Shariff Abdullah is an author and advocate for inclusivity and societal transformation. Shariff’s meta-vision and mission are simple: we can create a world that works for all beings.
Shariff promotes heart-centered inclusivity, compassionate dialog, and a society based on vision and a localized and alternative political economy. His vision and work are informed by his inclusive spiritual practices, his growing up with racism and generational poverty, his legal background as a successful attorney, and his inclusivity experiences in over 100 distinct cultures, spanning 45 countries.
Douglas Alexander is a partner at the Internet Capital Group and an expert on high technology.
Originally from Atlanta, Abba Charice Carmichael grew up in a socially conscious family and submerged herself in the arts whenever possible. Following a promise to her twelve year old self, Abba moved to New York City promptly after graduating college and brought along her studies in various artistic mediums and her passion of working for “the greater good”.
She currently produces a podcast called “The Many Shades of Green“, which aims to raise environmental awareness through interviews with experts and activists in the sustainability movement. It was through her podcast that she was introduced to an IHE graduate student and became involved.
Having for years dreamt up “eco schools of the future” where education was structured around content applicable to everyday life, Abba is overwhelmed and thrilled for the opportunity to collaborate and give her heart towards expanding IHE’s mission and growing a generation of solutionaries!
In addition to her passion for building a sustainable world, Abba has developed a wide range of skills from jobs as an actress, event coordinator, project manager, sales associate, website manager and assistant buyer. Abba founded ACCiting, LLC in 2011 to grow her business as a freelance producer, casting director, website designer, marketing consultant… and anything else that sounded a little daunting but fun.
Abba spends her non-working hours enjoying great food with friends, attending live performances and traveling to explore new cultures (4 continents and 24 countries — and counting). She holds an Associates of the Arts from Young Harris College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
She currently lives in Manhattan with her beau, their betta fish Gary and numerous plants. Abba’s lifelong goal is to grow as many friendships as possible and ignite collaboration. @abbacharice
Sam Chaltain is a writer an education advocate. A former teacher in New York City, Sam lives and works in Washington, D.C.
“There are ways of thinking that haven’t been thought of yet.” This little bit of common sense is pinned to the bulletin board in my office and is like the North Star of education for me. If we aren’t striving to educate ourselves beyond the known world of accepted ideas, we risk never discovering our own capacity for original thought. Humane education provides the framework for those of us who believe an authentic education should include an invitation to examine the world we live in and to apply our best thinking toward solving some of its problems.
Having worked in the field of education my entire adult life here in the U.S., as well as in developing countries, I hold firm to the idea that education is the most viable form of activism on the planet, and that injustice cannot thrive in a climate of awareness and compassion. When I am talking with an M.Ed. student on the phone and we are discussing connections between issues that confront our environment, our fellow creatures, our brothers and sisters around the world, we might suddenly find ourselves feeling as if these issues are so long-standing, so prevalent and intractable, that there is nothing we can do to help. This is when I look to my bulletin board and am reminded of what I already know to be true. The solution exists. It’s just embedded in a way of thinking that hasn’t been thought of yet. Let’s keep at it.
Mary Pat Champeau is the Director of Education at IHE and faculty at Valparaiso University and has been an educator for more than 30 years. She has an M.A. in English from New York University. She has been a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa, and has supervised teacher training programs in Southeast Asian refugee camps in Indonesia and Thailand. Before moving to Maine in 1994, she worked for organizations serving refugee populations and coordinated English language and American culture programs for the World Trade Institute in New York City. She currently lives in Maine with her husband George, son Liam, daughters Claire and Jing Hui Fan, and numerous animal friends.
I am an Igbo from Anambra State Nigeria, West Africa, who immigrated to the United States and have lived and been educated on both continents. I have a B.S. in Elementary Education; an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction; a Ph.D. in Cultural Foundations and Policy Studies; and a School Administrative and Supervision Certificate.
Being a professional educator is my vocation and life calling, spanning more than 20 years of varied domestic and international work experiences as an elementary school teacher, education professor, school administrator, and scholar. I have core proficiencies in teaching (elementary, middle school, and university level), training, school district administrative leadership and management, cultural diversity and intercultural competence, community engagement, coalition building, educational research, curriculum development, and policy.
My passion and zeal is to serve, lead, and advocate for equity and access of education to improve the quality of life for culturally diverse and marginalized populations. By so doing, I am steadfast in building, mobilizing, and managing strong educational partnerships and coalitions involving community stakeholders and leaders across various governmental agencies and organizations domestically and internationally for outcomes that empowers children, families, and communities.
I am particularly skilled in designing and implementing innovative programs, curricular models, projects, and initiatives, as well as building and managing various coalitions across agencies at the local, state, federal, and international level to accomplish measurable deliverables. I am committed to using my passion and zeal to develop educational models as proactive tools for capacity building and sustainable development through transformative policies and practices both domestically and internationally.
Since I was very young, I have always wanted to engage in work that improves the quality of lives of others, both locally and globally, in a direct and meaningful way.
The common thread of my career has been working in educational and nonprofit venues, both in the United States and overseas, providing authentic and experiential learning opportunities that empower individuals — from students to mature adults — to thrive, using their passions and talents to make a difference in their communities and beyond.
I have deep respect for the active role IHE plays in nurturing positive agents of social, environmental and community change in ways that do the most good with the least amount of harm to people, animals and our earth.
What I’ve learned and experienced of IHE’s vision and mission resonates with my beliefs and values. Reading Zoe Weil’s books and listening to her talks fuels my desire to be a better person and an agent of change, and to make choices that truly reflect my values.
One of my favorite tenets in IHE’s teachings is that ”one person can do so much, but there’s so much more you can do by educating others.”
