My story, like many others, is a journey made up of experiences across countries, public service, private business, and philanthropy. I have experienced financial hardship, war, and death – and while incredibly challenging – each has forced me to persevere and follow my passion.
I came from humble beginnings and learned early on the value of hard work and independence. I managed multiple jobs throughout high school and college. During summer breaks, I worked double shifts – construction during the day and as a part-time police officer during the evening. There were many nights where I slept in my car at the construction site for a few hours before beginning my shifts again.
I was profoundly affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and commissioned in the US Army in 2006. After a fifteen-month deployment to Iraq I had the most challenging mission of my military career – the massive relief expedition to Haiti. Here I experienced first-hand the devastation to human life caused by the January 12, 2010 earthquake that left over 200,000 people dead in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Shortly after returning from Haiti, the economy was struggling after the Great Recession and I found myself looking for work during one of the most challenging job markets in decades. After sending hundreds of emails to prospective employers, I was finally hired at the bank BNP Paribas. This was my first private sector job and I knew nothing about finance, but my colleagues helped me significantly. In 2012, I was recruited by senior Goldman Sachs partners to help create a new business where I spent the next six years.
I was in NYC – thousands of miles away from Iraq and Haiti – but distance could not detach me from the life changing experiences of the Army. During my military career I knew several people who had committed suicide and I wanted to create a sustainable solution to stop this growing epidemic. Everybody said it was an impossible task, but with two of my best friends – both Army officers from Johns Hopkins – we founded Stop Soldier Suicide (SSS) in 2010. Our team is executing an ambitious mission to reduce the veteran suicide rate to the national average by 2030.
I applied my experience from SSS to civilian mental health, where the current system is fragmented and inefficient, leading to less effective care. The transformation of mental health requires fewer administrative obstacles allowing clinicians to focus primarily on patient care to achieve better outcomes. With this objective in mind, I set off to create Rappore.
An early investor in Rappore urged me to meet one of his colleagues, a psychiatrist named Dr. Fred Kass, who he dubbed the ‘Maverick of Mental Health.’ Over the next few months we started to build the business and Fred went from being an advisor, to a co-founder, and trusted confidant. His wife of 50 years, Betty Jeanne, joined our effort.
We built Rappore leveraging our common values, passion, and experience. Together, we prioritize patients and empower clinicians helping to shape the future of mental healthcare. The Apollo Moon Lander represents our ambitious vision and how teamwork can make the impossible happen.