I’m an immigration lawyer who lives in Portland, Oregon with my wife and three kids. I’m the founding attorney of Passage Immigration Law and the Executive Director of Immigrant Assist, a non-profit organization that connects citizenship coaches with aspiring U.S. citizens. I’m active in my church and love to travel. I am a huge fan of electric cars, C.S. Lewis, Cloud Cult music, and Bear Grylls.
I grew up in northern California and discovered later as an adult that I had a pretty ideal childhood. Not only did my two sisters, brother and I have stable, loving parents, we grew up on three acres of land in the beautiful foothills of Cupertino. My parents never earned a lot of money but they made a savvy real estate choice in choosing where to build a house and raise their kids.
My siblings and I were surrounded by lots of animals (chickens, horses, dogs, cats, and a goat) and the beauty of the natural world right outside our house. The pleasant northern Californian climate enticed us to spend a huge amount of time outside. We would walk, run, and bike in the protected parkland next to our home.
A pivotal event for me was traveling to Japan for a month as a 14 year old exchange student. This experience opened the door to seeing the vast world that exists outside the U.S. Living with a host family in Japan showed me that while lifestyles and culture can be dramatically different, fundamentally people are all the same. We have the same desires, aspirations, sense of humor, and foundational goodness across the planet. In short we are all made in the image of God and want good things for ourselves, our communities, and our kids.
I went off to UCLA to study international political science. My favorite classes were on Health Problems in Third World Countries and Understanding Urban Poverty. One of my regrets was not choosing to study abroad as an undergrad and I will certainly encourage my kids to do this.
Another formative experience was traveling to Albania the summer of 1995, right after I graduated from college. We went to assist a pastor from our church who was planting a church and writing a book about life in Albania. We interviewed a number of Albanians of various ages about life under communism. Their stories were harrowing and opened my eyes to how brutal life truly is without human rights, freedom, or hope.
I went to law school at the University of California, Davis and again gravitated towards international issues (and was one of the editors of the Journal of International Law and Policy). Upon graduating in 1999 I made what I believe to be the second-best decision in my life, and it was one that was truly in the spirit of Growth, Impact, and Adventure.
Instead of immediately trying to find a lucrative job as a lawyer in the U.S., I applied instead to be a visiting lecturer at the Budapest College of Foreign Trade in Hungary. This job and others were organized by a great church-based non-profit organization that places qualified teachers across the globe in colleges, universities, and high schools.
During this year in Hungary, my own personal growth went into overdrive. I highly recommend anyone who has the chance to spend a year living, working, and serving overseas to do so. Your world will be expanded and you’ll discover a richness to life that will never leave you. I also experienced the challenges of the immigration process in another country which provides helpful context to this day as an immigration lawyer.
The most exciting development during my time in Budapest was meeting and falling in love with a young woman named Agi. After a lot of soul searching and probably too much analysis, the two of us decided the complexities of an international marriage were definitely worth it once you had found your soulmate. It was simply not an option to not be together. Deciding to get married to Agi was the number one best decision of my life. It turns out that international marriages are not as difficult as you might think initially.
My wife and I decided to move to Portland, Oregon after visiting my sister and experiencing firsthand the wonderful, wacky, artisanal, beautiful, and balanced culture here. People love to hike in the woods, read books, drink coffee, and scheme up their next travel plans with their friends. We fit right in.
Looking at the months and years ahead, my top goals are: to do the best possible job as a parent, serve others through my work, non-profit, and church, and enthusiastically pursue growth, impact and adventure.