Meet The Collaborators

While the table below shows some of our differing persuasions, we all desire meaningful spaces for citizens to safely interact and influence change.  There is no way the 11 Secrets would have come to pass without the helpful insights by the 20 New Patriots listed here. The 11 Secrets are imperfect, we are imperfect, and we don’t agree on all points.  But we realize it is 

far better to be imperfectly together than to be both imperfect AND alone.  

For the sake of something bigger than ourselves, the American experiment, the 20 of us remain eager, despite our differences, to engage.  We hope you will too! 

First a summary table of the collaborators, followed by individual introductions.

In addition to the 20 of us listed here, there were over 180 other interviews conducted for the book!

Sean Carver (illustrator) 

Theresa Mallinak

George Williams

Ty Olson

Dr Haque

Bob Wetzel

Josh Holm

Charesha Barrett is the founder and president of CHARP Education Consulting (CHARPED), a nationally recognized diversity and inclusion (D&I) consulting and training firm. After 20 years witnessing first-hand how educational disparities contribute to school-to-prison and cradle-to-career pipelines, Barrett was prompted to launch CHARPED in 2014.

Barrett’s mission is to ensure that historically marginalized individuals are provided with a level playing field as it relates to social mobility. She illustrates her commitment to this cause through fostering collaborative partnerships with community organizations to design customized two-generational programming that simultaneously addresses the needs of both the children and the adults.

The foundation of Barrett’s experience was developed from her domestic and international roles in academic leadership, staff development, and program planning. She is a former instructional coach, learning coordinator, and teacher. In response to America’s demographic shift and increasingly divisive political climate, Barrett decided to expand her activities to include diversity and inclusion

Through her roles as advisor, trainer and facilitator, Barrett consults with businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and educational institutions on meeting their performance and D&I goals through building and sustaining inclusive work environments for both their employees and clients. This sought-after speaker has spoken nationally on teacher leadership, implicit bias, racial equity and cultural competency. 

Her company’s commitment to action, “Excelling Hispanics to Prosperity,” was accepted by the White House Initiative on the Educational Excellence of Hispanics. The subsequent year, she published her first chapter titled “Using Mentorship to Transition Black Males to Prosperity” in the “Closing the Education Achievement Gap for African-American Males” book. As a YWCA-trained social justice facilitator, she cultivates empathetic leadership for communities and businesses with intentional and productive dialogue. Barrett addresses these pressing issues through having individuals negotiate their own social identities to establish common ground that values diverse perspectives. Through building alliances with organizations like Fighting-to-Understand, she can fulfill her mission to eliminate barriers and build bridges for all.

I am first and foremost a Believer and follower of the LORD Jesus Christ.  I was born and raised in a two-parent Christian home with 9 other siblings. So I learn early to talk and work through differences.  Growing up in the Deep South we also learn to respect ourselves and others. I moved north as a young adult and after a few small jobs, I landed on the force of the Cleveland Police Department in the early 80s.  There I worked answering calls and complaints from the citizens of Cleveland for the first ten years and for the next twenty years I was an investigator of sex crimes and child abuse.  This was a rewarding job that I gained much insights into human behavior. It goes without saying that the job taught me how to listen and ask the right questions.  Throughout my career, I was dependent on a good God that kept my heart and mind. In 2010, I began a different chapter in my life as a stay-at-home wife and a grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren.  In order to keep up with these rambunctious little ones, I resumed playing Racqueball at the Kohl YMCA.  There I met a great group of people, one being Ted Wetzel.  He introduced me to a great new idea, Fighting-To-Understand, at a time of political division in our government and society was worth investing time and energy in. I believe if we are ever going to get a reasonable sliver of peace in our neighborhoods, we’re gonna have to be willing to listen to each other and focus on what we have in common in order to start a conversation.

I’m not going to point to any particular areas of Ted’s book at this time. But I will say this which I think surprised Ted when we first met on a flight from Cleveland to Nashville. It was obvious to him I was a black male. What he didn’t see was my very conservative ideals and a strong supporter of President Donald Trump. Thus the stage was set for a very interesting conversation for the hour and a half flight. Permit me to take the rest of this time to tell who Neroy Carter is.