I believe the work of IHE is a strong and important force behind efforts to “change the DNA” of our educational system, this notion of disruptive innovation in education. Through the disruption of our classrooms, and curricula designed and customized through the positive lens of humane education, I believe that transformation is well underway.
Kim Childs is the office and program support manager at IHE. She spent more than two years studying anthropology and sociology at the University of Vermont in Burlington. She also spent a year in Egypt, studying at the Arabic Language Institute at the American University in Cairo, followed by a term of Middle East studies. Kim holds a B.A. in international affairs with a minor in anthropology from the University of Maine in Orono.
In past years, Kim worked for the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in mid-coast Maine and is also an alumna of three of its programs.
For several years, Kim led cultural and educational tours primarily in the Middle East, but also in the United States, Canada and Europe. This work led to the founding of her own educational travel company, which she operated with her husband for several years.
In recent years, Kim has worked in Maine in the areas of public health and geriatric social work. Before joining IHE, she worked at the College of the Atlantic in the Office of Institutional Development in Bar Harbor. She currently lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, Doug, son Gabriel, daughter Isabella and a rescued racing greyhound named Chester.
Caroline “Callie” Curtis is Executive Director of the Dorothy Ann Foundation, a small foundation that gives grants to international non-profit organizations working in public health, environment, sustainable forestry, and energy issues.
“You are a really good guess speaker.”
This comment is from a 9th grader following a workshop about consumerism. I like the comment a lot. At first I had a good chuckle at the typo, but then I realized that being a “guess” speaker—one who promotes guessing, imagination, and critical thinking—is exactly what I hope to achieve.
Humane education was not my original career path. Far from it. I chose a career path which reflected another passion: fashion. After college, I became a fashion coordinator for a women’s wear designer. While I loved many aspects of my job, I slowly found myself making choices that conflicted with my own sense of ethics. Day by day, my professional decisions violated my personal principles. The day I was asked to include fur in a fashion show, was the day I made the decision to quit.
While I took what I thought would be a brief rest from fashion, I began volunteering in the education department at a humane society in Philadelphia. Ultimately I was hired as Director of Humane Education where I had the pleasure of working with Zoe Weil, who later went on to co-found the Institute for Humane Education (IHE). Thus, my humane education career began, almost by accident. A very happy accident.
In 1998, I decided to pursue my master’s in humane education and contacted dozens of graduate schools around the country. I quickly discovered that no such program existed and none of the graduate schools in education had even heard of the term humane education. Out of necessity, I cobbled together my own version of a master’s in humane education at the University of Pennsylvania.
In light of the challenges that I faced pursuing a master’s degree in humane education, it is a particular joy to be on the faculty of the nation’s first humane education master’s program. What a privilege! What fun!
Simply put, I can’t imagine not being a humane educator. Choosing a humane education approach in all I do is the key ingredient to leading my solutionary life and one that is positive, purposeful, and productive.
Melissa Feldman is on the faculty of IHE and Valparaiso University and has been a humane educator since 1985. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s of education degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in 1980 and 1991, respectively. Melissa has been a humane educator for the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, Grey2KUSA, Peace Games, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the Women’s Humane Society. For the decade before joining IHE’s faculty in 2008, Melissa offered humane education programs in the Boston area through her own humane education organization and was also on the faculty at Boston University as an instructor of English as a Second Language.
I believe strongly in the power of an approach to education that helps to develop good people who will effect positive change in the world. I worked in experiential, wilderness-based education for a long time and thought that approach was “the answer” to all of our world’s challenges. Following that, I worked in k-12 education as a service-learning consultant and thought that method was “the answer” to all of our world’s challenges. I have come to understand that no one approach to education is the only answer. Having discovered humane education through IHE in recent years, I now strongly believe that teaching about the interconnectedness between human rights, animal protection, and environmental preservation is essential to any form of education if we are to address the underlying systems that lead to an unjust, inhumane and unsustainable future on our planet.
“I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an indefatigable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.”
Kurt Hahn, a philosopher and educator who founded several schools, among them, Outward Bound, spoke these words in the middle of the last century. I once thought of them as perfectly describing the essence of Outward Bound. I now see them as describing perfectly a good and essential education that we need to support/strive to create now more than ever. In fact Hahn’s words describe well the heart of IHE’s educational methods. I am excited to join this team and guide the Solutionary Congress Program.
My husband and I live and grow vegetables at our home in Portland, Maine, with our beloved dog, Enzo.
Barbara Fiore originally joined IHE’s board in 2010. She is now the Program Director for the Solutionary Congress Program, having recently resigned from Board service.
She is a native New Englander who has never lived far from the sea. She holds a B.A in English, from the University of Maine at Orono and a M.Ed. from Antioch New England Graduate School. Beginning her career in experiential education, Barbara was an Instructor and Program Director for more than fifteen years at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School where she occasionally still instructs experiential programs. She worked in k-12 schools as an education consultant with KIDS Consortium for eight years where she designed and delivered service-learning professional development, and collaborated with school district and community leadership teams as they developed policies and support to integrate and sustain service-learning as a teaching strategy.
Barbara served many years on the Board of Directors for the Watershed School in Camden, Maine as a member and Board Chair; was recently the Program Coordinator for Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation’s Nordic skiing program; and guides hiking trips in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps and Dolomite mountain ranges.
Born in 1934 in Durban, South Africa, Arun is the fifth grandson of India’s legendary leader, Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi. Growing up under the discriminatory apartheid laws of South Africa, he was beaten by “white” South Africans for being too black and “black” South Africans for being too white; so, Arun sought eye-for-an-eye justice. However, he learned from his parents and grandparents that justice does not mean revenge, it means transforming the opponent through love and suffering.
