Financial Advisor, The PCMW Group at Morgan Stanley
Alignment Rockford Pathways Committee
Bio and Professional Experience
I am a life-long Rockford resident and a 1995 Guilford graduate before getting my degree from Augustana College. I have been an advisor for the last 11 years at Morgan Stanley, where I lead a wealth management team working with successful individuals and families along with corporate retirement plans. I’m active on Alignment Rockford’s Pathways Team, Rockford Public School’s Budget & Finance Subcommittee, and I’ve been a member of Next Rockford since 2010 where I currently serve as the Vice-Facilitator and Education Committee Chair. For fun, I love playing competitive tennis, working out, and spending time with my wife, Tenille, and our 3 kids, Elise, Greyson, & Emery.
When and why did you first get involved with Alignment Rockford?
I have been involved with Alignment Rockford since one of the first meetings back in July of 2010. The perception of education in Rockford has been a huge issue for me along with the fact that I graduated from a public school and wanted my kids to excel in Rockford Public Schools. Prior to being a financial advisor, I was also a math and science teacher for the Gifted Program at West Middle School and at Keith School. Those years of teaching certainly helps me in my business today but also taught me how incredible the impact of great teaching and great schools can be on kids in our community.
The Pathways team in which you are a member has evolved a great deal since its inception. Could you tell us some of the major work that has been accomplished from this team and how it has impacted Rockford?
We started as the K-5 committee back in 2010, focused on increasing parent participation with their children at King School. We used King’s Family Fun Night’s to engage the parents with their kids and gave them monthly opportunities to stay more involved. Then we helped organize parents and volunteers for a Career Fair at Lewis Lemon in order to give students the opportunity to see all that they could become in the future. As the Academies have expanded to all of the high schools over the last few years and that process has really had an impact, we felt like changing our focus from elementary students to connecting our high school students to their future jobs could really resonate. To me that’s the benefit of Alignment Rockford, everyone in the room has an equal say as to where the committee is headed and what we are trying to accomplish on a daily basis. We are all taking our own time to shape a process for improving schools and it never works out perfectly or even as expected, but we learn from each engagement and keep trying to improve.
The Pathways team is now refocusing on work-based learning opportunities for RPS high school students. Could you tell us why work-based learning opportunities such as internships are important experiences for the students and community to be involved in?
Work-based learning opportunities truly bring what you are learning at school to life. An internship allows you to put the math skills you just learned at school to work to solve an actual problem for an employer. I believe that students who go through that situation will never forget how to handle those problems and if we are lucky, they’ll go back to school after an internship anxious to learn more so that they can apply it in the future. Not only does it push the students out of the comfort of a text book and into problem solving situations but internships also help them develop relationships. It’s those relationships that will keep them living and working here or help bring those that leave for college back to Rockford.
With our holiday edition we wanted to highlight a team member who is really in the spirit of giving. You obviously give back to the community in so many ways with your involvement in Next Rockford and Alignment Rockford but you also have coordinated a coat drive the last couple of years for Rockford Public School students. Could you tell us a little more about this?
When you live in a diverse city like ours with a large school district there are so many ways the average person can help out. Opportunities to truly make a difference that don’t take a ton of time or a ton of money are easy to come by. Last year Next Rockford ran its first book drive hoping to collect 900 gently used books, so that every 3rd – 5th grader at 5 schools could have a book to take home for the summer and read over and over again. We ended up having 7500 books donated which allowed us to put multiple books in the hands of those kids at 15 local elementary schools. Currently, we are helping to fill volunteer positions in the Science Technology Engineering & Math program at Froberg Elementary. Children meet for an hour once a week with engineers from Sundstrand who help them build fantastic projects, like a jet car! The kids love it and everyone has time to volunteer once for 60 minutes. If you’re looking to get involved I’d encourage you to contact Marsha Sisney, she’s the district’s Parent & Community Engagement Supervisor, one of the most positive people I know. Call her at 815-966-3271, she will give you a ton of guidance on what you could do to impact Rockford students or just help cheer you on with your own idea! Currently, through Next Rockford and Alignment Rockford we are running our annual Boots & Coats drive. There are still too many elementary students that walk to school in a foot of snow in tennis shoes and a hoodie. This is an easy way to take your children’s gently used winter coats and boots and impact students across the city. Or swing by Target during a Christmas sale and pick up a pair of snow boots for a first grade child whose parents can’t afford them. You can find a full list of the drop off locations on the Alignment Rockford website but they include all of the Beef a’ Roo’s and all of the Rockford Fire Stations.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Volunteering in Rockford, whether it’s through Alignment Rockford or one of our many non-profits, doesn’t have to be a full time or even a part-time job. An hour here and an hour there can allow you to have a bunch of fun, meet some great people, and have a huge impact!