Introduction: Rev. Carter was born in Myrtle Beach S.C. in a little area called Pine Island. He presently lives in Kingsville, Ohio with his wife of over 44 years, Nadena. They have three children and one grandson. 

He has been privileged to teach and preach in Athens, Greece; London, England; Jerusalem, Israel; Berlin, Germany; Kakinada India; Managua, Nicaragua as well as in the countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria and Cameroon, Africa.  

Education:  He spent four years in the U.S. Air Force as a jet engine mechanic.  During this time he completed some college work with the University of Maryland and Ohio University.  While serving in Thailand he studied the Thai language (didn’t make it to fluency but was able to converse effectively) and taught English to Thai Nationalist. He continued his education once he was honorably discharged in 1972.  His studies and travels have taken him to the Middle East over a half dozen times, Africa over a dozen times and Switzerland once. One of such times he studied at the Institute of Holy Land Studies; presently know as College University, in Jerusalem. He received his Bachelor of Theology in Apostolic Studies from Apostolic Bible Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The Apostolic period of the New Testament was his major. Early childhood development was also a strong aspect of his studies. He’s certified through the State of Ohio Department of Education to function as administrator, supervisor or teach in any private school in Ohio. He is also a certified Housing Manager for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Community Involvement: He served on the boards of: Ashtabula County Medical Center for sixteen (16) year, three of those years as Chairman of the boards, and presently a member of their ethics Committee. Rev. Carter is a member of the Hospice of the Western Reserve Board, Ashtabula County Senior Levy Broad, and the founder and developer of both Ridgeview Terrace, a 50 unit Senior Housing complex and Terra Quest, housing for the physically challenged.  

He and his wife, Nadena, served as foster parents for a number of years caring for over 45 children in their home. He is a ’93 Leadership Ashtabula graduate. He also served as a chaplain for Hospice of the Western Reserve for over 25 years and presently is chaplain for Sheffield Volunteer fire department.

Vocation:  Pastor Carter is Pastor Emeritus of New Hope Ministry International formerly New Hope Pentecostal Church having severed as senior pastor for 22 years. He and his wife are still active in the congregation, serving in a support and leadership role.  Under his leadership the church was the primary sponsor of a 50 unit senior housing complex, Ridgeview Terrace.  The 4.2 million dollar project was his vision and received the full support of the congregation.  A second building, Terra Quest, for the physically challenged received it’s first residents on May 1, 2007. He severed as the Executive Director of both facilities of which he was the founder and developer. 

Pastor Carter’s involvement in Africa has been and remains extensive.  He and a London colleague   went to Nigeria in 1996. The mission was to start a school and orphanage.  During that first trip they acquired land and started the building process. The school historically had nearly 200 students and 16 orphans. A small community hospital is also part of this mission at which surgical procedures are performed and babies are delivered.

Pastor Carter and his London colleague partnered with Free Wheelchair Mission from Irvine California and received and distributed over 1,000 free wheelchairs to those in need, both Christians and Moslems, during the past years.  

2004 took Pastor Carter to India for the first time. During this trip, foundation stones were laid for an orphanage in the east coastal city of Kakinada. He still has a burden to see the orphanage come to reality. A second trip in March of 2005 was in part a follow up to tsunami support, 10,000 dollars was given from the Ashtabula community. 

His latest endeavor is RETIREMENT, which is proving to be a full time job. Oh yes, and there is the book!  “God’s Blood – A Natural Guide to Health and A Spiritual Guide to Life” which he is writing and is suppose-to-be done by the end of this year. OOOKKK. . . .

    When Ted first came to visit us in the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Cleveland Service Center, he immediately demonstrated his openness and earnest in understanding the Principle of this Buddhism based organization! We had a very pleasant and inspired discussion about the current needs in “Fighting to Understand”

       I have been a volunteer at Tzu Chi, ( a Taiwanese international humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) with over 10 million members worldwide throughout 51 countries) since I retired from Cleveland Clinic in 1998.

