Why Sunset Sky Creative?
The world is filled with countless impressive graphic designers, marketing agencies and development firms — so why add more to the mix? My goal with Sunset Sky Creative is to bring a breadth of multidisciplinary experience that is a rare find with other professionals. Having a creative eye is the first step, but combining that with a rich business acumen can certainly make your project reach greater potential. Throw in superb organization and communication skills, intricate technical understanding, a deep understanding of numerous industries, a world-class portfolio and a pricing model designed to work around your budget… it all adds up to a superior value!
Have a minute? Here’s what you should know about me if we’re going to work together!
I’m dedicated. Creative. Passionate. When I get excited about a project, particularly one that’s bold and innovative, my work ethic demands I’ll give 1000%.
I’m not afraid of big ideas. On the contrary, I think about them all the time. Then I make them happen.
I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished in my career, and much of what is depicted on this site reflects that. I aspire to continue getting involved in projects that make a lasting difference.
I grew up an only child in a single parent home; my best friends were books, blocks and RPG video games. It took a while to break out of my shell, but I’m an extroverted INTJ introvert at heart, and a great listener.
Growing up with Star Trek cultivated my love for technology. Growing up with Star Trek also forged my world view that we’re all diverse, unique and part of a global community despite our differences.
Finally I’m an out-and-proud gay man, happily married to my husband, making our home in Orlando. Volunteerism, the fight for equality and advocacy are what keep me going.
- Info Tech. undergrad, MBA from RIT in Rochester, NY
- 11 years at WDD – We Do Digital; web + app design/development + digital marketing focusing on amusement parks & attractions
- 4 years at accesso; UI/UX + e-commerce solutions
- 13 years of combined volunteer and leadership experience: Come Out With Pride Orlando, Gay Games 9, REPORTER magazine
You don’t have to go any further. Really! But if you have some time and really want to get to know me better, here are some of the more personal life experiences that made me who I am today. (Which by the way, if we’re going to be working together I hope to get to know you better as well!)
Born December 8 (I’m a Sagittarius!) and raised on the East Side of Buffalo, NY by a single mom with a big heart. We may have lived off food stamps for a while, but everything in life from then on was earned through hard work.
Ride, Baby, Ride
Not even two years old, I had my very first amusement park adventure with a trip to Darien Lake. The setting for many summer excursions in the years that followed, I think this may have kickstarted my love for rides and coasters. (Even if I’d refuse to go upside down until high school!)
Pack Your Bookbags
A kid born in December would usually mean missing the cut-off point for classes, but I started pre-K early and would always remain the youngest in my grade.
Leggo my LEGOs
Ok, it may have been DUPLO at the beginning, but once I opened that first LEGO box it changed my life. The sets themselves were great but I much preferred putting my imagination to work — I credit much of my creativity to these tiny little bricks.
Probably the worst memory from my childhood, but coming home to find our apartment was broken into and robbed was heartbreaking. With the neighborhood becoming less safe, a move to the nearby suburb of Cheektowaga (polish food and pink flamingos!) soon followed.
10 years of a Catholic elementary school education would come to an end, but the next four years as a Cheektowaga Central HS Warrior expanded my horizons. The scenery and classroom sizes changed considerably, but my nerdy bookworm personality would not.
It happened so fast. One day she was fine, then on October 31 while out shopping my grandmother had a stroke and fell in a parking lot. Three days later she was gone. While my grandfather would pass a few years later after a long bout with depression, this was a shock — especially for someone who had a very small family to begin with (“Dad” was long gone). I always kinda hated Halloween after this.
A Close Second
Years of extra credit projects, AP classes, honor society meetings and SAT exams finally culminated in graduation from high school. I think I may even have my salutatorian speech somewhere.
The Freshman 15
I applied to and got in to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT — go Tigers!) knowing it was a very reputable college; being far away enough from home but close enough to bring back laundry was icing on the cake. But what started as a beginning in computer science quickly shifted to a much broader and enjoyable Information Technology program. Turns out I just wasn’t cut out to only write code 8 hours every day…
Making the Leap
Towards the end of my freshman year, I joined a college outdoor club on a tandem skydiving excursion. It was something I always wanted to do, and shocked pretty much anyone who knew me! But it lit a fire, and with over 1,000 jumps since my life has certainly been full of adventure and amazing friends I’ve met across the sky.
