Where do you live?
We live in the Grove.
How long have you lived in the area?
We’ve lived in the Grove since May. And before that, we were in the Gables. We’ve been in Miami, for about five years.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to town?
Originally Chicago. We moved from DC. In DC, I worked for President Obama’s Administration. We moved down here to go back into the private sector.
What was your role?
I was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Secretary of Education.
How did you get involved with the Obama team?
We were living in Chicago, my wife and I were dating at the time and I started something in early 2007, called Generation Obama to encourage 20, 30 and 40 year-olds to get involved in the campaign. Following the election, I joined the administration and we moved to Washington. That’s where we had our kids, Lila and Grant.
What are you doing now in the private sector?
Now, I am a partner in a consulting and venture capital firm called Tusk Ventures. We work with startups that have significant regulatory and political challenges and we run campaigns to assist them. We also invest in the companies to help continue their growth.
Do you have an example of one of those companies?
One of our companies is called Lemonade, which is an insurance company powered by artificial intelligence. They are flipping the typical insurance model – as there is no broker. What they do, which is really cool, is they cap the amount of money that they make on your premium. If there is anything left over – after any claims, they donate the remainder to a charity of your choice. By selecting a charity that is important to you, your behavior is aligned with your intention, so you’re much less likely to claim something that really didn’t happen.
Another is Bird, the scooter company. We navigate city and state politics to provide an affordable alternative to car transportation.
What types of things do you do to help them?
We were helpful in getting them licensed in states around the country. Our team has the trifecta of former government people, business experts and lawyers. Many times, for us, it’s helping create new laws. Our thesis is that you should let great ideas thrive and we help to modernize laws and regulations.
How did your business get started?
My partner was the first political consultant for a small fledgling transportation company that was trying to move into New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and DC. That company was called Uber. He created the blueprint and map to help them expand all over the country. Before that, he ran Michael Bloomberg’s campaign.
Do you enjoy it?
It’s very fun and very challenging and never the same. It’s finding something that you really love and working with really, really great people. And then the cherry on the top is being able to live in Miami.
How often do you come to the market?
We come as often as we can. I’d say, at least twice a month.
Do you have a market ritual?
It’s always the same, although we’ve been trying to bike there lately. Usually we get there early in the morning. We’re super early risers with two kids. We get in and get something from Zak and then they’ll go right to you guys and get the rainbow smoothie – without hesitation. And then we walk around and buy stuff we know we’ll need.
What’s your favorite thing to buy at LNB Grovestand?
Rainbow Smoothies. And, your star fruit is always a big hit by the way. That never makes it home and is often even eaten in the car. That’s the fun of living here.
What do you get at other stands?
Produce from Bee Heaven. Occasionally we’ll cheat on you, and we won’t just get smoothies, we’ll get a fresh squeezed orange juice.
What do you think our market is missing?
I just hate to see people selling produce when I know there is no way it’s local. I’d love it if there was some way to make sure that if you’re at the market, your providing local produce. I am one of the people who love you guys and my hand is raised to help.
During the Obama Administration, I was part of the team that created the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative, which helped encourage healthy eating and exercise for school aged children. One of the big things we worked on was not just gardens in schools but using sustainable and local produce in cafeterias. One – it’s better tasting and healthier, and two – it’s often a more affordable option.
Do you have a favorite market story?
We first started talking to you guys after realizing that Adena’s grandmother was Lois Weisberg. She was an icon in Chicago, whom I revered. Deb and I got married in Chicago in a building called the Chicago Cultural Center. She’s the person who had the vision to make that building extraordinary again. She was a giant, a real force around bringing people together and celebrating the uniqueness of Chicago. To go from the Chicago Cultural Center to the Pinecrest Garden and find this relationship with you, shows there’s some kismet in the universe, right?
(A+W) Lolo was the inspiration for this newsletter and much more. She suggested that we introduce our customers to each other. Kismet, maybe. Or, the power of Lois to have her arms around such a wide world.
What do you like to do as a family?
Fairchild Garden. Walking around there – either early in the day or late in the day. And, the butterfly house we’ve been to probably a thousand times. We love going to UM basketball games, we’re big sports fans. Lila is ice skating a few times a week in Coral Springs and Grant’s a big soccer player. He’s playing a few times a week as well and every Saturday.
And the market! You’ve seen our kids since they were little-little and now, they can order and pay themselves. It’s so cool.
Where do you all like to go out for food? What recommendations can you share?
You know, we are kind of like creatures of old habit. One of our places we go to pretty often is Hillstone. We just kind of like the vibe and going there. On Saturday mornings, when we don’t have soccer or other obligations, we’ll ride our bikes to have breakfast at Green Street. We also love Strada in the Grove. That’s one of our favorites.
What about for a special occasion?
We love La Mar in the Mandarin Oriental. That’s one of our favorites, especially sitting outside.
What do you all like to cook at home?
I’m in charge of taco night and spaghetti night, which is pretty easy but not easy for me. Deb’s a great cook. She elevates what we eat.
What’s the area’s best-kept secret?
I would say the farmer’s market, but that’s not true anymore. We’ve been Fairchild Gardens members since we moved here. And most days absent of them having a big festival, it is quiet and beautiful. We always see different things and the kids just love it. And, when my parents come to visit – it is sort of a ritual that we go and walk around. It’s a pretty special place to us.
What’s a worthy splurge?
What’s a good rainy-day activity?
Honestly, just being home and hanging out with the family because we’re always going in a million directions and I travel frequently. It’s just nice to be together.
What are your favorite sports teams?
We are big, big Cubs fans. We’re huge Northwestern sports fans. Grant, I must give a shout out, loves the University of Georgia.
Where’s the most romantic spot around?
I would say Matheson Park. For one of our wedding anniversaries, as a surprise, I hired a chef to make us dinner and we sat outside at sunset. It was incredible, until we were overtaken by raccoons. There wasn’t much romance anymore. We scurried back to the car. It was like a scene from Great Outdoors with John Candy. So I’d say Matheson – before dark.
Do you participate in any community or philanthropic events that you would like to share?
American Immigration Justice – AIJ reform. Also, our kids go to St. Stephens and we do a lot of things through their Helping Hands Group.
And we’ve remained politically active, finding and supporting candidates who are of like mind and spirit and helping them navigate through what’s going on right now.
Would you like to share a pitch about your business?
I’d love to turn it back to you. You are always asking your readers what you can do to help promote their business – I would love to know what we could do as market goers who literally love, love, love what you guys bring to the market every Sunday. What could we do to pitch you?