American Philatelic Society

The Start of a Collecting Journey

APS Executive Director Shares His Story

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      An old Chinese proverb reminds us that, “a journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.” In my case, the journey has been more like 1,180 miles from Trappe, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, to Columbia, South Carolina, to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania to serve as executive director of the American Philatelic Society.
      I am looking forward to joining a great APS team; they represent the foundation for some exciting things to come. More on that later, but let me start with an introduction.
      Growing up, I had an interest in late 19th- and early 20th-century U.S. history — reading books about our industrialization, the World Wars, and the Cold War era. By the time I got to the University of Maryland, history was to be a gateway to teaching, writing, or research. But, to borrow a line from John Lennon, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Before long, I was a husband, father, and working in Washington, D.C., but you never forget your first love.
      The first question is always whether or not I am a collector. The answer is, “not yet.” At some point, all of you took the first step. I have now accomplished that. Aside from the day-to-day management of the American Philatelic Society, I will be actively promoting the organization, as well as the hobby. Thankfully, I have more than 31,000 enthusiastic collectors who have stories to share as part of that education.
      I have been at the beginning of journeys like this before. When I first set foot on the College Park campus, the first person in my family to attend college, the student population was 40 times larger than my hometown. In a matter of days, I was convinced I had made a mistake and wanted to go home again. Thankfully, the fear was fleeting, and I graduated in 1993, beginning a long career in public service.
      Not long after college, my wife and I learned we would be new parents. Despite all the advice and planning, I felt completely unprepared the day my son was born to guide him through the next 18 years of his life. Now, 21 years later, and two more children to follow, I see each of them becoming the adults we had hoped they would be.
      Already, I have considered what might become my focus as a collector. When working in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s, my boss was a member of the U.S. Postal Service Subcommittee.

     My first “get” was a framed presentation piece of the United States 32-cent Remember the Maine commemorative stamp, adding several more over the years, and all traveling with me to Bellefonte.
      I will be looking for covers from towns on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and antique tractors, like the ones I sold in high school and college.
      I also have an interest in Bermuda, where I have always wanted to travel, or Ireland, where much of my family originates, and collecting may ultimately lead to visiting those places one day.
      No doubt, I am going to hear more good ideas from many of you in the weeks and months to come.
      That’s my story and now I want to hear yours.
      By the time you read this, we will have just finished StampShow 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I will start asking you about what brought you to collecting, the APS, and where you see both going in the future.
      That conversation will continue and I want to hear from you. To that end, please feel free to contact me at 814-933-3803 or

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