Grandfather taught Arun to understand nonviolence through understanding violence. “If we know how much passive violence we perpetrate against one another we will understand why there is so much physical violence plaguing societies and the world,” Gandhi said. Through daily lessons, Arun says, he learned about violence and about anger.
Arun shares these lessons all around the world. For the past five years, he has participated in the Renaissance Weekend deliberations with President Clinton and other well-respected Rhodes Scholars. Other engagements have included speaking at the United Nations, Chicago Children’s Museum, the Women’s Justice Center in Ann Arbor, Young President’s Organization in Mexico, the Trade Union Leaders’ Meeting in Milan, Italy, the Peace and Justice Center in St. Louis, Missouri, The Scottish Parliament and many more. Arun’s travels have also take him across the world to Australia, Croatia, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Lithuania, Nicaragua, South Africa, China, Scotland, England, Japan and many others. He is also a very popular speaker on college campuses. Arun has now spoken at Universities and Colleges in all 50 states of the USA.
Arun is very involved in social programs and writing, as well. Shortly after Arun married his wife Sunanda, they were informed the South African government would not allow her to accompany him there. Sunanda and Arun decided to live in India, and Arun worked for 30 years as a journalist for The Times of India. Together, Arun and Sunanda started projects for the social and economic uplifting of the oppressed using constructive programs, the backbone of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. The programs changed the lives of more than half a million people in over 300 villages and they still continue to grow. Sunanda died in February of 2007 and the family is working to establish a school in poorest rural India in her name.
Arun is the author of several books. The first, A Patch of White (1949), is about life in prejudiced South Africa; then, he wrote two books on poverty and politics in India; followed by a compilation of M.K. Gandhi’s Wit & Wisdom. He also edited a book of essays on World Without Violence: Can Gandhi’s Vision Become Reality? And, more recently, wrote The Forgotten Woman: The Untold Story of Kastur, the Wife of Mahatma Gandhi, jointly with his late wife Sunanda.
John Taylor Gatto is an educator and author, has received numerous teaching awards, and writes and speaks on educational reform.
Caryn Ginsberg has more than 20 years experience helping businesses and non-profits improve results through better strategy and marketing. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and leading animal protection organizations such as the ASPCA, Farm Sanctuary, The Humane Society of the United States and PetSmart Charities.
When I was a young child, most of my family fled from Iran because they were members of the Baha’i Faith, a faith whose members suffer persecution, imprisonment, and even death for their beliefs. After the 1979 political revolution in Iran, the state court considered basic Baha’i beliefs such as the equality of women and men as “spreading corruption on earth.” Bahai’s in influential positions such as teachers were fired and even to this day, Baha’is are barred from pursuing higher education.
Witnessing organized oppression emboldened my commitment to democratic education and global citizenship. I was raised to appreciate the “unity in diversity” of humankind and to see humans as stewards of the earth and all its inhabitants. It was not until I pursued higher education that I realized global injustices such as world hunger, intolerance, and environmental degradation are not simply due to scarcity of resources, technology, or know-how, but to a lack of collective will to see the interconnections between all beings. As poetically stated by Charlotte Brontë, “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.” Thus, I dedicated my life to transformative humane education.
As I studied, taught, researched, and worked with non-profit organizations, universities, and grassroots organizations, I broadened my framework for social change. I perceived the power of transformative education to release latent potentialities of people to analyze their reality through critical thinking, raised critical consciousness, and action for social change. For instance, even though Iranian Baha’is are prohibited from access to higher education in their own country, they have transcended this limitation through transnational collaboration with non-Persian universities eager to provide access to higher education for this marginalized population through online courses.
I see education as a force that enables us to read the “word” (text), problematize the “world” (context), and obtain a new consciousness to change it. In his book, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Freire explained that oppressed populations arrive at a raised consciousness about their role as agents of change by first critically analyzing the causes of oppression, “so that through transforming action they can create a new situation, one which makes possible the pursuit of a fuller humanity.” While there are numerous ways to conceptualize the path to social and environmental justice, I conduct my work with the premise that there is no “us” and no “them.” Whatever our outer labels may be, we are inextricably linked to one another and will see a more just and peaceful society when we learn to function as one ecological family.
Chitra Golestani co-founded the Paulo Freire Institute (PFI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and is a PFI Research Associate, educator, and educational consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Science and Comparative Education from UCLA and a Master’s in Education from University of California, Santa Barbara. Locally, her research with PFI explores the question: What motivates educators to employ an integrative pedagogical approach to social change? Her dissertation, “Teaching for Social Justice and Global Citizenship,” conducted in Los Angeles, explored how teachers employ best practices to effectively engage students in learning about social justice through dialogue in an integrative way. Nationally, her research on student engagement took her to various schools on the East and West Coast with UCLA’s CRESST. Internationally, she has conducted research on sustainable social, economic, and environmental development projects in Latin America and Africa. Presently, she teaches courses and lectures on various topics including human rights, social change, diversity, conflict resolution, global citizenship, social and environmental justice, and conscious living. She is engaged in numerous grass-roots programs aimed at raising students’ capacity to play their unique role as “solutionaries” for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable planet.
