BIOGRAPHY: 'Perspective is learned through experiences'
Steve was born in 1965 - ironically, the same year that Burlington City Hall first opened.
He has lived in Kitchener-Waterloo, Mississauga, London and Vancouver, before moving to Burlington 26 years ago to start and raise a family with his wife, a Joseph Brant Hospital employee.
His business and entrepreneurial passion began while attending the University of Waterloo, where he was president of the Entrepreneurs Club and organized student business conferences and events. He also ran a successful summer painting franchise, won awards and was quickly promoted, and was the youngest in a senior management role due to his ambition. He believes entrepreneurship can be a successful 'career' choice that some youth could consider. The long-term benefits to society, by developing leaders of the future, at an early age, is a key lesson his early experiences have taught him and it is why he wants to help youth find passion and purpose early in life.
Steve has had a variety of experiences, including in sales, marketing, consulting, social innovation and non-profit management; as well as investing in or joining start-up's. Some worked, some didn't and they all offered lessons along the way. After working in sales in the telecom industry (Motorola), as well as in the pharmaceutical and medical industry, he ventured into his business consulting career. Steven single-handedly led the acquisition and then managed the merger of four small internet companies for a pre IPO venture and began supporting other start-ups.
Steve also helped launch nonprofits and associations and single-handedly raised funding from many of the largest tech and telecom companies in Canada and Silicon Valley.
He is an early adopter of e-learning. He started up an e-learning company, offering software training over the internet , which included offering software training to hundreds of unemployed individuals to upgrade their computer skills, years before e-learning became mainstream. He understands how today's online learning efforts is failing, but believes hybrid learning is the future - with some innovative tweeks.
In his management consulting roles over the last 10 years, Steven has worked for a number of businesses, which included Cleantech (wind turbine start-up & IPO), carbon management and more. Seeking new clean energy innovations is one of his passions. "Energy matters."
As a community leader, he has held Board positions and taken on a number of initiatives. As Board member and VP of Burlington's BitNet Tech Association, he promoted and chaired the BitNet Job Fair to help companies recruit talent to drive their business plans.
Steve is a sustainable mobility advocate and electric vehicle advocate. He has been a consultant to help groups like PlugN'Drive help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicle purchases in Ontario. He is an EV owner and his second car is his bike!
Steve believes in giving back. As a micro-philanthropist, he has donated much of his time and funds to causes he believes in. One of his pet projects was starting a parent-led non-profit organization called Dad's Against Dirty Air (DADA), which focuses on children's health, climate and clean air initiatives, helping 100's of schools run "Be Idle-free for the kids" programs. Steve also advised and helped other community groups who wanted to reduce emissions while protecting the health and safety of children.
Other community leadership roles include supporting local environmental groups. Steve was involved in the formation of the BurlingtonGreen Environmental Association and the Burlington Green youth group, and one of the founding board members.
In his spare time, he also organized environmental events locally and across Ontario and assisted many school eco clubs, youth groups, non-profits and social innovation projects in the GTA. He sees the opportunity that the office of a supportive Mayor can have to leverage the platform to bring a voice and attract resources to assist such groups.
As a social innovator, he also started and was leader of the 'Halton Social Innovation Centre' project, which aimed to support local non-profit’s with shared office space and resources, modeling the Centre for Social Innovation, Toronto. He believes social innovators are the champions of positive societal change and many create viable non-profit entities that support cities and citizens. He urges citizens to support them and wants to use the Mayoral platform to help form collective conscious approaches to social issues.
Serving the community and helping people and the planet has been Steve’s mission and purpose.
Part of his initial motivation to put his name in as a nomination, was mainly to help have a platform to 'wake-up' those in the system to at least 'try' to listen to how things can be made better. He is one of 1000's of citizens, nonprofit leaders, climate advocates and youth, who all want Government to just "Do the Right Thing!" and put climate first in all decisions. "We are quickly reaching a 'tipping point' or 'terminal cancer of the planet' and moving way too slow."
We all say we want change and want someone who can bring fresh perspectives and ideas and is not another politician, budget or policy person. Steve is offering perspective as a non-profit leader, businessman, climate, mental and children's health advocate.
He sees most business problems as 'opportunities' and wants to apply this to the government. The joke is 'if problems are seen as opportunities, then we have a lot of opportunities'. ;)
He believes we are delaying action and that bureaucracy is one of the main reasons we are not solving climate issues fast enough. When the pacecar is moving slow, the group moves slow too. Climate entrepreneurs who move fast, tend to be the most frustrated at the pace of change and red tape.
Steve has delegated to City Hall over the past 20 years to get City Hall to stop idling and follow their own 1 minute idling bylaws. This is his personal example to prove his point. We need all levels of government to engage with a brand new climate commitment and Climate Emergency Declaration version 2.0 - tagline: 'We mean it this time!' with an aim to challenge all cities to do more.
He believes we need to focus more of our attention on the future we want while also managing the problems we face currently. Day-to-day management needs done but the 'future leaders now' program will drive vision-based projects as well. It involves recruiting young, ambitious and talented staff who can be mentored, trained and developed into leaders who will move our cities into the future. Steve wants to encourage young and middle-aged people to run for office, even in their 20's. They understand tech, have the energy and a vested interest in the future with staying power to continue to lead.
Climate, mental health, jobs, the economy, food security, healthy aging, air quality and 100's of other issues are real and need proactive and preventative measures to minimize the risk (or spread the risk) in a manageable manner. All levels of government, agencies, community groups, business and nonprofits and citizens need to pool strengths and resources when needed, for the common good.
After talking to community group leaders, business leaders, developers, staff and citizens, he hears that a lack of 'vision' or leadership is the #1 missing piece. We need less meetings, reports and reactive decisions. We instead need to focus on the 'big picture' vision of what kind of city we want to build.
He has been inspired by some city staff who really want to make a positive impact, and who just want to be given a chance to shine. Apathy or 'giving up' is not an option. We need to find and support all staff who want to make a difference and give them the tools and resources to make it happen We need to 'unshakle' them from slow paced and bureaucratic barriers and empower them to leverage the governmental resources to do good.
He has heard the voices of citizens, climate advocates and even youth who are just plain tired of COVID, climate inaction, politics and negative 'noise'. He, like most of us, just want to see a council that is proactive, efficient, willing to try new things and able to admit what is working and not working and work together to leverage both. Let's just help make things better.
After countless interactions with Cities, 100's of public servants and politicians over 10+ years, he, like many of us, feels the 'system', not their people, is the primary roadblock to solving many of today's and tomorrow's issues. Change is not easy, but Steve believes we can and must do better.
Win or lose, he pledges to support all climate-friendly councillors and Mayor's in the GTA and will challenge them to start with small climate actions/initiatives for 'easy wins' and bigger projects later. He is donating much of his time and effort to help other climate initiatives as he pledges to dedicate his career to this important cause.