and the psychology behind it all.
In the last few years, I have been privileged enough to be a featured speaker on digital marketing strategy and work with some of the biggest brands in the world including WD40, Dexcom and Bumble Bee Tuna. Currently, I work for one of San Diego’s top digital marketing agencies while also running Smart Digital, a digital marketing consulting company.
I was born in Long Beach California on June 2nd, 1975, also home to Snoop Dog, Cameron Diaz, and Desean Jackson. There were lots of gangs, crime, and drugs in my neighborhood. I was born to a single mother, Astrid Van and I have three siblings, my brothers Rodney and Anthony and my sister Rosemary. My dad was not in my life so things were hard for me growing up as a young man. I loved sports and since I excelled at football, my dream was to play in the NFL. My mom died of cancer when I was 13, so I went to live with my brother Rodney in San Diego who was attending San Diego State on a track scholarship at the time. My brother became the father that I never had.
I attended Horace Mann that year and went on to attend Monte Vista High School where I was one of the best football players in the state of California. I was also a Links Achiever, a program that honors the top African-American male seniors for excellence in academics, sports, and community. After High School, I attended Fresno State University where I played wide receiver for the Football team.
My Philanthropic Work
My current labor of love is a non-profit that I founded 5 years ago called Youth Campaigns, a hands-on work experience program that creates a pipeline toward careers in digital marketing for low income, minority and at-risk youth ages 16 -24 in the Greater San Diego area. Youth Campaigns has had over 150 youth participate in the program and has placed nearly one-third of those participants in internships or jobs in the industry. This includes two programs that were held right here in Solana Beach at the local library. During my work with Youth Campaigns, I was recognized as a Union-Tribune notable person and the program has been featured on several news outlets in San Diego.
As a City Councilmember, I would like to champion similar programs for youth in the area to develop their voice through online marketing and provide alternative career paths in technology.