I am a public servant, I am a traveler, I am a lover of art, I am a believer who walks by faith. I am a technologist. I am one who appreciates continuous learning either through direct experiences or from listening and/or witnessing the experiences of others. I am one who deeply believes that the environment deserves our protection as it is a gift from God, and a gift that has offered us protection. For this reason, I truly love all of God’s creation, from the earth, to the people, to the countless species of plants and trees, and the majestic animals that roam about this planet. I believe that God creates each person with unique gifts, a unique story, and a unique journey. Our responsibility as human beings toward one another is to learn from that uniqueness, accept that uniqueness, and ensure that all have an opportunity to apply their gift for the benefit of future generations.
Early Life & Background
I grew up in the snow-covered lake side City of Rochester, New York. Nestled along the coast of Lake Ontario, and parted by the flowing waters of the Genesee River, while I did not appreciate it as a child, the City is beautiful. The site of the many bridges and factories aligning the river, all covered in snow during the winter (which is just about year-round), is amazing. The only issue is too much snow and far too cold, LOL. There is so much snow, that there are different name types and categories: there is lake-effect snow, snow flurries, moist snow, dry snow, snow with percentages of visibility, snow that sticks or doesn’t stick, and of course snow .My childhood memories are littered with accounts navigating through snowy mountains that fell from the skies covering my passageway to either the front door or my school bus stop.The snow was too much!
In highschool I studied performing arts at the School of the Arts. My interest in both travel and performing arts started in elementary school. My elementary school teachers were quite frustrated with the young student who would finish his assignments early, and spend the remainder of class time talking with other students or – asking difficult questions. The school counselor said to them, “Joseph is bored, you’ve got to find a way to keep his attention.” My third-grade teacher, James Perkins, had the perfect solution, he invited me to join a drama and dance group called the “Black the Seeds.” The group was well known both locally and nationally, as they performed throughout the City, toured the Country, and even performed at the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter. The part that intrigued me the most, was their recent opportunity to perform in Africa.
At this point in my life, I had never left the City of Rochester. Listening to the stories of travel to a foreign country, and viewing the pictures, artwork, keepsakes upon their return, I was sold. Sign me up to perform; I want to know the world. I was further encouraged by other teachers who shared their stories of travel to Japan, India, and Latin America, the list was endless, each story better than the last. I knew in my heart, I wanted to travel, and if performing arts was the gateway, call me Denzel.
Once I got over my stage fright, I loved performing arts. As a member of the Black Seeds, I performed all across the country reciting poetry and monologues. The experience taught me alot about myself, people, and about the joy of visiting different cities and towns across the country.
Technology & College
I’m sure it was an absolute disappointment for my highschool teachers when I announced I would not continue my journey in performing arts as I looked toward college. While I enjoyed the school plays, and found success as a young actor appearing in several local productions, ventured into modeling, and worked with the Tony award-winning Garth Fagan Dance group, my family was not well off. I wanted a future more secure and stable than the life of a starving artist. In addition to excelling in performing arts, I also found that computer programming and hardware assembly were skills that I learned very easily.
In addition to my performances, in my spare time, I learned C++, Perl, and built my own personal computer from scratch. I created a music share website, and hoped my mother never saw the copy of the legal notice I received from the hosting company that the site was eventually shut down for illegally sharing copyrighted materials. But the success of the site and the ease of understanding computer concepts coupled with the opportunity to pursue a much more stable financial future diverted me away from performing arts into the technology field.
For undergraduate studies, I went to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Where I graduated with a bachelor’s in Computer Science. For graduate studies, I attended Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, where I received my master’s in Computer Science.
Since 2008, I have worked as a systems integration and technology consultant. In this capacity, I assist federal, state, and local government entities with the project management, technology architecture design, security design, and systems implementation and administration of enterprise, resource planning, and analytics systems.
I started my career working for a top ten consulting firm, however, after six years of climbing the corporate ladder, I was able to branch off and start my own consulting firm which I have managed for the last six years.
I grew up in the Church. My family church is Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God In Christ, in Rochester, NY. During my undergraduate studies, I sang in the Atlanta University Center choir, and enjoyed my time on the praise team and working as a chapel assistant at King Memorial Chapel on the Morehouse campus.
