Shawn was raised in Calvert County in a home surrounded by farmland with parents who met while they were teachers in Prince George’s County. He grew up in church together with his wife Rachel who was raised on a retired horse farm in Lothian. Her family owns a small business and her mother is a retired teacher. It was the example of their parents – working hard while serving the community – that taught Shawn that life is about more than just surviving. It’s also about lifting up those around us, by putting people first.
After graduating college with a degree in Intercultural Studies, Shawn and Rachel were married and moved to Annapolis during the height of the recession. While Rachel worked at Anne Arundel Medical Center as a nurse, Shawn began waiting tables and eventually decided to go back to school where he earned his Masters of Theological Studies and began working at a small Church in Annapolis as the children’s and youth pastor. During his time at the church Shawn had the opportunity to lead hundreds of volunteers, youth and kids in ways that put the people of the city of Annapolis first.
While continuing to serve at the church Shawn came off staff and worked with the family land surveying business for a couple of years, then began working at Key School – a private pre-k through 12 school – in Annapolis as a Systems Administrator where he has been employed for the last five years. Shawn has also rejoined the church staff on a part-time basis as the children’s and youth pastor. In addition to his professional career, Shawn has a strong background in volunteering in the community and its surrounding areas.
Shawn views every issue through the lens of putting people first. If there is a person who is missing out or who is hurt by a policy then it needs to be rethought. If the government isn’t putting people first, then something is broken.
This mindset was formed through two primary experiences. First the lessons learned from his mom. Shawn’s mother had a servant’s heart. Everything she did was to lift up those around her. She spent her life trying to create learning experiences for everyone she came into contact with. The most valuable lesson she taught was to reflect and improve on everything we do for others. Always look for ways to help, always leave it better than you found it and always make a list for how to do it better next time.
The second experience was a near-death experience in Thailand. In 2007 on a semester abroad, Shawn fell off of an approximately twenty foot high cliff and landed face first onto rock. It was determined that Shawn had a bleed on the brain and needed to have brain surgery to relieve the pressure. After surgery Shawn remained in a coma for almost three weeks. Fortunately Shawn did not suffer any long term consequences from the accident, but he did receive a new perspective on life. Which was that the most valuable thing in life is the relationships that we will or will not be remembered for. We have so much to learn from each other and so many ways to work together; but to do that we have to value people above all else. Every day since he woke up from coma Shawn has made it a priority to put people first.
Shawn and his wife Rachel own a house in Edgewater where they raise their six year old daughter and four year old son. They ultimately decided to settle in Edgewater because they wanted to be closer to the friends and family they grew up with and hold dear. They love their community, living close to the water and long walks with the kids.