      I used to be a Medical Microbiologist and Immunogeneticist at the Cleveland Clinic. However, I’m more interested in understanding the Meaning and Purpose of life Journey. It is quite important for me to live a life worthwhile. Living in peace and harmony has always been my dream and aspiration! Yet, it has to be sincere and honest! Buddhist teaching is to realize the way to alleviate the suffering by walking on the path in Kindness, compassion, true joy and selfless giving (equanimity). We need to treat all sentient beings with empathy and understanding!

      As I’m a very simple minded person, I admire Ted’s analysis of our complicated and cyclic world phenomena. However, if we can always reflect on ourselves and look the universe as a whole, we shall soon understand to benefit each other is the only way to go! We need to have a worldly view of the current extreme unbalance condition! How do we start from ourselves to live a life with balance and harmony? The mindset has to be cultivated and educated at a very early stage of our life! How do we unlock our habit of wanting power and fame to become serving and contributing! It actually starts with our daily behavior in interacting with people and handle personal or public affairs properly. We need to have a clear awareness of our intention, speech, and action! Without having a constant positive energy flow (be beneficial), we would soon deviate to the road of destruction! Let us hold our hand in hand and work together to exuberant the Human Race! 

      I hope we can explore and develop our good human nature to the fullest Then, the world can and will be a place for all to live and flourish cooperatively and harmoniously.

I like to end with  Pico Lyer saying” What does it mean to be Human: It really means to be connected, make contact, Try to find the best part of yourself and beyond yourself and share with everyone you care for!”!7477d Pico Lyer with Krista Tippett ited] 

Tolerance is one of the fundamental edict of every major religion. However, the interpretation and practice of tolerance, is as varied as the individuals you ask. Is it because of socio-cultural factors, economic reasons, political leanings, role modeling, and sense of entitlement, feelings of deprivations, poor locus of control, and other reasons? None the less, throughout history, some form of religious extremism, fundamentalism, and fanaticism have existed. The root cause continues to be lack of tolerance

My views will focus on the major religions and pivot towards current political discourse that is tearing apart the fabric of our society in one way or another. There are ample evidence, to support the notion that these religions are not evil. It should not come as a surprise to know that every major religion, emphasizes tolerance of the other.  The problem is the interpretation of the practices and beliefs. Many preachers in their selfish interest play up the sentiments. These preachers either are not knowledgeable about the basic foundations of their religion or knowingly manipulate the followers, and politicians jump into the frenzy. Religion has also been a major revenue generator (tax free) for the preachers and their abode of practice. Emotional theatrics, sentimental presentations, and pilgrimage, are major sources of funds. Tolerance has merely become the tool of convenience and open to never ending interpretations.

The democratization of internet and social media have been force multiplier in spreading news and information across the world. Aided by AI, digital development and production would make it impossible for average individual to differentiate between real and surreal. The world is becoming a theatrical stage creating and responding to hunger for sensational entertainment – irrespective of the human cost. The meaning and value of tolerance is eroding and giving way to political shenanigans and demagogues, reigniting a lethal combination of socio-economic, cultural, ethnic, and religious intolerance – history documents the catastrophic outcome. It seems that we are forgetting the lessons of history, and may be, doomed to repeat the mistakes.     

Tolerance is also a key foundation for civil discourse. What is happening in our midst, is alarming erosion of civility, and emergence of tribalism. The places of worship and sanctuary of hope, are becoming pulpits for tribal voices. Willingly or non-willingly, individuals are participants or confounded spectators to assault on human dignity and values. Today, there are individuals who believe that fear mongering, racial and religious divide, and demagoguery practitioners are a group of people with problems. Let us not forget that one of the darkest period in human history, started with the notion that members of the Nazi party were a group of people with some problems. Soon, the people with problems engulfed the world with devastating practices of genocide and destruction. We should revisit the sayings of Berthold Brecht:

“First of all, they came to take the gypsies
and I was happy because they pilfered.
Then they came to take the Jews and I said nothing, 
because they were unpleasant to me.
Then they came to take homosexuals,
and I was relieved, because they were annoying me.
Then they came to take the Communists,
and I said nothing because I was not a Communist.
One day they came to take me,
and there was nobody left to protest.

