Robert M. Gooljar, Jr.
Company: Atlas Strategic Group/ IRIS Blossom
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHARLOTTE AREA?
I have lived in Charlotte for 4 years now.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOU?
I am a Trinidadian-American PhD Candidate and multiple-business owner. I am authentically me in every setting I present myself in. I am enthusiastic about my work and passions. Sometimes I talk about things other than the topic at hand because I try to relate to others and our discussions. People in Charlotte usually refer to me as “that guy with the hair” or “Digital Jesus”, my Instagram name. The parts of my identity that make me the most “me” are positivity, authenticity, sensuality, and drive.
DURING YOUR TIME VOLUNTEERING FOR A COMMUNITY ACTIVITY OR PROJECT, WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT?
I volunteered at Time Out Youth where I hosted an event in partnership with the Urban League of the Central Carolinas Young Professionals group: making genderless Valentine’s day cards to make the holiday more inclusive, typically heteronormative. The group of youth I was working with was so happy to see people of color supporting them, as LGBTQIA+ presence in the POC community is usually dimmed. To see some of the faces of both the adults who came to be a part of the event as they worked side-by-side the youth of this organization to make them feel loved on a day celebrating love made this a lasting memory.
IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY? PLEASE BE AS DETAILED AS YOU CAN.
I love to make people happy and tend to send my positivity where it is needed. I am very passionate about equity. Although this is a broad-level passion, it is encompassing, and I act on it in multiple ways as it benefits the community. I am passionate about equity in housing and real estate. This is something I research heavily (urban social geography and gentrification) and this research manifests itself in the projects I undertake in my consulting firm. I use data science to better inform real estate decisions and development, taking the guesswork out to mediate some of the negative effects of gentrification (like displacement). Recently, I have been working projects that locate affordable housing, ensuring equity in access and spatial opportunity for those who may have not had them before. I protest (safely) when I can, have an active voice on social media and use the voice of my companies to do the same. I support local businesses as much as possible, take public transit, listen, and amplify the voices of my peers. I volunteer when possible, and I serve on more than one diversity committee at UNC Charlotte to promote diversity, access, and inclusion in the oft-exclusive world of academia. I see the joy on people’s faces when I present them with my interpretations of their flora dreams through arrangements, event pieces, and plantscapes. I donate flowers where I can. I try my hardest every day.
PLEASE LET US KNOW ANY AWARDS OR RECOGNITIONS YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER:
I have been awarded the Bunker Land Group award and the J Dennis Lord award at UNC Charlotte for excellence in location analysis. I was the first person in history to complete the M.A. Geography at UNC Charlotte in one calendar year.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OR INTEREST?
I love plants. I am surrounded by 85+ of them in my home (had to scale back from over 160) and tend to them religiously. I am passionate about food, whether cooking my own (which I excel at, I grew up in a family of cooks) or dining at any of my favorite restaurants in the city. I am a cartography nerd: I sometimes make maps or do analyses for fun. Recently, I’ve gotten back into art by ways of pastel drawing (mostly planning designs for future floristry).
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE THAT YOU STAND BY?
“indeed, you have shown your love for all, but we urge you to excel still more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:10. I interpret this quote/verse in more than one way: that the love I have for people reaches far and wide, but I will continue to love others and show them the positivity that I radiate; and that even though I am active in multiple endeavors and am passionate about so many things, I will always strive to do more.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS? 10 YEARS?
Too many to list, but in a nutshell: the CEO of a more successful Atlas Strategic Group, helping other developers and municipalities understand the effects of real estate on a population, continuing my floristry on a larger scale, CEO of my soon to be non-profit, having multiple grocery stores in accessible locations, professorship, and traveling the world. I want to grow in my relationships, continue to make people happy, and make a difference in the world.
CAN YOUR SHARE ONE THING THAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Ever since I was little, I have wanted to compete in a chicken wing eating contest of some kind.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU USED YOUR PASSPORT?
I went to Trinidad in March! (I was supposed to travel Paris and the coast of France this summer, but COVID.)
WHAT IS A FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NO ONE KNOWS?
While working at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, I named over 100 dams/impoundments discovered by me after my friends, family, myself, and my dog Iris.
WHO IS YOUR HERO?
I MUST list at least a few: my paternal grandmother (the hardest worker I know), my major professor Dr. Isabelle Nilsson, and Chi Chi DeVayne (a recently passed drag queen who was iridescent with passion and positivity).
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
WHAT WAS THE LAST MOVIE YOU SAW?
Not sure, but my favorite movie of all time is Cloud Atlas. Highly recommend.
WHAT WAS THE LAST CONCERT YOU SAW?
I saw Lizzo while guest-bartending at the Fillmore last fall.