Vernon LaVia

Vernon has resided in Aurora, IL since 1998 with his wife and two daughters. He is the President & Founder of Defibrillators, Inc. (an AED sales & distribution company), and he currently sits on the state Board of Directors of "IL Audubon Society" and the Advisory Board of "The Conservation Foundation." His father instilled in him the sense of journey, quite literally. Vernon has gone bird watching for over 49 years (since age 7) on 6 continents, in 49 countries and all 50 states. He has had many diverse experiences including studying socioeconomics in Costa Rica, observing bird habitat destruction in Kenya, participating in archeological digs at Mayan ruins in Belize, and building a Habitat for Humanity home in Central America. He’s been as far south as Antarctica and as far north as Nome, Alaska. He’s seen about 3,600 of the planet’s est. 11,000 bird species.He attended Duke University where he graduated cum laude with a degree in Economics and minor studies in English and Classical Studies (U.S. Navy ROTC).Vernon spent 1985 – 1999 in Employee Benefit Insurance Sales and Management at Fortune 100 companies, but he had a series of near-death experiences that changed everything. Suffering through amoebic dysentery and botulism while birding in Africa, and a 9-day coma/40-day hospital stay after contracting West Nile Virus from a mosquito while bird watching in Aurora, IL, made him realize a greater purpose in a life that had been mostly shallow, hollow and vacuous up to that point. So, he charted a course to leave Corporate America, own several small businesses that would be run by employees, and focus his life on three areas: local community service, human survival on the planet, and family.In 1999, on his eldest daughter’s first birthday, Vernon achieved his goal and left Corporate America to begin a greater focus on his family and community issues. From 1994 to the present, he and his wife have started eighteen small businesses and two non-profit companies. In 2000, his Dad died in his arms while bird watching on ATTU Island, Alaska, and from that death his defibrillator business was born. His wife Linda, former member of the IL House of Representatives and current Secretary of the Department of IL Veteran Affairs, has enjoyed the “journey” with him. Needless to say, he is also instilling the “exploration bug” in his two daughters, Veronica (21) and Jacqueline (18). Vernon is passionate about helping human advancement. Life continues for him as a journey of discovery.