Born in a village in Punjab, Pakistan. Studied medicine in Pakistan. 

Came to USA 43 years ago. Trained in Surgery and Internal Medicine in New York, New Jersey and Michigan. Cardiology training at Cleveland Clinic.

Engaged in private practice of Cardiology in Akron, Barberton & Wadsworth for 35 years. Summa & Cleveland Clinic Akron General & Medina Hospitals.

Membership and Leadership in Summit County Medical Society, American College of Cardiology, Heart Rhythm Society, American Society of Echocardiography, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, American Heart Association, Ohio State Medical Association and Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America.

Involved with Islamic Community Centers in Cleveland, Canton, Akron and Kent. Involved in interfaith and peace work. Learning to understand and get along with people of different opinions and outlooks. Member ACLU, ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) and CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations).

Married with children. Grown Boys and Girls doing their things. 

Hoping to leave a better world for children and grandchildren.

I grew up in Parma, Ohio.  I attended three colleges, Akron, Cuyahoga Community College, and finished a bachelor’s degree at Baldwin Wallace.  My father’s parents immigrated from Sicily. I worked as a secretary on an inpatient surgical floor at Parma Hospital for over 14 years.  I was born with a muscle disease that has left me with some limitations, but I am always willing to try something first and not just assume it is not possible.  I have performed in local theatre, enjoy singing, drawing, sculpting and a huge animal lover – just ask my cat Gracy.

My connection to the book topic is wanting change in our country.  I am a concerned citizen and feel a need to get involved. I have a hope that every citizen would care enough to question the direction our country is headed.  Some people seem to have an apathetic view of government activities. Some might view what they see on TV as entertainment – that there is nothing that needs to be done.  The increase in communicating by text or by social media causes more isolation and a lack of unity. As if there is not need to come together or interact.

Growing up, we were always told to not discuss politics.  That everyone has their opinions and it leads to arguments. But it seems people used to still be civil when discussing their differences. People now seem more fanatical in their thinking.  Rather than just an opinion, we can fall into the belief of being the only one to be right. Many people I encounter don’t even give me a choice about discussing the issue and seem to be determined to change my mind.  I can be treated as if I cannot think for myself.  

Every life has meaning.  If someone feels their life is pointless, that can lead to depression and hopelessness and that is dangerous.  Sometimes we may look to someone and think their life is sad. Then they do something to show you how special they are.  We all have a need for acceptance.

It has become easier and easier to isolate.  Not only did people of my parent’s generation love to socialize, but they took pride in the groups they belonged to.  My father bragged about being on the same bowling league for 40-years. My mother belonged to a group for people with disabilities. As children, my brother and I would accompany my parents to their social events.  When my father started attending Disabled American Veterans meetings, my mother joined the auxiliary. I think it would be a great idea to get back to a time when people enjoy spending time together.

We need to evolve into a better society.  I feel that as Americans we can improve – we have the ability.  We need to learn to work together, compromise, and resolve issues civilly, and not argue like two, 5-year-olds fighting over a toy.

Is a brother and son, husband and father. In his spare time he is also a Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for Conflict Management, and Associate Dean for the Social Sciences at the University of Akron.  His first book, The Politics of Community Policing: Rearranging the Power to Punish, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 1999.  His third book (with Julie Drew, same press), Punishing Schools: Fear and Citizenship in American Education, came out in the spring of 2006, followed soon after by (with Julie Drew and Lance Svehla) Sound Bite Saboteurs: Public Discourse, Education, and the State of Democratic Deliberation, was published by SUNY Press in 2010. And his most recent book is The Akron Story Circle Project: Rethinking Race in Classroom and Community, which was published by the University of Akron Press in 2017.

Bill keeps putting off starting research on new book project tentatively titled Engage with Love: Christian Approaches to Conflict.  Bill is a life-long Red Sox fan, who loves to play volleyball, ping-pong, basketball, ultimate frisbee, and card games, to body surf, garden, hike and bike, juggle, fence, and cook (because of the direct connection to eating).  He was selected by the students at the University of Akron as Faculty of the Year for 2003 and by his peers as Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2009.  