As a child, while always in the comfort of believers, I didn’t always find solace in scripture or even consider myself a true believer. It was not until an unforgettable moment in the office of my high school administrator that I found the courage to accept beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is real and moving through the earth.
I can’t remember what exactly prompted her to do so, but my administrator called me into her office one morning as students rushed to our homeroom class. I recalled thinking that I must be in trouble for something but was quickly set to ease as she began to talk about noticing me day to day. Noticing how usually, there was a certain excitement about my personality, but lately, it had all but disappeared. She was right, there was a lot going on at home, and outside of school, and it had taken its toll on my smile. But then she mentioned that she overheard a conversation with another student where she felt I all but dismissed religion. I hadn’t gone too far, but I shared my doubts. I was a good student, and that didn’t stop with my academic studies, I read my bible and in the conversation she referenced I shared with another student my frustrations with the story of Job. It seemed so unfair to me. Perhaps this was a window into my life that my administrator noticed. She spoke with me about Job, and God, and the lessons of the bible. We debated and laughed, and spoke honestly, and I missed my first class, LOL, but it was worth it. At the end of the conversation, I was smiling again, and I’ll never forget her final words, “Joseph, this is a conversation between us. I trust you as a student, you know religion is a permitted topic. I want you to remember, I too struggled with my faith as a teen, but someone pulled me to the side and reminded me ‘I’d rather have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.’”
Public Service & The City Council
I am appreciative of the day my school administrator took the morning to minister to my heart and my life during a time I really needed to hear all that she had to say. I’m glad to have taken her advice, and accepted the comfort and assurance of faith. As she predicted one can never know the future God has in store, we can simply pray for protection against the danger seen and unseen, ask for guidance and comfort along our journey.
Shortly after completing my master’s degree in Computer Science, I found myself in a situation that tested both my individual will and my faith. While visiting family in Rochester, NY I was pulled over by police and that began a 2.5-3yr experience with the court and justice system. It ultimately cost nearly 30K and many tears and disappointments before arriving at a not guilty jury determination. I talk about this experience in more detail in the below video.
After my traumatic experience, while contemplating my frustration with a criminal justice system that offers no safeguards for African-American males, even in the face of clear and overwhelming evidence of innocence, I found myself in a moment of prayer and reflection, transfixed by an article in the local paper, “The Wild West, Who Will Run?”.
Prior to this experience, I found the idea of participating in politics abhorrent and never dreamed of running for elected office. My background is in computer science with an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College, and a graduate degree from Rutgers University. Upon graduation, I figured I would endup in Silicon Valley enjoying the beach life and working for a tech firm.
I followed the City Council meetings closely from home via the cable channel, I started to attend council meetings in-person, I realized I didn’t actually live in the City of Hyattsville but in Green Meadows (the community across from Rosa Parks Elementary School), but as my lease was ending, I moved into an apartment up the road at Kirkwood. At some point during that journey, I joined the Hyattsville Planning Committee as economic development in West Hyattsville was a major concern, and I wanted to understand the roads to progress. When election season finally came around, I filed my candidacy.
I was all set to run, highly motivated, ready to make a change, now a resident of the City, with one not-so-small problem. I had spent my life being a highly academic introverted computer nerd and could not bring myself to actually initiate a campaign.The thought of knocking on doors and talking to people or making phone calls frightened me to my core. I didn’t muster the courage to start door knocking until two weeks before election day when finally I asked myself, “Joseph, are the issues that important to you?” From there I started knocking, I started talking, I wasn’t comfortable but the people of Ward 5 were welcoming, and as I shared with them my concerns and my experience they shared with me the needs and desire for changes in our community and ultimately I won a seat on the Council.
Travel, Language Learning, & World Views
I love to travel. I love to see the world in all its glory, as beautiful and spectacular as God has made it. I love to interact with new people, listen and hear their stories; learning from them through the wisdom and experiences they share.
Travel is my serenity. An opportunity to refresh and revitalize in contrast to long days at work, public service, and the obligations of life.
My most extensive travel has been through Central America and Colombia. However, I have also visited London, Paris, South Africa, Egypt, Taiwan, and Turkey.
I taught myself spanish with assistance from Duo lingo and several visits to spanish speaking countries and lessons at local spanish schools for foreign students.