Hail to the Chief
Helping start my high school newspaper naturally led me to RIT’s student-run weekly magazine, the REPORTER. What began as a writing position turned into an editor role, then managing editor, and finally Editor-in-Chief. I loved having the opportunity to transform the publication, both making it full color and ushering it into the online world. In return I gained real-world journalism and design skills, plus the experience of how to lead a team.
Behold the Millennium
A had seen commercials for years. Ordered and pored over the Family Getaway Guides. But the addition of the 300′-tall Millennium Force roller coaster sealed the deal — this would be the year I finally set foot at Cedar Point!
The World Changed.
Everyone alive then recalls where they were on 9/11. I was in a college campus basement proofing that week’s magazine issue when news slowly spread — but few websites were loading. Then calls came in, word got around, and while walking to class a tower fell; the other while I was in a lab. Leading REPORTER over the next few weeks and making sure we were a voice for the students was a challenge that changed me forever.
Open for Business
Thinking about grad school, I pursued two options. First, a career doing visual effects for film, but the student aid wasn’t there. Instead, a grad assistantship at RIT helped cover the expense of getting my MBA. As it turns out, learning core business principles as well as focusing on marketing skills would be invaluable.
After graduation, I finally landed a job with WDD (Website Design & Development, then later We Do Digital). Based in a town called Wadsworth, it was finally time to leave my home state of NY and make my way in the ol’ Plymouth Horizon towards Northeast Ohio. With Cedar Point and other Cedar Fair parks being main clients, the projects were always fun and diverse. And with a team size never higher than a dozen, one always wore plenty of hats to get the work done.
It should be clear by now I love amusement parks, but one thing I never had a chance to do was work at one. Through my contacts at Cedar Point I was able to work an October weekend as a ride host on Wicked Twister. I had so much fun when they asked if I could come back a second weekend, I said of course! I was outdoors, away from computer screens and interacting with people — it didn’t feel like work at all. Three more years of weekend ride op gigs at Top Thrill Dragster and others eventually led to four fun years of weekends escorting VIP tour guests around the park.
Out and Proud
Looking back I suppose I had known for a long time, but being a single child from a (quasi-)religious family that constantly commented “I can’t wait until you have kids” forced some realizations into hiding. After finally having conversations with people who knew how to ask the right questions, this was the year I could finally admit to family and friends — “I’m gay.” And the biggest weight I had ever put on my shoulders was lifted.
I may not be the best verbal storyteller, but if there’s one dramatic tale worth sharing it’s how my friend Rebekah and I had to be rescued off a mountain just outside of Seattle. Ask me about it sometime!
What Happens In Vegas…
By this point I had attended a few expos for IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions), mainly in Orlando. This year it moved to Vegas, and would also coincide with my very first educational/public speaking opportunity. Taking my experience ushering Cedar Fair parks in as the first real leaders within the mobile arena, I explained the differences between desktop and mobile experiences and advocated for forward-thinking technologies such as mobile apps and personalized visits. Oh, and I partied… Vegas is not the ideal place to have a busy work conference!
Are We Going to Do This?
A couple failed relationships notwithstanding, my life changed one day in late March when I met this guy David on an online dating site; the profile pic of him and his german shepherd Goliath sealed the deal. A night of discussion (and un unforgettable quote, at least from my perspective) led to a dinner date, more get-togethers and even my rabbit Lola falling for him too — I finally found a true and stable partnership rooted in love.
Almost a year into our relationship, over the winter David introduced me to skiing. Hard to believe I grew up in western NY and never went! (Whereas he was born with skis on.) I introduced him to skydiving a few months prior so only fair. After some rough starts learning, towards the end of the season I finally felt like I got the hang of it — right before my skis crossed and down I went, spectacularly breaking my tib-fib and leaving me with scars and a titanium rod in my leg. On the plus side that accelerated me moving in!
Let the Games Begin
I had been involved with volunteer efforts in school but stopped once I moved to Ohio. Feeling disconnected with the community, I saw on FB a request for creative individuals to help execute plans for Gay Games 9 coming to Cleveland + Akron in two and a half years. I always loathed groups in college where I carried most of the weight so I said I’ll just check it out; there was so much professionalism and enthusiasm at my first meeting, I knew I found a team I wanted to be a part of.
