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I am a fourth-generation Washingtonian and native of Ward 5, raised in a working-class family of six in the Stronghold neighborhood of Northeast. My parents, an electrician and a library technician, taught my three siblings and me the importance of family, hard work, education and public service. I attended Shaed Elementary in Edgewood, St. Anthony Grade School in Brookland, and graduated from Woodrow Wilson Jackson-Reed high school, where I played varsity basketball.

After graduating high school, I worked as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. Initially enrolling at the University of the District of Columbia, I eventually transferred to and graduated summa cum laude from Howard University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Community Development. I am the first man in my family ever to graduate from college.




After college, I joined the staff of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. The experience in Congresswoman Norton’s office propelled me into a career in public service and social justice. I left Congresswoman Norton’s office to attend the University of Maryland School of Law, where I was an editor of the law school’s Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class. The course work and experience with the journal would leave a lasting impression on me and my desire to help those seeking justice from our judicial system.

After law school, I became a law clerk for an Associate Judge on the 7th Judicial Circuit of Maryland. I then became an Assistant State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County. I saw first-hand where I believed the justice system worked and opportunities where it could be improved, especially for our most underserved communities. That’s why I joined the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), where, as a trial attorney, I enforced key federal civil rights laws in cases throughout the country. My caseload at the DOJ included defending the civil rights of the mentally ill, nursing home residents, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations.

Being a civil rights trial attorney for the DOJ was my dream job. But at the same time, I saw my community continue to struggle and miss out on the fruits of the economic revitalization the city had experienced since my teenage years in the 1980s. I couldn’t ignore the feeling that I wanted to do more for the neighborhood and city that raised me. That’s why I became president of my civic association and took a job as a policy advisor with the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, where I worked first-hand with Councilmembers to shape policy and legislation in the District of Columbia.


In 2012, I was elected to the Ward 5 seat on the DC Council. For the last 10 years, I have prided myself in building coalitions and coming up with solutions to tackle DC’s most significant challenges. My colleagues quickly took notice and in the first year of my term, elected me to serve as Chairman Pro Tempore (Vice Chair), a position I continue to hold today. I take great pride in coming up with legislative solutions that, more often than not, pass with my colleagues’ unanimous support.

In 2017, I chaired the Judiciary Committee. I helped usher in sweeping updates to DC’s criminal justice laws. We successfully passed comprehensive juvenile justice reform that ended the use of solitary confinement, life sentences, and indiscriminate shackling of juveniles in court. I also oversaw the implementation of DC’s police body-worn camera program, including ensuring that the public has fair access to the video footage from encounters with officers.


I am proud of my progressive record of championing laws that ended unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles to access to housing and employment for individuals with criminal records or poor credit. But one of my proudest moments on the Council is passing the “Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act.” The law takes a holistic approach to preventing crime in the first instance and floods communities disproportionately impacted by violence with resources – including violence interrupters and behavioral and mental health services – in addition to more innovative, data-driven policing.


I have chaired the Council’s Business and Economic Development Committee for the past five years. My focus has been on helping grow our local economy with a stronger focus on supporting small and minority-owned businesses. I fought to put millions of dollars in the Commercial Acquisition Fund to allow socially disadvantaged business owners to apply for grants to purchase commercial properties here in DC. I also secured grant funding for community development financial institutions and minority deposit institutions that provide critical access to capital to entrepreneurs of color.


Unfortunately, the pandemic exacerbated many of the problems for our city’s business owners, particularly black and brown business owners. That’s why I spearheaded an emergency relief package of $100 million to help the hospitality, entertainment, and retail industries – some of DC’s largest employers of immigrants and minority workers – weather the pandemic as best as possible and keep District employees on the payroll. A portion of that money was provided exclusively to restaurants and retailers owned by economically disadvantaged business owners.


My wife, Princess, and I live in my childhood home in Stronghold with our two daughters, Kesi and Jozi. I am very proud of them and can’t thank Princess enough for being the rock in my life. I will leave it at that before I embarrass them anymore.

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