We are all a product of the sum of our life’s experiences beginning with where we were raised in our formative years, and the values that were built into our character by our parents, grandparents, community, and culture. I was blessed with a unique set of circumstances in which to grow up. I was born to a time, place and style of life that no longer exists. Who I am and what I know today is a direct result of this experience.
I was born and raised in Leonardtown, Maryland on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, in Maryland. The community I was raised in enjoyed isolation from much of the progress, and strife, of the rest of the U.S. during my formative years. While my grandfather, father, uncles, and some cousins were judges, lawyers and medical doctors, the community I lived in was dominated by farmers and watermen.
Beginning with my paternal grandfather, a lawyer and respected circuit court judge—born in the later-half of the 19th century, I was taught that our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world must be as a contributing member of the community and our success in becoming integral in our community would be based on our integrity, strength, commitment, and character. These characteristics he instilled in all of his children who went on to become respected doctors, lawyers, devoted wives, a sister of charity, and a Xavarian brother. Each of his children dedicated their lives to serving god, country, community, and family. My father became a respected lawyer. Many of my in-laws and friends were farmers, and watermen. These are a people whose lives were innately close to the land and the water, who made their livings from the bounty and fertility of the surrounding area, and lived in a manner more akin to the first half of the 20th century. The 1950s and 1960s were my formative years when neighbors not only helped neighbors, but when people relied on community support for survival. No one who felt they were above hard work and support of others survived very long in this community.
As some grew up the son of farmers, watermen, and business owners, I grew up the son of a lawyer. I spent much of my youth after school either in my father and uncle’s law office or on the boat with my brother-in-law and his associates, fishing, oystering, hunting and trapping. This ideal existence gave me a breadth of background to be uninhibited by complicated issues as one sees in legal contracts and equally at home with simpler commitments as one finds in the field or on the boat with those who live off the land. This experience gave me the best environment to learn confidence in myself, and my abilities, and to understand that we can all do anything that we put our mind to, and accomplish with diligence and perseverance what often seems impossible as well as recognizing the consequences of lack of character. Living in a historically water based community also gave me mobility to go almost anywhere at a very early age by boat; something that people in other communities that relied on autos could not. Boats, in those days, did not require a license, so I had a level of freedom and access at a very early age that stimulated my mind, built personal reliance, and enhanced my skills at overcoming obstacles and achieving objectives.
I was educated, and mentored, through a series of parochial schools that emphasized strong catholic or religious values, respect for others, the value of hard work, education, and the ability to learn effectively and efficiently. My military education instilled in me a strong respect for discipline, improvisation, adaptability, responsibility, value of teamwork, dogged persistence, and leadership skill. My higher education emphasized science, biometrics, human nature and understanding, philosophy, systemic natural selection, and systems integration. All these things both directly, and in the abstract, I have applied throughout my business career.
My early business career included; working in, and later managing, a dry cleaners, working in the funeral business, managing science laboratories and teaching at the college level, operating bookstores, designing and managing the build-out of period (17th century) construction, retail sales of groceries, shoes and clothing, music equipment, computer products; wholesale distribution of computers, printers, telecommunications devices; manufacturing of software, computers, printers, wired and wireless earpieces, and other products; development of catalog sales companies, franchise sales companies, and more.
My mid-period business career developed as the founder and head of an innovative consulting company providing integrated business solutions to many companies on many continents, and eventually focusing on providing unique incubator services for start-up companies and equally innovative “iron-lung” services for companies in trouble. During this period we developed a breadth of practice that prompted one of my associated to say to a client, “We have clients from the outhouse to the penthouse.” With clients in the area of sanitary and wastewater management all the way to personal electronic device manufacturing, and robotics we have covered a lot of territory. At the peak of my consulting period, spanning almost 18 years, we had clients all across the United States, Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Italy, Germany, Japan, and China.