Make It So — Engage!
David and I fell in love with traveling and cruises but had never left the North American continent. Time to change that with a trek across New Zealand followed by sailing to Australia! One of the most amazing trips ever, but what made it truly memorable was a wedding proposal on a remote island in the Great Barrier Reef. I won’t spoil who asked who… but he said yes!
I’m not a big competitive sports fan, and I was certainly never good at them. So when others on the Gay Games committee asked what event I was participating in, I simply laughed! But they were persistent, and with help from a trainer I worked my way up from being barely able to go a mile to running my first full marathon for the Games. After hearing participants saying our event eclipsed previous hosts’ like NYC, San Francisco and Sydney, it was no doubt an incredible finish to an amazing week.
We wanted a beach wedding, and as big fans we also wanted a Disney wedding. Thinking back to our first theme park visit together, the choice was unusual but obvious — we would tie the knot on the sandy wave pool shore of Typhoon Lagoon. Morning January storms cleared up for a picture perfect afternoon ceremony followed by an EPIC EPCOT reception in the Living Seas pavilion… we even had a special guest pop by. Plus our guests all enjoyed their personalized LEGO mini figures!
The City Beautiful
“The North” had a good run. But after two years of miserable wintry storms (even our half-huskies hated going outside), David and I finally followed through on an idea we had for years — let’s move to the Sunshine State! Orlando was always a favorite vacation destination or conference spot, and with a good group of friends there already it made the move easy… as easy as it could be to move two dogs and two cats 1,000 miles away.
Now That’s the Ticket
With a change in scenery also came a change in careers. Sticking with the attractions industry, I joined accesso as a senior UI/UX designer, focusing on the guest journey through our world-leading e-commerce and virtual queuing solutions. Furthering my passion for the industry, I began serving for three years on the IAAPA Finance & Technology Committee — pushing for education and innovation all across the world.
The Pulse of Orlando
Years and years before, Pulse was the very first gay bar I visited in Orlando. Now, 49 shot and killed, hundreds of others wounded. You just couldn’t believe the news. I may not have known anyone there, but what happened brought all of us closer — we were a united community. Shortly after, leaders from across Central Florida organizations and nonprofits gathered in a room to figure out ways to heal Orlando; a group that would soon grow into the One Orlando Alliance. Together we would get through it. And despite only having lived here for 11 months, it meant that Orlando truly was home.
Living in a cozy high-rise apartment above Lake Eola had its benefits, but it lacked extra space for guests and a yard for the dogs to run around in. After debating on endless options, we got the keys to a great home in East Orlando, only 15 minutes from Downtown. After growing up in countless apartments, duplexes and townhomes my entire life, this would be the first time I could call a real house my own.
Pride in My Work
What began as a way to continue working with the LGBTQ+ community when I moved to Florida, volunteering with Orlando’s Come Out With Pride parade and festival has been an incredible journey. From doing basic design in 2015 to joining the board and handling press and other messaging in the wake of Pulse, the work is challenging yet immensely rewarding — especially seeing joyful attendees who can truly be their authentic selves. This year I took charge as Board President, pledging to continue growth and continue increasing our partnerships. The biggest goal: put together a successful bid to bring WorldPride to Orlando in 2026, 10 years after Pulse to thank the world for their support and keep the momentum going.
Life is Grand
There’s lots of mistakes. Some days sound far worse than others. But from an early age (and then just three years of lessons) and especially over the last two decades, playing the piano always brought me enjoyment and helped me destress. Had a hand-me-down organ and then a few keyboards afterwards, but it wasn’t until I saw a great deal at a charity sale that I finally was able to bring home my very own baby grand. Looks AND sounds gorgeous in the living room!
While the year hasn’t been off to a great start — layoffs and COVID-19 certainly having a personal impact — the darkness will no doubt make way for a new day full of new beginnings. Within this struggle also lies opportunities to learn new skills, branch out into new directions and start building a different future. The sun will rise again, let’s see what we can do!
40 Under 40
With just a few short weeks before I hit the milestone, the Orlando Business Journal named me one of their “40 Under 40” individuals for 2020. I was very proud to be included amongst so many other notable leaders, especially during a year when strong leadership was more necessary than ever.