He earned a BA in Economics and Chinese Language from the University of Massachusetts, an MALD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a PhD from the University of Washington. After completing his doctorate he was hired as Director of the Research & Grants Division at the Seattle Police Department. In 1980 Bill was among the first cohort of Americans to study in China after the US recognized Beijing and he ended up staying for three years in the 1980s, living in Beijing, Xian and Nanjing and playing two years of college basketball!  In 1992 Bill taught in Pecs, Hungary as a Soros Fellow for an academic year and in 2000-2001 he spent a fourth year in China at Beijing Foreign Studies University as a Fulbright Scholar.

A lifelong resident of Northeast Ohio, Theresa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Kent State University. She has 25 years’ experience as a home educator, Sunday school teacher, and active member of her local church and community. She is a wife of 35 years to Michael, mother of seven, and grandmother of three (as of this writing). At 23 years of age Theresa had a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ and has enjoyed a living relationship with her Lord ever since. She values robust, respectful, and informed dialogue about the issues of our time with all-comers to the discussion table.

On October 4 1976 I reached Memphis Tennessee after leaving Bangalore India on October 1 1976.  The freedom to express yourself existed in India but under very rigid patriarchal system guidelines. It was refreshingly exciting and different in the USA. This refreshing engagement has significantly declined over the last 10 years and citizens have stopped talking, listening and questioning appropriately. Hopefully “we the people” will change this “state of the union”.

My name is Seham Sayed, I am an Egyptian and American citizen. I graduated from Kent State University with two master degrees in Education & Teaching English as a Second Language in 2013. I worked as an English as a Second Language instructor at Kent State University from 2013-2017. I am currently teaching Arabic at the university of Akron. I am a passionate person and I always do what I love. I enjoy teaching, volunteering, and helping my community. 

I believe in democracy and freedom. I believe in helping people no matter what are their race or religion….etc. I believe that we don’t have to be homeless to help end homelessness. We don’t have to be poor to help end poverty. We don’t have to be unemployed to help end unemployment. We don’t have to be American citizens to end discrimination. We only have to be human beings to help and make a difference. I believe in the importance of freedom of speech and religion as in the first Amendment. I believe that we are all different. That’s the beauty of it. We should celebrate and appreciate our differences instead of judging each other by color, religion, …etc. 

As a Muslim, I believe that acts of violence by some Muslim extremists claiming to be Muslims have raised fears and created confusion and misinterpretation about Islam. My true religion Islam “Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives.  There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.”

Here is The Fiqh ( the body of the Islamic law) Council of North America’s statement affirms the following Islamic principle: ” All acts of terrorism, including those targeting the life and property of civilians, whether perpetrated by suicidal or any other form of attacks, are haram (forbidden) in Islam.’’ Islam means peace NOT violence and hatred. As an American Muslim, I am a member in the interfaith ( Christians, Jews, Muslims) group in which we are all working together to a future of peace and understanding of each other. So instead of having fears from the other, we work to get together and understand and respect each other.  

I have a dream like ‘Martin Luther King’, that we all live united not divided, we live with love not hatred, and we celebrate our diversity in peace and justice. 

I have had a unique opportunity to get glimpse of one of the most underserved populations in the country. The number of individuals who have some form of serious mental illness is greatly underestimated. The vast majority of the mentally ill receive little or no treatment. As a result of their illness they become isolated from family and have few if any close relationship. They are often homeless, hungry and unwashed. There are a distinct lack of facilities available to provide basic necessities and long term residential care facilities (nice name for psychiatric hospitals) are disappearing at a rapid rate. 

Based on my experience the vast majority of these individuals are the product of dysfunctional families and are at a disadvantage from the day they are born. The individuals that I have worked with that have had the support of family and friends are most likely to receive and accept treatment, thus become able to function and thrive in the community. It must be noted that even those individuals with strong family support struggle. I worked with a young man whose family was extremely supportive and tried everything to help him only to lose him to an overdose at the age of 23.

