John grew up in a large family in Wilmington, Illinois, the third of five children. He learned early on the value of hard work, watching the sacrifices his parents, Tom and Dolores, made to put food on the table and provide a solid education for their kids. Dolores worked several part-time jobs, including a time as a pharmacist clerk and then as a high school bus driver, and Tom worked as a teacher, college administrator and coach.
John attended St. Rose elementary and graduated from Providence Catholic High School. After his family moved to Colorado, John attended Regis University, where he was named captain of the baseball team and earned co-MVP honors.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Regis, and went on to complete a Master’s degree in Sociology with a focus on community economic development from the University of Colorado Denver.
In 1993, John moved to Washington, DC to intern with Common Cause, the good-government watchdog group, where he worked on various state and national efforts to curb the corrupting influence of money in the politics. In 1995, John became a policy analyst for the Center for Policy Alternatives, a non-partisan group that produced a variety of policy recommendations on various topics, including sustainable development and smart growth, and expanding democratic participation and voting rights.
For the last 17 years – and the past 8 years remotely -- John has worked as the Director of Information Technology for NASPA, an educational association of student affairs professionals. John married Marybeth Keeler, a Leavittsburg, Ohio native, moving to a home in Cortland where they started a family. Claire Kennedy was born in 2012; Lily Kennedy arrived in 2014. After Marybeth took a job with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, John and family moved to Aurora, Ohio in January, 2015.
Diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic in 1996, John has made his pre-existing condition a motivator to push him to do more – not less. Since 2007, John has finished four full Ironman triathlon events – which consist of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile marathon run. In 2010, he became one of a handful of type 1 diabetics to ever finish the historic Leadville 100 mile trail run, which traverses some of the highest peaks of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. He has finished Ohio’s own Burning River 100 mile trail race, along with three shorter 50 mile versions of the same race.
John has also made an effort to educate and inspire other diabetics. As a Community Columnist for the Warren Tribune Chronicle in 2010, John frequently wrote about his journey of living with diabetes. At the same time, he became involved with Insulindependence, a non-profit group where he volunteered his time to mentor diabetic kids, helping them prepare for the 2012 Ironkids triathlon event in Boulder, Colorado. He and Marybeth held events across the Mahoning Valley inspiring diabetics to exercise, to connect with other diabetics, and share best practices. He joined up with the Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley (DPMV), a group that provides support to the growing population of diabetics. As volunteers with DPMV, John and Marybeth attended state fairs, where they provided guidance and resources to diabetics. John and Marybeth also volunteered for Trumbull Mobile Meals, Inc. a senior meal delivery program.
Like thousands of others living with chronic pre-existing conditions in the district, John knows first hand the importance of having good health care coverage and the critical role it plays in preventing life-threatening, unnecessary and costly complications. If elected to the State House in November, John will fight to protect and expand health care coverage for all citizens in the 76th district, especially those with the greatest need.