Personal LifeI was born in Long Beach, California in June of 1975 by my courageous mother, Astrid Van. She raised me and three older siblings, Rodney, Anthony and Rosemary as a single parent; which came with its own challenges for a child growing up in a city with gangs, crime and drugs. I lost my mother at the young age of 13 to cancer and moved in with my older brother, Rodney. My time with Rodney enforced my love for football, which I excelled at and I’m fortunate enough to say that he became the father I never had. While living with my brother I attended Horace Mann 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.
Local Government Experience
In 2013, I spent a year as Communication Director for San Diego City Councilmember and Council President Myrtle Cole. Myrtle Cole was the Councilmember for District 4, which includes some of the most underserved neighborhoods in San Diego County. 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.
Since becoming a resident of Solana Beach in 2003, I served on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Solana Beach Library and was an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce.
I am currently a part of the leadership of Solana Beach 4 Equality, a group pushing for greater diversity and racial equity in Solana Beach and beyond and the founder of Sister Cities Project, supporting my life’s true passion, creating changes for true racial justice in America.
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 run my own digital marketing consulting company.
Life in Solana Beach
You can find me at one of our many coffee shops chatting with locals about anything from the weather to solving the world’s problems. My life’s purpose has landed me in a unique situation where I’m able to bridge the conversational divide between affluent white communities and black communities fighting for a chance to build their own dream in America today. This passion pushed me to run for City Council in 2018 and I look forward to future endeavors in our local government.