About Tom

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a first-generation Irish immigrant mother and a lifelong teacher, coach and recreation director father.IMG_5175 I have a brother and four sisters. I moved to Mount Pleasant the day after I graduated from college to become the Athletic Director, coach and teacher at the old East Cooper School.

Like many people in their early 20s, I moved to Mount Pleasant to start my adult life. I was exposed to Mount Pleasant for the first time in 1978 and never left. My first apartment was a studio apartment, in The Common on Coleman Boulevard on Shem Creek. When I go back to the creek, even today, I still appreciate the familiar smells of the marsh, the pluff mud and the water.

I have done various things while in Mount Pleasant but I keep getting pulled back to 100 Ann Edwards Lane, the site of Mount Pleasant Town Hall. My first job out of college was at East Cooper School, located on the site of today’s Mount Pleasant Town Hall. I oversaw the construction of the track and the field, which are still there today, and coached many games in the gym. Shortly after teaching, and a few years in the insurance business, I came back to Mount Pleasant Town Hall as the recreation director for the Town. I am very proud to have been able to be a part of an amazing Town of Mount Pleasant staff. The recreation department was award-winning, but I learned that any department’s success owes a debt of gratitude to the other departments in the Town as well as to the administration and elected officials. I was lucky to have been a department manager under Mac Burdette. It was while working for the Town that I learned the “business” of government. After 17 years as the executive director of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, I am on another quest to come back to 100 Ann Edwards Lane as a Town Council member.

My family is my most important priority. I met my wife Jackie in college and we have been married for over 38 years. We have three grown children and two IMG_5180grandchildren. The passions and hobbies that my wife and I share have kept us together. We are both very active physically, regularly competing in local runs, races and triathlons. We are avid cyclists and love to scuba dive. My wife and I are also coaches. We started our professional careers as coaches and we both are still volunteer coaching today in track and field. Jackie has been teaching math for over 28 years. She tried retirement this year but failed miserably, and now regularly volunteers at Cario Middle School and tutors. She will teach dual credit math classes next year, part-time, at Oceanside Collegiate Academy in Mount Pleasant.

Professionally, I am on the faculty at Clemson University as a professor of practice. Professor of practice means that I have gotten my knowledge and material through experience and expertise obtained in the field, as opposed to academia. Many universities now have professors of practice. I teach the business and entrepreneurial aspects of parks and recreation, and I have been fortunate to have been asked to speak regularly on the topic throughout the US, Canada, and soon, Mexico. I also serve as the executive director of the Parklands Foundation of Charleston County, which is Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission’s non-profit fundraising arm. I am passionate about our two Parklands projects. The first is the Genesis Project, which exists to build and operate pools in the rural areas of South Carolina where the incidence of African-American drownings is prevalent. The second project, Pass it Forward, is a “Play for Life” project facilitating ways for as many youth as possible to compete and benefit from all of the values that youth sports teach.

There is a misconception by my friends and acquaintances that I am retired. I don’t see myself as retired. Hopefully, as long as I am alive, I will be contributing something to someone. My next desire is to utilize my over 25 years of proven government executive management experience to work with the Mayor and Town Council together to make Mount Pleasant the greatest city in the world…I’m serious.