Where were you born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?
I was born in Richmond until I joined the military at 19 years old. After traveling around the country (and world), I started looking for a forever job and a forever home. My wife was pregnant when I found an opportunity as a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey (my actual job) in Reston and we moved to Leesburg not long after. We fell in love with Loudoun right away as it is the perfect blend of all the activities and convenience I grew up with and the small town feel my wife grew up in. It’s perfect!
Tell us about your current business/nonprofit, and how you got into your current line of work.
After coming out as transgender to my family in 2018 and to the world in 2019, I sought community, understanding, education, advocacy, and acceptance. It was easily found with all the incredible people at Equality Loudoun. During COVID, leadership moved on to other opportunities and I stepped into the role of President in 2021. Following through with the vision left by our senior leaders and with an incredible new team, we were able to officially become a non-profit and grow the mission to help more people. This mission is close to my heart as I meet new people all the time who are looking for the same things I once was.
Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that influenced your career?
I had two mentors in my full-time job at the Survey, both were incredible supervisors and scientists. Joyce was so vital in helping me understand the importance of scientific rigor, as well as the value of experience and historical knowledge. Patty was always listening to my crazy new ideas and willing to challenge the status quo, seeking to move things forward. By learning the best that both of them had to teach, I feel I’ve learned to balance the need to honor our history while paving pathways ahead.
What is the best part of your job and why?
Depends on which one! It surprises people when I tell them I’m more of an introvert, so I love the research and learning that I get to experience in my career as a scientist. I’m a total nerd for a spreadsheet! With Equality Loudoun, I love getting to help people. Every day, we get emails and calls from people and families who are working through a variety of challenges – from where can I get a haircut safely to how can we support our child. Knowing that having these conversations and sharing these resources can help bring a major impact into someone’s life is vital and can make all the difference. I also love getting to provide educational seminars- taking everything we have learned and sharing it with the world. I find that once someone can connect with who we as LGBTQ+ people are, they can truly empathize with the situations and challenges we face.
What is it like owning/running a business or nonprofit in Loudoun?
Loudoun is an incredible environment to be able to run a non-profit with its diverse and inclusive businesses and the phenomenal places to bring folks together. Through our Equality Allies program, we have brought over 60 business owners together in just 7 months to create a network of affirming and inclusive places that LGBTQ+ people know are safe, including doctors, places of worship, therapists, non-profits, and small businesses. I’ve gotten to meet with hair stylists, candlemakers, book store owners, craft brewers, and more; every one of them is an absolutely wonderful person. It really reflects the friendly and equity-minded community that is Loudoun County!
What does Pride month mean to you?
I believe Pride is about harnessing the point where past, present, and future meet. Pride started with a riot over the fundamental rights to exist for people who were perceived as different. We are still fighting this fight today, perhaps in an even more dangerous environment. When we held the Loudoun Pride Festival, it was imperative that it was safe for all of these families who just needed a chance to show support to each other and celebrate their unique and authentic selves. We have been under continuous attack for nearly 60 years and we’ve only started seeing improvement in the last decade, only to have it regress quickly in the last 3 years. But I believe Pride is an acknowledgement of our hardships in getting to this moment, our struggles that we face here and now, and the promise of a better tomorrow.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not working?
Definitely spending time with my beautiful wife and amazing kids. For now, our kids are still young enough to want to hang out with us and we do everything together! We love exploring new places, camping, trying out different restaurants, and even just having a family movie night at home, laughing until everyone is (finally!) ready for bed.
Thank you to Cris Candice Tuck for being today’s spotlight! Check out the Equality Loudoun website here.