In order to thrive as a country we must be willing to discuss our problems and work on solutions that are in the best interests of everyone. We must not succumb to self interest or petty arguments that pander to the fringe elements.  We need to get back to the family and perhaps work less and spend expend more effort on raising our children. We must be accountable and wiling to listen more than speak, to act more than speak, to speak and act against injustice. We must be able to provide life, liberty and the pursuit of justice all the time, not just when it is convenient or easy or when it meet our purpose.

We should all serve a greater good. National service for a period of two years should be required of all. This would be excellent way to learn sacrifice and to meet a diverse group of individuals thereby gaining perspective. Perspective is one of the most important attributes a person can have. Perspective enables a person to see their life in a different light.  We need to stand in someone shoes in order to understand how they think and what they need.

The problems we face in the world today are complex and their solutions require collaborative efforts now more than ever.  Americans want only two things from their government – (1) a sense that the people elected are working in their interest, and (2) a sense that they’re involved.  Real issues (issues affecting your day-to-day life, or your children’s) often become diluted in context. When the important issues appear front and center and generate attention, the narrative often becomes entangled in political he-said/she-said propaganda driven by individual agendas where the hard facts get mixed in with yesterday’s hash.  What happened to compromise, problem-solving, and sound policy-making in the public sector? We need legislators and political leaders to spend more time defining and executing long-term game plans to address important national issues, and less time in front of the cameras promoting their agendas in order to win today’s news cycle.

Greater political partisanship seems to have, in fact, led to weaker political parties.  Political factions within parties weakens their overall message to the national electorate.  We tend to make our policies more complex, opening up loopholes that leads to more dilution and confusion.  Many of these political debates today center around change, which we all know is inevitable. How we deal with it is important, whether it’s a change in the job market, a change national/neighbor demographics, changes in the tax laws, changes as to where your tax dollars are going, or determining whether climate change is real or not.

Can you honestly say that you know the hard facts on both sides of these issues?  I know I’m still fighting to understand, and it’s not easy. Ask yourself… Do we make enough time to understand the truth?  Do we care? Or do we accept opinions of celebrity athletes or TV/movie stars?  If the answer to this last question is ‘yes’, it sheds a sorry shadow on today’s electorate.

It seems as if today’s politicians do less and less legislating and more self-promoting.  Constituency doesn’t just include voters, but all branches of government that politicians serve or influence.  Ideas presented to the public are delivered fast and furiously, but actual solutions seem to be slow to evolve…at least to my satisfaction. Many ideas meant to cut to the heart of any issue lack substance and sound research, nor do these ideas provide sound, defined plans to promote success.  We need more problem-solving types in charge of our public policies who go beyond empathetic voices and whose constituency holds them accountable for their ability to deliver.  

We’re in an era of unprecedented progress and prosperity that shouldn’t be taken for granted – an information age with an unlimited demand of questions and a limited supply of practical answers.  Yet in a in a world that’s so information savvy, as a society we seem to be so disconnected and detached, transaction heavy and relationship light.  

Regardless of my politic ideology I have always firmly believed that we needed leadership in Washington (as well as in state and local governments) who has good business acumen and can put the country back on a positive economic trajectory.  We are achieving this goal, but at what cost? Increased political partisanship? Stronger-than-ever socio-economic divides? Increasing detachment and disengagement between governments and We the People?  

Fighting-to-Understand matters because it encourages all of us to re-engage and re-attach.  It’s a platform that serves as a means for the American people to take back their country through inquisitive unbiased and thoughtful understanding of the issues that matter most to us.  Filter out the media, big business influences and political mumbo-jumbo. It’s not easy in this day of social media and digital technology. Ted claims it won’t be easy. It’s figuratively the road less traveled.  

As a society can we continue down the path we’re on today?  What catastrophic event will eventually demark a transition from government distrust to trust?  A deflection from civil discourse to social civility? From an individual sense of hopelessness to a sense of empowerment?  Generational solutions are needed to make them sustainable. This requires education, filtering of diverse opinions, and a return to higher individual standards of respect, humility, integrity, drive, commitment, passion, optimism, self-reliance, and delayed satisfaction (vs. on-demand gratification).  

