James’ family moved to Anchorage in the early 1980s when his father was stationed at Fort Richardson. As a child, he attended elementary schools on base, Wonder Park and Nunaka Valley Elementary. James participated in youth sports such as football and wrestling and graduated from East High in 1996.
Shortly after moving out of state he settled in Portland, Oregon. It was there he earned an Associates Degree in General Studies at Portland Community College and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Portland State University. James met his wife Rosa while taking classes at a local college and they married in 2007. Just as James and Rosa were starting their family in Oregon, the Great Recession hit which led James to return with his family to Anchorage.
Both James and his wife successfully started their businesses in the East Anchorage community. In 2013, James began an insurance firm called Benefit MI in the Northway Mall, and his wife Rosa started a licensed in-home childcare facility. James takes great pride in providing exemplary service to all clients without being partial or biased regarding race or financial abilities.
As a parent, James is highly involved in his children’s education. His eldest step-daughter Brittny attended Clark, Romig and East High. His eldest son attends Northern Lights ABC, and his youngest son has grown up in Mrs. Smallwood’s preschool. James volunteers regularly for school activities and models his family practices, in the same manner, he believes every child needs to succeed in their education. James believes that children have a higher chance of succeeding when they have the full support of their families, educators, and mentors in the community.
James experienced first-hand what it was like for students in school and at home as a youth Pastor, where he worked with youth from across the socioeconomic spectrum. This experience gave him the ability to identify different factors which contribute to many problems children endure while growing up. He has built long-lasting relationships, mentored youth across the board, and became a positive role model that kids continue to reach out to for advice. He taught his students how to give back by implementing a “Back to School Drive” in 2012 and 2013.
James and his wife have also participated in community service by becoming placing parents for Beacon Hill, Safe Families. Safe Families is a non-profit organization that provides short-term “Safe Homes” for children whose parents are in transition or need a safe place for their children to go while undergoing treatment or surgery. So far, they have helped several children over a span of two years.
James has also been thankful he has had the opportunity to serve middle and high-school students in the classroom. He has spent valuable time in ASD’s classes as a substitute teacher and has experienced a variety of different teaching methods and approaches toward learning. James’ experience working with students in the classroom has given him valuable experience with what both students and teachers need to succeed in our schools.
James is highly involved in The Russian Jack Community Council. He is sent to represent the council on the Federation of Community Councils and meet with top officials from organizations to talk about the severe issues regarding education. He strives to find progressive teaching methods that can have a positive impact on the learning experience students have in our schools and keep our kids engaged in the education process.
Now James wants to give back. James has the experience, dedication, and respect for our school system to make him an excellent school board member. We kindly ask you to take the time to hear his ideas and vote for James to be on our school board on April 2.