Paul C. Gorski is an associate professor of Integrative Studies in George Mason University’s School of Integrative Studies, where he teaches classes such as Poverty, Wealth, and Inequality; Social Justice Education; Social Justice Consciousness and Personal Transformation; and Contemporary Issues in Social Justice and Human Rights. He recently led the design and development of the new Social Justice and Human Rights undergraduate and graduate programs. Paul is a Senior Research Fellow for the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being and is serving his third term on the board of the International Association for Intercultural Education. He has been an active consultant, presenter, and trainer for nearly twenty years, conducting workshops and providing guidance for schools and community organizations committed to equity and diversity. He created and continues to manage the Multicultural Pavilion, an award-winning Web site focused on critical multicultural education. He has published more than 50 articles and eight books, focusing most recently on topics like poverty and educational opportunity, racial equity, and activist resiliency. He also has taught for the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, Hamline University, and the Humane Society University. He lives in Virginia with his cat, Buster.
Christopher Greenslate graduated with his Master of Education in Humane Education from IHE in 2008. He is in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies doctoral program at Vanderbilt University and a Research Assistant at Vanderbilt. Christopher also is co-author of the book, On a Dollar a Day.
Steven J. Gross, Ph.D., is a psychologist and non-profit leader in the arts.
Hans Hageman is a social entrepreneur. He has developed visionary solutions to improve education from Harlem to India. Hans grew up in Spanish Harlem, New York. His home was Exodus House, a pioneering residential drug treatment center started by his father.
Hans’s parents were his first teachers in the importance of service to others. He went on to attend Princeton University and Columbia University School of Law. After law school, he went on to work as a prosecutor, chief counsel to a U.S. Senate subcommittee and as a defense attorney. In the early 1990s, he shifted his mission to work
In the early 1990s, he shifted his mission to work with children who had been underserved by the education establishment. This led to his founding of the East Harlem School at Exodus, an independent school that predated charter legislation in New York. His work there was honored with an Essence Magazine award and the Robin Hood Foundation
His work there was honored with an Essence Magazine award and the Robin Hood Foundation Heroes Award, among others. It also brought him national media coverage from CNN, the New York Times, People Magazine, and the major television networks.
Hans went on to found two more schools. One school worked with teens who had left the public education system. Those students learned about the wider world through activities like desert survival training with Boulder Outdoor Survival School and First Responder training. They furthered their real-world learning with service projects to Ghana, Senegal, and Nicaragua.
The other school was for poor Hindu and Muslim girls at the primary/elementary levels in India. During this time Hans also worked with major metropolitan police departments to improve their communications with the local communities.
In 2014, he became the interim Executive Director for Jitegemee, Inc., a program that works with homeless children in Kenya. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Children of Conservation (CofC). CofC supports sanctuaries for chimpanzees, gorillas, and elephants in Africa. It does this in large part by addressing the roots of poverty in the local communities. Extreme poverty in these communities leads to poaching and environmental destruction.
Hans’s time in the Army Reserve, training as a Reiki master, Ashtanga yoga teacher training under David Swenson and his certification training in Permaculture Design through PRI, all inform his approach to the work.
Stephanie Hanner joined the IHE board in 2014. Stephanie is the community engagement officer at Spectrum Generations, the Central Maine Area Agency on Aging. Previously she was communications manager at Sweetser, a statewide community mental health agency located in Maine. Stephanie is a graduate of the Institute for Civic Leadership’s Emerging Leaders program and has experience developing strategic communications, media and branding strategies in areas of nonprofit, finance, resort management, executive search and education. Stephanie received Master of Arts degrees in public and corporate communication and in diplomacy and international relations, both from Seton Hall University, and a degree in Public Relations from the State University of New York at Oswego. She lives in Bowdoinham with her partner, Liam.
Randi Hogan joined IHE’s board in 2016. Randi brings more than 20 years of experience successfully guiding national and international nonprofit organizations in developing and expanding philanthropic resources and programmatic impact. As Maine Director of Philanthropy with The Trust for Public Land, she is dedicated to developing relationships with philanthropists and attracting resources to create parks and protect land for people. Previously, Randi was executive director of Playworks Maryland and led resource development strategy at Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, ActionAid, Vital Voices Global Partnership and Grameen Foundation. Randi earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and has been credentialed as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). She is a member of the Psi class of Lift 360’s ICL Leadership Intensive in Maine, an active Sierra Club member, and a former board member of Maryland Nonprofits and the Center for Watershed Protection. She lives in Scarborough, Maine.
Neil Hornish joined IHE’s board in 2012. Neil is co-founder and director of education of the Compassionate Living Project, a humane education organization which creates and implements classroom projects for schools grades 4 through college. He produced a public access TV show “Animal Matters” for 10 years and Chaired the Conservation Commission in Granby, Connecticut. A Systems Integration Project Engineer at United Technologies Aerospace Systems, Neil is an alumnus of IHE, receiving his M.Ed. from Cambridge College in 2005. Prior to his M.Ed., he received an M.B.A. with a concentration in Environmental Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a B.S. in Mechanical Design from the University of Connecticut. Neil lives in Granby, Connecticut.
Stacy Hoult-Saros joined IHE’s board in 2017. She is Associate Professor of Spanish and Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Valparaiso University. She holds degrees from Millikin University, the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Chicago. Stacy brings 28 years of college-level teaching experience, including courses that explore environmental and human rights issues in Latin America. She completed the Graduate Certificate in Humane Education in 2015 and has focused much of her recent scholarship on intersections between humane education and language teaching. She has lead a number of committees and task forces and played an active role in diversity and inclusion initiatives at the University and in her adopted home of Valparaiso, IN, where she lives with her husband, teenage son and two 18-year-old cats.
Mike Johnston is currently head of school at Colegio Maya in Guatemala. He has lead workshops and keynoted for teachers and administrators around the world on sustainability, global curriculum K-12 and how service learning should not just be what you do, but who you are as a school. As a member of the Compass Education team he is part of a growing community of passionate educators aiming to equip schools as learning communities to educate and act for a sustainable future. He has dedicated much of his time to not only ensuring students are properly prepared for the world’s most pressing issues but that they have the skills and desire to take action. With his Doctorate in Organizational Systems Mike helps to inspire and lead schools through times of change and educational transformation.
