My path in life has not been easy and has had many ups and downs. I am blessed because I had an incredible mother who taught me that with hard work and dedication, I could change my outcome in life. My early memories are of a single mother who worked two and three jobs to get by and provide a life for her two boys. I watched my mother move back in with her parents to provide a stable and safe home for her young boys. And I recall how I gained a new appreciation for my mom later in my childhood, when my she married my stepfather and decided then she was creating a stronger future to ensure my brother and I would have a better path in life than the one she had. Witnessing my mother’s hard work and sacrifice established the foundation of my character and my values that would guide me throughout life.

Our new family took me to a little town in Florida called Chipley, where I would grow up on a dirt road in a single wide trailer that didn’t have air conditioning. My mom and stepfather worked hard every day and many times nights to take care of me and my brother. From that experience, I learned the value of true hard work and commitment. I didn’t have a college fund waiting for me, but I knew a college education would provide me the stepping stone I desperately wanted for a better way of life. I worked my way through college and joined the military to help pay for it. I served for 10 years in the US Army, in multiple leadership positions, before choosing to leave my military service for a new opportunity. As I look back now, I realize I would not have had the opportunities in my life if not for my college education, my time in the military and the grace of God.

The path of opportunity brought me to Fayetteville, North Carolina in 2000 to work with one of my former Army bosses and mentors, Clarence Briggs, who was the owner and President of AIT, Inc. in Downtown Fayetteville. Throughout the last 18 years, I have lived in Fayetteville, I have helped others grow their businesses and started my own businesses. I have created jobs for others and I have learned valuable business lessons from men and women I have worked with closely. Today, I own and operate 219 Group, a full-service marketing, advertising and PR firm which I opened almost 10 years ago.

The second biggest blessing in my life was meeting and marrying my wife, Jenny Beaver deViere, in 2012, and being a part of the birth of our son, Greyson, in December 2016. One of my greatest disappointments is that my mom never got to meet my beautiful baby boy. She passed away in November 2015, but I am reminded daily of a mother’s love for a son as I watch Jenny with Grey.

My fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and the Army instilled in me a sense of service. My wife likes to say “it is in my DNA”. Fayetteville and Cumberland County are my home, and I have rolled up my sleeves and worked as a volunteer in our community. While serving as Chair of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, I led the creation of a defense incubator that created jobs and generated investment back into our community; I helped create a young professionals organization to help keep our young people in Fayetteville; I worked side by side with hundreds of volunteers packing care packages for our military overseas, and have helped host the Boots & Booties Baby Showers for thousands of military mothers; I also work to “connect” Fayetteville State University with our city in service as a Trustee at the prominent HBCU (Historically Black College & University).

In November of 2015, I was elected to serve as a district representative for Fayetteville City Council. This district contains some of the poorest and wealthiest streets in the city. I have been committed to providing a voice to many who hadn’t had a voice. Ironically, it was during this time that I found my voice and a bigger purpose. It was during the months leading up to the election in 2015, as my mother lay sick, that she reminded me “with hard work you can change outcomes”, and how proud of me she was because I had changed my outcome in life. It was then that I knew we had to work together as a community to change the outcome for our children and create pathways to help each other lead better lives, regardless of the zip code we were born into. While I was part of a team that accomplished many great things on City Council, it is the work that we began and I am still continuing with the Pathways For Prosperity project that I know will change the outcomes for our community. Pathways For Prosperity is creating a shared vision and unity of action across Cumberland County to reduce generational poverty. In simple terms, we seek to ensure that all of us have an opportunity to achieve prosperity and a chance for a better life than our parents. Isn’t that what we all want for our children? Rich or poor. Boy or girl.

My work with Pathways For Prosperity has been a very “eye-opening” experience for me because I have witnessed first-hand how our community continues to leave people behind. We are not building a future for our next generation, we are actually making it harder for many to achieve the American Dream. We must stand up and fight to ensure that everyone has equal access to the opportunities and basic rights they deserve.

I believe that now is the time for me to become part of the team that is working to restore common sense, impact real change, and together, build a better North Carolina for us all.