In my latest incarnation, for the last eight years I have been focused in the critical need area of healthcare primarily on the underserved community segment. I served as the Chief Operating Officer of a corporation that was focused on providing efficient systems to help providers and sponsors address the needs of various underserved communities like those of mental health, HIV/AIDS, prisons, and patient assistant programs. During this period I also worked quite a bit in building two non-profit organizations also focused on serving the needs of the underserved and helping take care of the most fragile among us. It was through this service and advocacy that I became active in Helena, Montana, Sacramento, California, and Washington D.C. advising and influencing the legislatures and congress on how best to serve the needs of the underserved, and developed my political voice.
It was this this latest experience that led to my focused effort in the past four years, first advocating specific policies directed at what now is the Affordable Care Act, and now advising on how to amend and correct the act to better address the needs of our health care system. Along the way, unconsciously for the most part, I began a journey to try to understand how we arrived at where we are today with a fractious and inefficient healthcare system that despite its expense and shortcomings is still one of the most respected in the world. I began to understand why it does not work, what the impediments are, and what fundamentally we can do to fix it. I have often heard how working with congress is like making sausage. Growing up where I did, at an early age I actually learned how to make sausage. I can tell you from my own experience, that to call what happens in Washington D.C. akin to sausage making is an insult to hard working sausage makers everywhere!
This quest led me to write a whitepaper called, “Road-Map to Sanity: A Proposal to Repeal/Revise the Affordable Care Act for America,” in October, 2010. This effort then led me, with a lot of encouragement from others, to take my understanding of the existing problems to a whole new level. This culminated in the researching writing of my new book, “The History and Evolution of Healthcare in America: The untold backstory of where we’ve been, where we are, and why healthcare needs more reform.” Along this journey, I have read every page of almost every piece of legislation, and offered constructive comments to, almost every suggested bill from all the committees that were actively offering proposals on health care reform; including those from Senator Kennedy’s HELP committee (the first bill offered), the ways and means committee, the finance committee, and most of the others as well. In the various drafts alone, I estimate this to be in excess of 10,000 pages of legislation. At the completion of the process, I am likely one of the few that has read every page of the final legislation. Further, as I was preparing to write the book, I also researched and read over 12,000 pages of information covering the various historical periods and prior laws and legislation that now affect our current system.
This work has kindled a strong passion to try to make a difference just as my father and grandfather taught me. While I am clearly now in a much larger community I believe that it is my life's experience that has given me the perspective to apply what I have learned and gave me the initiative to accept a request from then mayor of Oakland, Jerry Brown, to join the board of directors, and later to become president of the board, of his charter school the Oakland School for the Arts. This further expressed my interest in helping underserved communities, and to understand how to use technology to build delivery systems for the values that I gained from my parents, beyond just business and hard work, I think it is also important to include programs that support the elevation of people through an appreciation for art, literature, music, and philosophy.
We all need to give something back. Giving back should not just be about writing a check to assuage guilt. In pursuit of my own effort to make a difference to others in addition to ad hoc volunteer work I also serve on the board of the Staphylococcus Education Leadership Foundation (SELF), a non-profit 501C3 organization dedicated to research and education on the recognition, treatment and prevention of gram-positive infections with a particular interest in community associated infections. This need is another of the areas I have come to realize; through my collective experiences over the past fifteen years is a huge risk to us as people, and as a species. I now believe that this is perhaps one of the future’s greatest threats to healthcare and this is one of the problems discussed extensively in my upcoming book.
I am currently focused in finding business opportunities where I can share my knowledge, expertise, resources, and guidance through consulting, board memberships, writing, and public speaking.
Having recently retired from my role as COO at my last company and I am once again involved in consulting to a variety of companies, participating as part of angel investment groups including, The Keiretsu Forum, working with strong leadership groups like, The Global Leaders, and looking for the next adventure to capture my interests. I also am invited to speak widely about healthcare and the economy and I continue to write articles for California Political Review, Salon.com’s OpenSalon Blog, and my own, "History and Evolution of Healthcare in America" blog.