Jon Kilik is the producer of many award-winning films such as The Hunger Games, Dead Man Walking, and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. He has produced over 30 other features by directors such as Oliver Stone, Jim Jarmusch, Julian Schnabel, Robert De Niro, Tim Robbins, and Gary Ross. He has received two Golden Globe awards and an Oscar nomination. Jon is a graduate of the University of Vermont where he studied film under Frank Manchel, Vivian Sobcheck, and Kim Warden.
Sandra Kleinman, Ed.D, is a national and international educational consultant with more than four decades of experiences intersecting multiple disciplines: culture, diversity, and global-mindedness in education, language and literacy development, curriculum design and inquiry-based pedagogical practices, formative and performance-based assessment, learner variability, and developmental neuropsychology. Weaving together these multiple perspectives has been a cornerstone of her professional work as a leader, teacher, mentor, professional educator, researcher, advocate, clinician, and program designer—in a wide variety of settings: higher education; PreK-12 schools; clinical settings; and, humanitarian, arts, and education nonprofit organizations. Sandy’s knowledge of how the mind develops frames her understanding of how students learn and how to apply that understanding to the design of equitable and humane educational practices. Like so many who are drawn to the mission and vision of the Institute for Humane Education and the New York City Solutionary School, Sandy is committed to the power of education to guide learners to reshape the world of the future through equitable, actionable solutions.
Don Levy is the founder of Smith Brook Farm, a creative consultancy. In 2012, he left Sony Pictures Entertainment after 17 years in senior marketing and communications positions to focus on research as a visiting scholar at the University of Southern California, develop and launch a family entertainment venture, and serve on the faculty of Boston University’s Los Angeles Program. He is also active in education issues. He is a longtime member of the TED Conference, the licensee for the independently organized TEDxConejo, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and The International Photographers.
I believe that the greatest gift we can give to children is the belief they can make the world a better place. Growing up, I often felt a deep desire to make a difference in my own life and in the lives of others, but rarely felt empowered to bring about positive change in the world.
Fortunately, as an adult, I have had the opportunity to be an advocate for marginalized people and other animals. Through my work with IHE, I have developed a commitment to ensuring children and young adults gain the social-emotional, critical thinking, and leadership skills needed to become changemakers themselves.
Dana has over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit and government sectors. Dana has a Juris Doctorate and a Master’s of Public Policy, and has worked to protect and to seek justice for low-income women and children exposed to domestic violence and for animals suffering from cruelty and neglect. Two years ago, Dana graduated from IHE’s Master’s of Education-Humane Education program, and since then has volunteered with the Alumni Association Advisory Board. Dana has recently joined the Curriculum Advisory Board, and is helping to expand the ways in which IHE’s programming integrates issues of racism into its curricula. In her own community of Los Angeles, Dana also supports parents and educators in talking with young children about race and racism and other social justice issues.
Sherri Mitchell was born and raised on the Penobscot Indian reservation. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Maine, and received her Juris Doctorate and a certificate in Indigenous People’s Law and Policy from the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. Sherri is an alumna of the American Indian Ambassador program, and the Udall Native American Congressional Internship program. In 2010, she received the Mahoney Dunn International Human Rights and Humanitarian Award, for research into Human Rights violations against Indigenous Peoples. In 2015, she received the Spirit of Maine Award, for commitment and excellence in the field of International Human Rights. And, in 2016, Sherri’s portrait was added to the esteemed portrait series, Americans Who Tell the Truth, by artist Robert Shetterly.
Sherri was a longtime advisor to the American Indian Institute’s Healing the Future Program and currently serves as an advisor to the Indigenous Elders and Medicine People’s Council of North and South America. She is the Founding Director of the Land Peace Foundation, an organization dedicated to the global protection of Indigenous rights and the preservation of the Indigenous way of life. Prior to forming the Land Peace Foundation, Sherri served as a law clerk to the Solicitor of the United States Department of Interior; as an Associate with Fredericks, Peebles and Morgan Law Firm; and a civil rights educator for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, and; she was the Staff Attorney for the Native American Unit of Pine Tree Legal.
Sherri speaks and teaches around the world on issues of Indigenous rights, environmental justice, and spiritual change. Her broad base of knowledge allows her to synthesize these many subjects into a cohesive whole, weaving together the legal, political, and spiritual aspects surrounding a multitude of complex issues. Her work is being featured in an upcoming documentary film titled Dancing with the Cannibal Giant, and her first book Sacred Instructions will be in print in February of 2018. Sherri is also the cohost of the radio program Love (and revolution) Radio, which focuses on real-life stories of heart-based activism and revolutionary spiritual change
Laurie O’Reilly, Board Chair, joined IHE’s board in 2013. Laurie brings with her nearly 20 years experience in marketing, including communications strategy and implementation, branding, messaging, and digital media. She began her career in educational publishing before moving into the nonprofit conservation sector, and has spent the past 15 years working for New England’s most prominent environmental organizations, including the Appalachian Mountain Club and The Trustees of Reservations. Laurie currently manages marketing and communications for Conservation Law Foundation, which uses the law, policy, and the markets to solve New England’s most pressing environmental challenges.
