In Abraham’s Voice:
I was born to parents who experienced the classic American immigrant story. My paternal great grandfather had moved from Italy to New York, and my mother’s family came from Amman, Jordan. Both my parents felt grateful for the opportunities America offered them, so they worked hard to instill in their children good citizenship values, particularly honesty, integrity, and hard work. They also wanted to be examples of patriotism. My father, Richard, served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, and one of my brothers followed in our father’s footsteps, serving in the military and the police before starting a career as a college counselor.
My mother, Renee, served her country through community action, helping anyone in need. My wife, Jennie, is also a beacon of light to me and others. We have two young children, Layla Grace and Abraham Cristiano, and I hope to instill in them the values that my parents instilled in me.
During my late teenage years and early twenties, I played college football and baseball out of state before coming back to Claremont to attend Cal Poly Pomona University, where I majored in Business with an emphasis in finance, real estate and law. Through hard work, I was given the Golden Keys Honors award and the Beta Gamma Sigma Award.
After college, I entered the LA County Firefighting Academy where I served as a battalion chief and graduated at the top of Class 19. I felt, though, that there was another need in the community. I decided to following my calling to become a pastor and serve the Claremont and surrounding communities in a more spiritual sense. As a pastor, I had my heart and my mind transformed to be more selfless, putting others before me, to never judge and to have an open and honest heart. It deeply developed in me the genuineness to always show unconditional love no matter the walk of life. I made it a point to remember that I am here to serve and to lead by example. Even now, I strive to continue to grow in love, grace and mercy.
For me, business is about people. You build a business with people and for people. I currently run a successful real estate business in Claremont, and in recent years I have been involved in projects like Victoria Gardens, Upland Colonies, commercial redevelopments in Palmdale and developments in Hesperia and Laguna Beach. The highlight of my business career, however, was RealtyClean. Between 2008 and 2012, two associates and I, all local Claremont residents, built RealtyClean from a small business located above the Pizza ‘n Such into a national property preservation and management franchise.
What warmed my heart most was how we met the challenge of the property crash. We were offered the chance to cash out and walk away, but we felt we owed it to the people who helped us build a company to ride out the storm, at least long enough for them to find other work. Through this transition period, we were limping along at break-even. But, when we did finally sell the company, it was well worth the wait. This was a powerful reminder to us of how faith and loyalty can work both ways.
I feel blessed to have the knowledge and experience that I have. To spread this knowledge to help others, I make it a point to do as much pro bono mentoring as I can for local businesses and have worked as an advisor with several small enterprises to help them turn their businesses around.
Recently, I was elected to the Grievance Committee, Value Committee, and the Finance and Budget Committee of the Citrus Valley Association of Realtors. The mission of these organizations is to support the building of strong communities, promote a vibrant business environment and facilitate the professional development of real estate professionals. I feel that my strong connections with these associations and my experience as the CEO of a successful business will help me in making informed decisions on behalf of the citizens of Claremont. I have learned what it means to lead not only a corporation in a direction with vision, but to lead by encouraging other leaders and finding the strength in every person.
Through my work as a Real Estate Broker, General Contractor and Developer, I have also learned the value of creative thinking, particularly about city infrastructure and how to increase the value of communities. Most importantly, though, I have learned the value of working with people, for people. It is my hope that all this experience can be put to a positive and proactive use in serving the people of Claremont.