Orphaned in a closed record State, West Virginia, conditions for my adoptive parents were squalid and dirty. Compensated with company script payable only for goods at the overpriced company store. Chopping wood for burning in the stove for cooking and washing with hot water, no electricity or running water, kerosene lamps, and an outhouse. Scraping coal out of the mountain on hands and knees as the coal seams ran out became more dangerous and difficult on a daily basis even as the demand grew. My parents knew we were running out of time and began to look for a better way. Following the trains burgeoning with coal on the way to Norfolk and Savannah, they followed the tracks thru thru the valleys to Virginia. My father learned to fly an antique plane with friends in the hills, providing a pathway to eventual work in commercial airlines who needed pilots with mountain experience.
I was inspired by how my father overcame lack of a high school education and constantly trained and re-trained with advances in aviation and how unions brought worker protection, safety, education, and quality products. My mother taught me the value of volunteering time and talent to help others, never stopping. Hailing from the steel mills near Pittsburgh, my wife had a similar childhood. I experienced firsthand what happens when your energy source runs out. My town of coal baron built shacks was eventually bulldozed. My family experienced a Virginia that had not yet gone through desegregation, which meant separate schools, neighborhoods, ambulances, and hospitals. We learned the valuable lessons of living together as another subject.
Something About Mary
This is where others learned not to tell me I can't do something. College not being recommended for me turned into hard work and entry into top colleges and my choice of a small, top-ranked, big Science, small class-sized State college, Mary Washington. I never really paid attention to the makeup of this school, which had very recently been the women's college to an all-male UVA. The college was named for George's mother, as the family farm was nearby and George's mother was a Tory loyal to the English King. Mary managed a very large group of children with no husband but help in the fields from slave workers. She pleaded with George not to join many of his cousins in the English Navy, so when it came time to end his plantation life and establish a country, he moved his mother to Fredericksburg under the watchful eye of his brother Charles, who managed a tavern there. I relished the college's homage to George's mother and joined in the later protests to prevent renaming the college after George. The protest shown at left was in support of President Carter's work to free our hostages in Iran.
I wasn't really ready for the implications of a 33:1 female:male ratio and learned to experience discrimination at every turn. Cat calls, pinching, dog whistles, and indifference were normal. Worse, it was difficult to work in Science classes where teams were often required and I was the only male. No honor or language houses for males because we would just tear things up. The pinnacle was a top female professor who, when I asked how I could improve my grades after comparing work with my classmates, put her hand on my knee and stated: "Patrick I just don't expect men to write or draw as well as women, thus the lower grades…" After taking her to academic court, she became my advisor and a great friend for life. The experiences helped me learn some of what it meant to be a minority, recognize bias, and to take corrective action. In my first work out of college as a Science educator in Virginia, the principal asked me not to mention evolution as the dinosaur fossils we used to dig out of the mountains might make some people upset.
Building Sustainable Business
I earned undergraduate degrees from Mary Washington University; a Computer Science degree, and an MBA in Sustainability from Green Mountain College. Ross Perot pulled me from the ranks of Science Education, stating that "he had enough geeks, but needed people like me who could explain how to harness the benefits of their technology investments". Built a successful career of progressive senior sales and alliance leadership roles with high-tech companies such as EDS, Lotus, IBM, Siebel, Radiance Solar, salesforce, AT&T Mobility, ChargePoint, CloudBank, and TerraScale - his teams have produced over $12 Billion in value to the organizations where he's led in harnessing and democratizing both data and energy.
He founded two renewable energy companies and is on the board of several clean energy startups. Certified in NABCEP Solar PV and Solar Thermal, Government Contracting, Cybersecurity, Entrepreneurship, LEED AP, Energy Management, and is a Lighting Energy Efficiency Professional. Consults with global organizations on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and EV infrastructure.
Paying it Forward
Active with youth through groups like the Blue Green Alliance and Scouting International, he's helping to inspire the next generation to participate more fully in their business and personal accountability. On the National Diversity Council for Scouting, he's worked to make Scouting more like what youth will experience in life, expanding to include academically challenged, LGBT, and females. As an Eagle himself and after 16 years as a Scoutmaster, he's helped shepherd nearly 100 Scouts in earning their Eagle Leadership Service Awards. Serves as Executive Director of two non-profits providing advisory services aimed at increasing inclusive investments towards a clean energy and cooperative framework that builds a more resilient economy. Established one of those non-profits to address knowledge of energy transformation among youth much like many of us learned the value of recycling.
As a committee member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals and the American Sustainable Business Council/Social Venture Circle, he's worked to create a more circular economy through decarbonization projects that move beyond sustainability to regenerative systems, to identify and correct climate justice situations, to expand true inclusion, and to broaden the definition of success to include all Stakeholders. He's working on the National Clean Energy Plan Task Force towards making business transformation happen thru positive collaboration. Thru the Sustainable Business Council, he's working on a Georgia business collaborative advocating for democracy and voting rights for November and beyond. As Executive Director for the Greening Georgia Caucus of the Democratic Party he's working to ensure environmental solutions are at the top of State policy initiatives.