Laurie’s love of the outdoors was fostered as child growing up in Maine, while her love of animals was nurtured by the various rescue animals her family adopted during her childhood. Laurie graduated with a B.A. in English from Rivier College, with a focus on communications. She lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Joaquin Phoenix is an actor, producer, music video director, musician, and activist. For his work as an artist, Phoenix has received a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award and three Academy Award nominations. Aside from his acting career, he has also ventured into directing music videos, as well as producing films and television shows. Phoenix is a social activist, lending his support to a number of charities and humanitarian organizations including Amnesty International, The Art of Elysium, and the Peace Alliance. Phoenix is also known for his animal rights activism. In 2005 he was awarded the Humanitarian Award at the San Diego Film Festival for his work and contribution to Earthlings, a video about the investigation of animal abuse in factory farms, pet mills, industry, and research.
Scott Plous is a professor of psychology at Wesleyan University, where he teaches introductory and advanced seminars on the psychology of prejudice and discrimination. He also managesUnderstandingPrejudice.org, an educational clearinghouse with over 2,000 prejudice-related web links and dozens of lesson plans, student activities, and interactive exercises.
I’ve read that every seven years our bodies — our very cells — completely renew themselves, creating a whole new us. The transformation I’ve undergone feels almost that basic, that primal. I come from a background of ignorance about the world and the impact of our choices on it. I didn’t give the way I lived my life a second thought until college. Then the changes came…slowly. I began to pay attention to the impact of my choices. First on animals and the environment. Later, on other people and cultures. And the more I paid attention to those choices, the more I saw the interconnection…and the power.
I’ve discovered so much more joy and abundance and peace in the way I live now. It can be overwhelming to think about all the suffering and despair and violence and injustice and destruction in the world. It can be tempting to give in to the “I’m just one person; what can I do?” mantra that our culture feeds us. But still, with the struggle and the loneliness and the weariness of looking through a lens that sees the suffering and destruction all around us every single day, I have never felt more powerful.
As writer and activist Frances Moore Lappe says, “Every choice we make can be a celebration of the world we want.” My life is meaningful, joyful, and full of choices each day that support and nurture a world full of love, peace, compassion, sustainability and justice. That’s powerful. That’s transforming. That’s humane education.
Marsha Rakestraw joined IHE in January 2007 as the Web Content and Community Manager, and now she serves as Director of Education Resources. She’s also a faculty member for IHE’s online courses. Most of her life experiences have led up to her career in humane education; she just didn’t know it at the time. Marsha’s background includes extensive experience teaching at the Pre-K – graduate school levels, and more than 14 years working as a youth specialist in school and public libraries.
She was a founding member of Northwest VEG in Portland, Oregon, and gives humane education presentations on a variety of topics. Marsha helped organize the first two state animal rights conferences in Ohio, and has served on the boards of vegetarian, animal protection, and spay/neuter groups in Ohio and Oregon. She and her husband have been featured in The Oregonian and other media for their dedication to humane living.
Marsha has a B.F.A. in dance and a B.A. in English from Wichita State University, an M.L.S. in Library & Information Management from Emporia State University, and received her certification in Humane Education from IHE in December 2005.
Marsha is thrilled to be working with other humane educators and helping others learn about the power of their every day choices. When not pursuing humane education projects, she likes to spend her time reading, enjoying the outdoors, doing yoga, practicing Historic European Martial Arts (HEMA), plinking on her guitar, being occasionally crafty, and hanging out at her co-housing community.
Marsha lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and swimming-obsessed dog, Nala
View Marsha’s talk at the 2009 Let Live Animal Rights Conference. The topic: Humane Education as an Essential Element of Animal Activism.
Charles “Chick” F. Rauch spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy before retiring in the rank of rear admiral. Among other duties, Chick served as Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Human Resource Development, during which time his office developed the Navy’s early programs in Race Relations and Equal Opportunity, Women’s Rights, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Rehabilitation and Control, and Cross-Cultural Relations. After a full career in the Navy, Chick made a second career in higher education. Chick holds a B.S. degree from the U. S. Naval Academy, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the U. S. Naval Postgraduate School, and M.B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from The Ohio State University.
Kathleen Roberts Skerrett was appointed University Professor at the University of Richmond in June 2016. Kathleen has held academic and administrative appointments at McGill University, Grinnell College, and University of Richmond. She most recently served as Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at University of Richmond. Skerrett has witnessed the transformative power of discovery-based pedagogies on young people’s problem-solving capabilities and responsible leadership. She earned the Ph.D. in Theology and the Modern West from Harvard University and a J.D from the Schulich School of Law. She earned her undergraduate degree at Mount Allison University in Canada. Skerrett has lectured and published numerous essays on ideas of freedom in contemporary secular and religious thinkers.
Tony Scucci, MSW, joined IHE’s board in 2012. Tony is a Senior Governance Associate at BoardSource. He has nearly 40 years experience in the nonprofit sector, providing board consultation and training, and conducting workshops on effective governance practices. In his private practice, Tony specializes in board development, executive coaching, executive leadership transitions, and team-building. His clients have included the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Association of Independent Schools, the Maine Arts Commission, the National Council of La Raza, the National Council for Urban Indian Health, the National Indian Health Board, and the Indian Health Service. He has also worked with various Somali Bantu Organizations.Tony graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and with a Masters in Social Work from Boston College. He is a Licensed Master Social Worker in the state of Maine.
Kiran Bir Sethi is the Founder/Director of The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India. She is also the founder of ‘aProCh’—an initiative to make our cities more child-friendly, for which she was awarded the Ashoka Fellow in 2008. In 2009, she received the “Call to Conscience Award” by the King Centre at Stanford.
