Torey Alston is back in Fort Lauderdale to make a difference.
After career moves including working in Tallahassee, where he interned under former Gov. Jeb Bush, a brief stint with the Caterpillar corporation in Peoria, Ill., and running two state programs under Gov. Charlie Crist, including supplier diversity, Alston was named chief of staff for Broward County’s District 9.
The 25-year-old Broward native’s first day in the office was March 1.
“Coming back to work and serve in this community was an opportunity,” Alston said. “Many people get a good education, and then they stay away and never want to come back home and serve.”
Accepting the position, Alston said, was an opportunity to “be in a support role, to serve and advise the commissioner; to work with the great team that he already has.”
Broward County Commissioner Albert Jones said he selected Alston for the newly created position in his office based on Alston’s qualifications as an administrator, along with his record of customer service.
As a native of Broward, Alston is “another example of our young leaders coming back home to serve the community,” Jones said.
“Torey has a solid record of leadership, innovation and being a good administrator,” Jones said. “With his experience managing two state programs in Tallahassee and overseeing a staff of nearly 18 individuals at one point, he will add value to my office and support the needs of this district.”
District 9 includes some of Broward’s poorest neighborhoods. It is also home to many of the county’s black residents.
Alston said the biggest pressing issue in the district is economic development, including jobs, contracts and opportunities for small businesses.
“We have discussed looking at an education advisory committee for the county; providing economic development workshops and town halls. We have already started to put some drafts together,” he said. “I will do what I can to ensure that businesses-small, minority and black-owned-have a fair opportunity to compete and receive county work.”
Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Alston attended Walker Elementary, Parkway Middle and Blanche Ely High Schools. He was active in the Boys & Girls Club, Nan Knox Unit and is still a member of New Mount Olive Baptist Church.
Alston, who is single, recalled the class at Blanche Ely that convinced him to focus on a career in business.
“I wanted to be a pharmacist,” he said. “But after taking a marketing class, I said, ‘No.’ Business is the approach.”
He continued: “That one class made me change my focus and want to attend the business school at FAMU [Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University].”
Alston’s academic career at FAMU, where he received both undergraduate and master’s degrees in business administration, provided a platform for his successes.
“FAMU provided a great foundation for me,” he said. “I was afforded several internship opportunities, including a fellowship during the Bush-Crist transition.
“The school of business,” he continued, “was a great foundation for networking and professional development, but so were Broward schools. I am a product of the district, a product of this county.”
Alston said he hopes to bring fresh ideas, leadership and new energy to the position. And his age, he said, had no bearing on Jones’ selection.
“The commissioner saw my track record,” he said.
Jones said Alston’s youth will bring fresh leadership, energy and diversity of thought to the position.
“Alston has a reputation of problem solving and delivering results,” Jones said. “Our district needs someone who will support me pushing our agenda forward and a team player with other stakeholders to ensure our issues are first priority.”
Photo: Torey Alston