I’m often asked, “Hey Jim you have an accent, where are you from?” And I’m happy to share my answer… In the very early 1900s both my mother and father’s parents came to America as immigrants through Ellis Island from Southern Italy. They settled in Brooklyn, where our families lived for the next 110 years. Combined, my mother and father had 18 siblings. Some did not survive through early childhood, and some expanded out into the greater New York area to start their own families, but my family stayed in Brooklyn and I grew up living within walking distance of many of my cousins.
As we grew up, some extended family chose to move from NY. And in 1980, with my freshly earned Computer Science degree, I moved to Colorado to my first engineering job. Then in 1984 I moved to San Jose to expand my career and earn my MBA. My move wasn’t as hard as my grandparents, but like them I moved to find opportunity in a place that welcomed newcomers from every corner of the world.
I’m a firm believer that hard work builds knowledge and character. At 12 years old I started earning money mowing lawns, and as a baker’s assistant and dishwasher. We need to make sure anyone who wants a job and wants to work hard can find one. I care deeply about equity and opportunity for all.
For most of my adult life I’ve worked in the high-tech field. For decades I was employed by the Perkin Elmer Corp as a systems & networks engineer, and then at Applied Biosystems as a global services manager. In 2009 my division was sold, and I became a Program Manager at AB Sciex, a division of Danaher Corp. These jobs instilled in me the urgency of finding real world solutions to real world problems, in real time. Being a lifelong learner is important to me. In my life, I have continued my schooling and earned several technical and managerial certificates in addition to my college degree.
I kept learning throughout my life because I believe education is the key to moving up in America. I am committed to making sure we have the best education system in the world right here in San Jose. That’s why I ran for and won a seat on the Evergreen Elementary School Board. In my ten years of service on the school board, I have worked to improve student performance, provide student enrichment opportunities, supported high quality teaching and mental health support services, and have always considered the practical needs of students who were often coming from other countries and cultures. In order to better understand the needs of both teachers and our students, three years ago I acquired my emergency teaching credential and began teaching middle school Math and Science at a Title 1 school in the Alum Rock district. A truly eye-opening experience.