I’ve known Ted for a many years, recently as a member of The Traveling Circus of Knuckleheads – a group of guys who get together each Fall to enjoy college football and tailgating across the U.S.  As a longtime friend of Ted’s, I know wholeheartedly that he is authentic in his motives and truly believes in the methodology he proposes to help people find a better way to understand how to cut through the weeds to find meaningful and sustainable solutions to what ails us.  FtU starts with individuals, but can’t fester in isolation. Ted’s approach is one that brings about true collaboration and trust with the end goal of using this information database for the common good. Idealistic? Perhaps.  

Maybe it takes a knucklehead like Ted to lead the charge.

I am the luckiest guy in the world! Renee and I have been married for 35 years, we are part of a large loving family, we have great healthcare (saved my life 3 times), and we live in a great, free country that is full of possibility. Being lucky does not always make things easy.  Working hard was modeled for us from a young age. Renee and I are a great team because we are opposite in many ways. And we drive each other crazy too (sort of like America!). So don’t be surprised to learn that Renee is the real expert in conflict transformation! Haha. Our greatest accomplishment: raising 3 remarkably rooted and loving adult children, Christina (and Eric), Rob (and Holly and grandchild), and Tim (and Jennifer).  We so enjoy watching them flap their wings.

I am a bit of a generalist.  I have had 4 different careers, including 5-years as manufacturing engineering in the Fortune 500 world, 17-years in sales, marketing, senior management in the medium sized manufacturing world, 11-years in small service business ownership,  all for-profit. And now writing about the simply complicated. I don’t have an advance degree, but I read and I pay attention. Or so I try. As a generalist, there are many authors, ideas, classes, journals, discussions, events, seminars, people and places visited, and other life experiences that have stuck to me and are now baked-into-the-book. As a generalist, I fall prey to the 80/20 rule…which is to say that the remaining 20% of the understanding that I am missing would take me 4x as much time and effort to obtain. Which is further to say that if you are an expert in one of these areas, you are invited to “fill in the blanks” (and accept my gratitude for your investing the extra 4x effort to understand at the expert level).  In still other words, I have attempted to maximize our impact here by focusing on the 20% of causes that seem to produce 80% of the effect.

Aside:  the 80/20 rule comes from 19th century economist, Pareto.  His “Law of the vital few” basically says that for many problems, 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes.

The one area I have been a consistent “seeker” most of my life has been in the search for wholeness at the psychological and spiritual levels.    One might say that I have had the garden variety psychological and spiritual struggles, and one might say that I tend to scratch at them longer than the average person.  

Politically I lean left on some issues, right on others, and centrist on others… so I suppose that makes me a moderate. In my younger days I was prone to conspiracy theories and catastrophizing.  I grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family, 1 of 7 children, in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I am the 4th, with 3 older sisters, which makes me the middle of 7 and the oldest boy . . . therapists earn their pay with me!   My first job was a carrier for the afternoon Cleveland Press newspaper (the printing presses have been idle for decades).  I experienced my first recession when my paper route customer base fell from 58 daily to 49. To pay for college, I commuted to Cleveland State, my parents paid half, and I worked at a local shopping center cleaning the sidewalks, emptying the trash cans and painting the parking lines. 

Although I try to pride myself on being “self-made”, upon reflection realized that is never possible.  I now view being “self-made” to be one of our traps.

Spiritually I consider myself simply loved by God.  It makes complete sense to me that God would strive to be revealed to many different people at different periods in history, including through Moses, Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, Confucius, to name a few… as well as a lovely sunrise or a walk in the woods.  It also makes sense to me that God would not want a follower of one of these spiritual leaders to believe they were better than another.

I enjoy humor.  I sometimes use it to avoid pain, but for the book and website I hope you find that the humor used was useful for perspective, and to acknowledge that the left and right brain is needed.  The humor is not intended to make light of very serious topics.