In 2009, she founded ‘Design for Change’ (DFC) – the world’s largest movement of change – of and by children. DFC is now in 44 countries—impacting over 2.2 million children and 65,000 Teachers. In September 2011, she won the prestigious “INDEX – Design to Improve Life Award.” In June 2012, she was awarded the “Rockefeller Foundation Youth Innovation Award.” In February 2014, she received the “Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship 2013” from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Design for Change was declared Lego Foundation’s “Reimagine Learning Challenge Champion” in November 2014. In March 2015, she was amongst the Top 10 Educators, nominated for the Global Teacher Prize – instituted by the Varkey GEMS Foundation. In June 2015, Design for Change won the Commonwealth Education Good Practice Award. Kiran was conferred the Asia Game Changer 2015 Award by Asia Society in October 2015. In February, 2017 she was conferred the “Excellence in Instructional Leadership” Award at NDTV’s National Education Awards. She has been appointed as Ambassador, Vital Voices, in February, 2017 and in May, 2017, she has been nominated as a member of VVLead Fellowship, a partnership between Pond’s and Vital Voices. On 9th June, she met the Pope in the Vatican to sign an Agreement whereby D.F.C. will be introduced in over 460,000 Catholic Schools across the Globe.
Robert Shetterly was born in 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He graduated in 1969 from Harvard College with a degree in English Literature. At Harvard he took some courses in drawing which changed the direction of his creative life — from the written word to the image. Also, during this time, he was active in Civil Rights and in the Anti-Vietnam War movement.
After college and moving to Maine in 1970, he taught himself drawing, printmaking, and painting. While trying to become proficient in printmaking and painting, he illustrated widely. For twelve years he did the editorial page drawings for The Maine Times newspaper, illustrated National Audubon’s children’s newspaper Audubon Adventures, and approximately 30 books.
Robert´s paintings and prints are in collections all over the U.S. and Europe. A collection of his drawings & etchings, Speaking Fire at Stones, was published in 1993. He is well known for his series of 70 painted etchings based on William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell”, and for another series of 50 painted etchings reflecting on the metaphor of the Annunciation.
His painting has tended toward the narrative and the surreal, however, for more than ten years he has been painting the series of portraits Americans Who Tell the Truth. The exhibit has been traveling around the country since 2003. Venues have included everything from university museums and grade school libraries to sandwich shops, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City, and the Superior Court in San Francisco. To date, the exhibits have visited 26 states. In 2005, Dutton published a book of the portraits by the same name. In 2006, the book won the top award of the International Reading Association for Intermediate non-fiction.
The portraits have given Shetterly an opportunity to speak with children and adults all over this country about the necessity of dissent in a democracy, the obligations of citizenship, sustainability, US history, and how democracy cannot function if politicians don’t tell the truth, if the media don’t report it, and if the people don’t demand it.
Shetterly has engaged in a wide variety of political and humanitarian work with many of the people whose portraits he has painted. In the spring of 2007, he traveled to Rwanda with Lily Yeh and Terry Tempest Williams to work in a village of survivors of the 1994 genocide there. Much of his current work focuses on honoring and working with the activists trying to bring an end to the terrible practice of Mountaintop Removal by coal companies in Appalachia, on climate change, and on the continuation of systemic racism in the US particularly in relation to the school-to-prison pipeline.
Since 1990, he has been the President of the Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA), and a producer of the UMVA’s Maine Masters Project, an on-going series of video documentaries about Maine artists.
Robert Shetterly is an artist, author, changemaker, and creator of the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait series, which profiles historical and contemporary leaders and visionaries working for a better world.
One of my sons bought Zoe Weil’s book, Most Good, Least Harm. As he talked about it I became more and more curious. So I read the book, and it struck a chord deep inside me. I went on IHE’s website to learn more and it was there that I saw the opening for the executive director position. It felt meant to be.
I believe so strongly in the Institute for Humane Education’s approach to creating social change through education – inspiring people to become solutionaries and the important connection between human rights, animal protection, and environmental preservation.
I have tried to live a meaningful life and have devoted most of my life to helping others to grow, learn, thrive and be more positive and open-minded. I come from a strong lineage of pioneers in education and social change – between my two grandmothers and a great grandfather they started two progressive schools and one university, broke barriers for women’s rights, stood up for Jews in Germany before the war broke out, provided creative and emotional outlets for women in prisons, preserved and protected acres of woods in upstate New York, and started programs for inner city youth that still thrive today.
I look forward to helping to grow IHE’s programs and to deepen its reach and impact. Learners of all ages are seeking the tools to effect change and to make a difference in their lives, communities and the world – and that is what we offer at IHE. I am where I want to be – where raising awareness about and involving more people in IHE’s programs and resources can result in a better world for all.
Sarah Speare has leadership experience as a non-profit executive, entrepreneur and designer for social change. Most recently, she was a consultant to the non-profit Art At Work/Terra Moto in Portland, Maine, that uses strategic arts projects for social justice in municipal governments, and was an advisor to Project M in Belfast, Maine, that engages designers and creative thinkers to address global issues at the local level. From 1999 to 2009 she was the co-founder and president of Chomp Inc., a consumer foods company that was sold in 2009. Previous to that, she served as the first director of the Portland Arts and Cultural Alliance (PACA), and from 1985 to 1995 was the executive director of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD).
Sarah has also been a community design consultant to non-profits throughout New England and has served on the boards of Spiral Arts, Maine Arts, Architalx and currently serves on the board of AIGA/Maine. A graduate of Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, with a certificate in Arts Management from Radcliffe College, she has been honored with a Fellow Award from the SEGD and won an Innovation Award from the Center for Design and Business in Rhode Island.
Sarah lives in Falmouth, Maine, with her husband Michael and a very social Boxer, Hazel. They have two sons, Nicholas and Emmett, both documentary filmmakers. She sings, does Kundalini yoga, has an eye for whimsy in nature that she captures in photos, and delights in her vegan kitchen.
