By Jaimie M. Engle
The role of a man is not easily defined. He may be a father, a husband, and a professional who works to keep bread on the table. He may stay at home and run a household or a business. He may be a single dad or a college graduate entering the workforce. Whatever the case may be, men have an impact on the next generation of leaders. In honor of Father’s Day, SpaceCoast Living is dedicating the June feature to highlight a few of the many tremendous male leaders in Brevard County.
Alex Rudloff is leaving a legacy. As the recipient of LEAD Brevard’s 4 Under 40 and Florida Today’s “Top 10 to Watch” in 2013, and SpaceCoast Business’ “Person to Watch” in December 2014, Alex describes the honors as humbling. His work at TED, a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, has convinced him quite literally anything is possible.With a global community of more than 3,000 different events through TEDx, encouragement of respectful discourse and creative problem solving leads to magic. Locally, Alex is passionate about The Haven for Children. With more than 10,000 foster kids in Florida, many fall victim to repeating the mistakes of their biological parents. The Haven’s unique approach to foster care helps break that cycle, providing the 31 local children the life they deserve. “From a volunteer’s perspective and that of a donor, it’s extremely rewarding. If you want to change the world, start in your own backyard.”
With the demands on fatherhood equal to the competitive workplace, fatherhood in the 21st century can be tough. Growing up, Alex’s father was an amazing example of dedication, innovation, and doing the right thing. He learned from his dad to find answers for himself, one of the most important skills to teach a child. “Standing on shoulders,” is a lesson Alex pays forward to the next generation.
Jason Schunke is a local father who volunteers at Manatee Elementary. What began as making a few copies to help his son’s teacher became a regular part of his morning routine, which he calls “a positive start to my day.” As a passionate participant in Boy Scouts, Jason organized cheer-stations for this year’s Manatee 5K event. He also helps the PTO with various jobs and runs the school’s LEGO Club. “I’m naturally high strung, so all I really had to do was share the excitement of building with a group of like-minded children.”
Growing up with a career-focused father, Jason gained work ethic, and learned life around the dinner table. Scouting was an important part of his upbringing, a legacy he carries to his own son, Ethan. “My hope is that every dad finds his way off the sidelines and out of the cheer sections to truly do something with their child.” If money were no object, Jason would travel the nation spreading awareness of the signs and symptoms of dyslexia, a disorder his son struggled with for many years. Jason likens himself to R2D2 from the “Star Wars” franchise, stating that although Luke Skywalker was the hero, it was the droid who kept things together behind the scenes, especially when it mattered.
Kevin Kelleher works mostly with Intellectual Property (IP) law firms and inventors specializing in a multitude of different businesses, working on projects such as thrill rides, Nike digital patents, pressure vessels and more. “This has been an exhilarating experience because I have been given freedoms with my clients to ‘think outside the box.’ At the end of the day, I’m responsible for the graphic portions of the patents for so many successful projects.” His most recent project is the world’s tallest roller coaster, nearly 600 ft. tall, which is coming soon to Orlando. A tower with a winding track that runs up and down, creating the tallest high speed roller coaster.
Kevin also manages a large group at the Kennedy Space Center, currently designing the launch systems for the SLS, a heavy-lift vehicle which will carry humans farther than they’ve ever been. Kevin has also been a volunteer firefighter for seven years and a happy father of two, Kevin continues to challenge himself while enjoying his passions outside of work.The most recent “bucket list” item Kevin checked off was running his first marathon.When he does find a little extra time, he enjoys playing ice hockey at the Iceplex, playing with his kids and spending quality time with his girlfriend.
Rev. Glenn B. Dames Jr.
Rev. Glenn B. Dames Jr. serves as President of the North Brevard NAACP branch and as the leader of St. James AME Church in Titusville. Blessed by a number of leadership capacities, he realized early that change had to begin with him. Whether advocating civil issues or empowering others to seek change, his role as a messenger gives voice to the people. “My dad was an awesome father,” Rev. Dames shared. “He was very firm and had great expectations for his children’s futures and demanded we rise to those expectations.” Much of what Rev. Dames has done as a leader stems from his belief that every child deserves a quality education, allowing them to become a leader in their own right by championing the same values expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He has received a myriad of diverse awards throughout his ministry.
As a pastor, he is privileged to speak from God’s word, remind people of God’s mercy, and listen to the difference it makes in their lives. He became the change he wanted to see in the world, like his favorite superhero, Batman; and he continues the cycle of pouring wisdom into children, just as wisdom was poured into him.