A: I’m originally from New Orleans, which is where my father is from. Our family business, Schott & Company Meats, was firmly established in New Orleans for over a century, beginning in 1879. My mother’s family is from Nicaragua, which they fled during political unrest in the late 1960s and came to New Orleans, and where she would eventually meet my dad. I’m your typical child of the late 1970s and 1980s- not too different from the upbringing displayed by Netflix’s “Stranger Things” kids. My days were spent riding bikes, playing Atari, watching MTV and visiting our local record store on a weekly basis to get the latest new release… and that I would proudly play on my double tape deck boom box.
Q: What is your current job, and what else are you involved with in the area?
A: For my day job, I’m CenturyLink’s director of internal communications, which involves serving as the front lines of communications for nearly 50,000 employees. My other job is dad and husband. My wife and I have two rambunctious boys, aged 10 and 12, so the majority of my free time in the area is spent doing activities with them, which includes baseball, soccer, boy scouts, bike riding, foosball, and hanging out on the bayou when we can.
Q: What made you decide to pursue a career in communications?
A: It certainly wasn’t planned. I was initially going the law school route while an undergrad at LSU, but after working at a few law firms, I felt a different career path should be explored. Long story, short… I wound up graduating in political science and moving to California to get a Masters degree in film and media studies. Having always enjoyed experimenting with new technology, it was during this time that I was self-taught in web design and coding and became involved in digital communications in the early days of the internet. I parlayed that into a career that has seen me serve in a series of roles from media relations, public relations, business development, public policy, digital media, employee communications and executive communications.
Q: I know you have only been living in Ouachita Parish for a couple years; how is your life different compared to living in New Orleans?
A: It’s obviously a lot smaller that any city we had ever live and, though my wife and I lived in California for a few years, it was first time we’ve moved with kids. We also knew no one. However, within the first three days, we made great friends who helped ensure that we acclimated to the area quickly. This is a very family-oriented area, and my kids love it. It has been a great experience.
Q: So far, what is your favorite thing about Northeast Louisiana?
A: The people here are awesome. Small town life suits us well! When it comes to raising two children, I have to say that there is a unique sense of family and safety that allows them to grow up in a way that isn’t an option in most larger cities. We love the neighborhood we are in, and it’s great not to have to deal with traffic every morning. It’s really the small things you don’t realize you’re missing out on until you leave a big city.
Q: What special asset do you believe you bring to the table on the Board of Directors?
A: With a PR/communications and digital-focused background, I think I can help provide guidance on creating greater awareness around the Arts Council and as it builds a larger digital presence in the new media landscape. The board is really committed to growing the Council’s membership and the ideas that are being shared are very exciting for the area. I believe having a communications background will help us bring those ideas and projects to life.
Q: What are some things most people do not know you are passionate about?
A: Outside of my family and work, my biggest passion is music. I’ve always loved music, but it wasn’t until 5 years ago that I actually decided to play music and picked up a guitar. It was a game-changer for me as it helps me relax and is so therapeutic. While it’s a great creative outlet and it keeps my mind sharp, it’s not something anyone would pay to hear so I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon. By the time my kids go to college, I figure I will be good enough to play in a band so I can embarrass them covering “Free Bird” in the bars around their school. Kidding, of course.
Q: What are you most looking forward as the Arts Council’s new Administrative Vice Chair?
A: I see a tremendous opportunity for the Arts Council and the board is really engaged in making a positive difference for Northeast region. I am looking forward to keeping the momentum going. I have seen the Council do so much in the past couple years and I want to make sure that creative and energy only increases.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I did not cover?
Favorite Book – Catcher in the Rye (I named my son Holden)
Favorite Movie – If you ask me today, “There Will Be Blood”… if you ask me tomorrow, “Dr. Strangelove”
Favorite Band – Pink Floyd