Diane Straus Tucker is the Publisher of the Washington Monthly.
Cynthia Trapanese is a classroom teacher in an urban Atlanta Title I public school. Her professional focus centers on weaving together humane education, arts integration, culturally relevant pedagogy, and positive learning environments. Cynthia has a Master’s degree in Humane Education, Elementary Education (PreK-5) Teaching Certification, and ESOL Endorsement. She is a Ph.D. student in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University.
Before returning to school to study education, Cynthia lived on a sailboat, worked in professional theater, directed a children’s bereavement program, and worked as a multi-faith pediatric chaplain. She currently works as a first-grade teacher at Evansdale Elementary School.
Kristine Tucker is a veteran teacher with 14 years of classroom experience. Her interest in humane education, adult learning, literacy, special education, sustainability, outdoor/experiential education, and transformative learning is indicative of her deep commitment to social change. Kristine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Master’s degree in Special Education, Teacher of the Handicapped certification, Elementary Education certification, Middle School Literacy certification, and a graduate certificate in Humane Education.
Kristine has worked as an elementary education teacher, middle school teacher, special education teacher, literacy coach/staff developer, and college professor. She is co-author of “The Literacy Leadership Handbook: Best Practices for Developing Professional Literacy Communities.” Kristine is currently in the dissertation phase of her EdD in Higher Education and Adult Learning and works as a full-time educator at Ridge and Valley Charter School.
Michael Tobias, Ph.D., is an ecologist, screenwriter, director, and the author/producer of over 25 books and 70 films.
Zoe Weil (pronounced Zoh While) is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) and is considered a pioneer in the comprehensive humane education movement that works to create a peaceful, healthy, and just world for all people, animals, and the environment through education. Zoe created IHE’s online M.Ed., M.A., and graduate certificate programs as well as IHE’s acclaimed workshops and courses.
Zoe is the author of seven books including The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries (2016), Nautilus Silver Medal winner, Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life (2009), The Power and Promise of Humane Education (2004), and Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (2003). She has also written books for young people, including Moonbeam Gold Medal winner, Claude and Medea: The Hellburn Dogs (2007), about 12-year-old activists inspired by their teacher to right wrongs where they find them, and So, You Love Animals: An Action-Packed, Fun-Filled Book to Help Kids Help Animals (1994). She has written numerous articles on humane education and humane living and has appeared frequently on radio as well as television.
In 2010, Zoe gave her first TEDx talk “The World Becomes What You Teach” which became among the 50 top-rated TEDx talks. Since then she has given five other TEDx talks: “Solutionaries” “Educating for Freedom” “How to be a Solutionary” “Extending our Circle of Compassion” and “How will you answer this question?”
Zoe speaks regularly at universities, conferences, and schools across the United States and Canada. She is a frequent keynote speaker, including at international teachers’ conferences in China and Mexico. She has served as a consultant on humane education to people and organizations around the world and has served on the board of directors of the Heroic Imagination Project and HEART, and as a steward at The Good Life Center.
In 2012 Zoe debuted her One-woman show, “My Ongoing Problems with Kindness: Confessions of MOGO Girl,” bringing humane issues to communities through entertainment. Also in 2012 she was honored with the Women in Environmental Leadership award at Unity College, and her portrait was painted by Robert Shetterly for the Americans Who Tell The Truth portrait series. Zoe was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2010.
Zoe received a Master’s in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School (1988) and a Master’s and Bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania (1983). In 2015 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Valparaiso University. Zoe is certified in Psychosynthesis counseling, a form of psychotherapy which relies upon the intrinsic power of each person’s imagination to promote growth, creativity, health, and transformation.
Lori Weir joined the board in 2016. Lori has spent most of her career in finance and issues pertaining to policy, with an expertise in foreign exchange. She began her career with a brief stint in investment banking, spent the bulk of her career working in various analytical and management capacities at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and was most recently a strategist at a small investment firm and a consultant at an education nonprofit. While at home raising her young daughters, Lori also founded a small consulting firm and carried out numerous analytic projects for large private foundations, where she gained insight into the workings of large philanthropies. She also co-founded a firm that carried out work for a Los Angeles based nonprofit focused on early childhood education, and she has been involved on a volunteer basis with strategic planning relating to innovation in her local school district, the Princeton Public Schools.
Lori is married and lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and rescue pup, Rosie. Lori enjoys running, yoga, traveling, and also being at home cooking and playing games with her kids. She earned a B.S., magna cum laude, in Economics with a concentration in International Finance and Multinational Management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in International Relations with concentrations in International Economics and American Foreign Policy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Khalif has spent more than 20 years at the nexus of education and social change, guided by the wisdom of young people and hearing their clear longing for the beloved community. His work has long been deeply informed by his contemplative practice and sense of play as a musician, poet, and artist. He most recently served as lead consultant on strategy development and implementation for the Bay and Paul Foundation’s PreK-12 Transformative Learning Practices Program, and now is the Program Director. Over the last two decades, he has created partnerships for racial equity in higher education, consulted for nonprofits and community groups on strategy and organizational development, served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Humane Education, and provided on-the-ground transformative school leadership as the Director of the Bay School. He is committed to advancing efforts to steward the public trust to transform human systems that oppress, exploit and degrade into ones that nurture, repair and protect. He is currently an eager hands-on student of relational philanthropy, learning as strategy, network resourcing, peace, fatherhood, and zen meditation.
Philip G. Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University, is a scholar, educator & researcher. He’s well-known for his Stanford Prison Experiment research and as the author of many books, including The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.