Me and my dad, Eugene Wetzel, at Bob’s Barber Shop, Solon, Ohio, 2017.  Dad, RIP 9/21/2018. A man with abundant faith in God’s love for him, such that he laughed every day, including his last. 


Following a 30+ year Information Technology career within corporate, civic and non-profit environments, now shares these experiences as an independent business counselor, career coach and licensed financial services advisor.  In doing so, works first-hand with business owners, career professionals, families and students to supplement and enhance their talents, ideas and opportunities toward their potential – with a personal touch.  

A native of Cleveland Ohio, a graduate of its public school system, John Carroll University and the Tuck School of Business, has simultaneously been active as a mentee, mentor and champion for diversity in employment, procurement and entrepreneurship. 

Has served as the Cleveland and National President of Black Data Processing Associates, as a Co-Founder of the Consortium of African American Organizations and as a Founding Member with the Information Technology Senior Management Forum.   In addition, continues to volunteer as board member and community liaison to civic organizations including the Metro Health Hospital System Institutional Review Board, the American Heart and Stroke Association, The Cleveland Church and Fighting To Understand.

In November 2017, was elected by the residents of Mayfield Village Ohio to be their Ward Councilman.

By blending experience and opportunity, his professional career has transitioned with ever-changing technologies, business practices and societal cultures – with a purpose to assist others in today’s competitive global economy.

My work life has taken some unusual twists and turns. I moved to Akron, OH from Long Island for a job: to save the world by designing nuclear power plants. (I know this is controversial to some, but I still think they’re better for our health and environment than fossil fuel power plants.) After a few years, I became more interested in the business aspects of how companies are run, and moved into business development and program management. At age 32, I hired a career counselor to figure out what I really, really wanted to do with my life. He helped me see that I could do what fed my passions, and thus I began a circuitous journey to my current work in the world – as an executive coach who helps leaders and their teams develop the skills, presence, and wisdom to be effective leaders and humans. Most of my clients report that this helps them at home too, and that pleases me greatly. 

My path along this journey has evolved in some surprising ways. I studied Gestalt psychology and organizational behavior for fifteen years and taught it for 5 years; I’ve read many books on human and spiritual development and taken a few classes in Spiral Dynamics, a specific form of human development; I’ve become certified in Nervous System Energy Work, a form of hands-on energy healing; and I have (so far) participated in 5 Buddhist silent meditation retreats and have studied Buddhist psychology. Most of these endeavors are considered pretty “out there” for someone with a Civil Engineering degree and an MBA. To me, this speaks to a strong dynamic tension in me between my analyzing/organizing self vs my connecting/developing/spiritual self. I live in this tension, and often feel pulled by it in opposing directions. Maybe that’s why I’m often asking myself “Who am I really?”

I was taught by some mentors in Akron to serve our community, and I jumped in with both feet. Part of my journey has been coming to the realization that I want to help create the world that I want to live in. In my desired world, everyone has strong, supportive social connections so no one feels lonely, left out, or separate, and everyone has equitable opportunity to take advantage of the best this world has to offer. To create this world, people need support and they need very specific skill sets.

When Ted approached me with his ideas, I was impressed by the amount of thought he’d put into the rEvolution concept and even more by his willingness to listen to fresh ideas that bumped up against his already-developed thoughts. He lives into the ideas in the book. I was able to bring my whole self to our conversations, my analytical mind as well as my connecting/developing/spiritual self. In this book, Ted has developed a unique and important framework for building connections and understanding within the political sphere. Like me, Ted wants to create the world he wants to live in, and like me, he wants people to connect around their differences rather than be separated by them. I’m delighted that the ideas, processes, and skills described in this book have the potential to move our country in this direction. 

Two more things to include in this brief bio: I have been married to the same wonderful man for almost 38 years, and we have two adult daughters, both productive citizens who love their careers and are doing their part to change the world. We are very proud parents! And lastly a shout-out to the stigmatized world of psychotherapy. I would not be where I am without 20+ years of therapy in which five very competent therapists helped me learn to be a skillful (mostly) adult.