In my professional career in public, non-profit, and private settings, I am proud of the accomplishments which I have helped facilitate.
In working with various non-profits throughout the country, I have succeeded in:
- helping numerous organizations develop detailed long-range plans based on their stated institutional values and vision.
- Most recently I led a community organization in Fort Lauderdale in a process of visioning about what and how they wanted to be in 20 years, resulting in an action plan for short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. I then continued to work with them to ensure that the action plan would be implemented rather than just gather dust on a shelf somewhere. The result: the first change of leadership in 17 years, renewed financial resources, and increased participation.
- have been a regular consultant to a non-profit in Vero Beach in their development of volunteer leadership. I helped them redefine the task from filling vacancies to empowering talent. Helped them adopt a respect for the input of members of their community rather than ignoring their informed potential. This allowed the organization to transition to a longer-range planning process without annual times of panic in seeking leaders.
- in my many appointed roles in local government I have been the voice advocating for ethical responsibility
- as a member of the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee, protected the portion of property dedicated by the US Navy to the economic benefit of the Bahama Village area against encroachment by private interests
- as a member of the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board, successfully fought to ensure that the park being developed would not become just another commercial venture (Ferry terminal, many business ventures)
- As a member of the Truancy Team at Key West High School, I was a crusader for appropriate legal sanctions against students and families who did not live by attendance policies. Such non-attendance was disruptive to the academic activities of others and unduly required the attention of staff.
- as Vice-Chairman of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transportation Authority (Massachusetts), successfully negotiated the return of commuter rail service to a major area north of Boston, to provide an alternative to congested auto commuting and increased road construction
- in my volunteer roles in the community, I have sought to use my position in advocacy for those often without a public voice:
- served on the Neighborhood Accountability Board, which helped first-time, non-violent youth offenders to take responsibility for their actions. Through a program of education, service, apology, and commitment to personal responsibility, young people who successfully engaged in the program could have their records cleared.
- I serve on the Board of the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition for the Homeless because I believe that a comprehensive plan of support of individuals and families so they can move to sustainability in housing and other aspect of their lives is an imperative. I have been twice honored to be asked to give the major address at the annual Service of Remembrance for those homeless who have died on the streets of Monroe County.
- as President of the Interfaith Ministerial Alliance, I have successfully engaged diverse faith communities in the common work of healing our community and seeking a better life for all. In that role, I was one of the founders of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Annual Scholarship Prayer Breakfast which raises thousands of dollars each year to assist students moving on to college.
What I have done is, to me, less important than how I have accomplished these and other successes.
I am committed to a cooperative, collaborative process. While issues may have to come to a decision by vote I prefer to seek consensus by all parties involved. In learning to do this, I have been aided by various trainings and experiences. Some of these ones that inform me most often are:
- the National Coalition Building Institute, which taught me that as we seek out and act on points of connection and understanding we will have greater success at achieving our community goals than if we focus on differences and narrow points of view.
- Community-building work with Parker Palmer, Thomas Groome, Maria Harris, and others, which taught me the power of community in the building of any desired outcome. As we see the need work as “our” work, not just “their” work we become an empowered community more than an entitled community.
- Mentoring workshops, in which I learned the skills and roles of supportive leadership that seeks to empower individuals and groups to find and express their own identity.
In all that I have learned and all that I have done, I find that certain patterns of leadership have served me and others best. In chairing groups from small committees to large assemblies (500+) I live by certain values:
TRANSPARENCY – the use of information as a weapon (by withholding information, by selectively sharing information, by manipulation of others through information) can succeed in the short-term, but in the long-term leads to disruption and destruction, For me, to be transparent means that I share all information that I have as a leader with all stakeholders in a timely manner.
- As Mayor this would mean that as I become aware of information about any aspect of Key West government I would share it with the parties directly involved, AND the whole Commission, AND the general public.
- I would encourage all members of the Commission and staff to do the same. In practice this would mean we would cease to have information not shared until either demanded or at last minute in the course of action on a motion.
RESPECT – people serving in public office need to treat staff, other elected officials, and the public with respect. Common courtesy suggests that respect includes things as simple as a “thank you” to those making public comment at Commission meetings without regard for agreement or disagreement with the content of their comments.
- As Mayor, I would not engage in feuds with Commissioners, either in the meetings or elsewhere. That someone’s point of view or style is different from mine is not a reason for disrespect.
- I would respect the chain of command within our city staff. There is a hierarchy of responsibility which should be respected, and at the same time those responsible must be held accountable for their areas of responsibility. Failing to insist on accountability is another form of disrespect.
- I would work to help empower all the Commissioners in their work in their districts and the city as a whole
- I would chair the meetings of the Commission seeking the larger truth, the more inclusive understanding
- I would encourage the Commission to honor and respect the work and advice of the many advisory committees and board which its creates and appoints
- I would use Parliamentary Procedure as a useful tool, not a controlling weapon, to facilitate the work of the Commission, sharing that information with all Commissioners so they would be empowered to do the work of the community
- I would treat all speakers before the Commission equally — no one is entitled to more time or input than any other citizen simple because of their position, reputation, or presumed status.
What helped prepare me for the role of Mayor of the City of Key West:
- B.A., in Physics and Sociology, Brandeis University
- D. Min,, Meadville/Lombard Theological School
- Ph.D. (abd), New York University
- 47 years of continuous professional service in Ministry
- successfully aided a congregation with 3-5 years (1975) of resources to restructure for sustainability; still a vital congregation today!
- 15 years as Professional Consultant at an Area Council Level
- developed innovative program initiatives now implemented on national basis
- led a congregation in the building of its first building, increase of its land and acquisition of it program space, and doubling in size of membership
- physics research, Eastman Kodak, Rochester, NY
- Engineer, New York Central/Penn Central railroads
- 47 years of continuous professional service in Ministry
- Many process-based trainings in community building, supervision, goal-setting, coalition building, parliamentary procedure, mentorship
- Married to Elissa Bishop-Becker, MEd, NCC, a professional counselor
- Four daughters (raising my daughters, all of whom were teenagers at the same time, taught me much about diplomacy, leadership, and consensus!)
- four grandchildren
- 45 year cancer survivor
- lover of music, walking, trains, cooking, and Key West