Author: Ron Rapatalo

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In season one of Ronderings, Ron talks to his guests about their superpowers, including career advice, diversity, mindset, wellness, and leadership. Ron grew up in New York City, and has been coaching and leading executive searches for the last five years, taking what he has learned from 15 years in corporate, higher education, government, and non-profit contexts. He and his wife are obsessed with reality television, and Ron also moonlights as a men's personal stylist and group fitness instructor. Ron says, "I believe in the power of intuition and deepening one’s self-awareness and impact on others. I believe in the power of connection and transparency. I believe that we must dismantle systems of oppression and racism to recover our fullest humanity. Most of all, I believe our power to change the world starts from changing ourselves first."
37 Episodes
Jen Chau Fontan, a certified somatic coach, works towards helping people recreate the spaciousness that they already have.Living in Westchester, NY, after working within NYC nonprofits in management and talent/HR positions, Jen Chau Fontan transitioned into full-time coaching as an executive coach to senior leaders of progressive sector organizations through The Management Center, where she serves as an adjunct coach today. Jen created her practice, JCF Coaching, in 2018. Jen shares how she had many responsibilities in her early life, which gave her amazing experience in creating a culture and spaces for people to be happy.  With a gift for feeling people in somatic coaching, Jen explains how getting back to our bodies and finding time to work on the thing that is most important to our core is the essence of us humans.Family and circumstances around us, including culture and community, shape us; we are always practicing something, and we have to be aware of what it is that we are practicing.Notes:🌺 Jen had many responsibilities while growing up: HR, culture, and creating spaces for people to be happy. 04:00🔝 Limitations in DEI work always come from the top: becoming a coach and helping CEOs grow their leadership. 05:10🤩 Nurture and nature of Jen’s family: being tuned in with all of her family, and dynamics that helped her in her new company. 07:26🪞 Ron’s mom had a specific gift: Jen’s gift for feeling people in somatic coaching. 11:15⚡ Feeling people through Zoom is possible: picking up so many things in front of us. 14:19☯️ Ron’s spiritual coach, Julie Chan: all dimensions of knowledge and wisdom around us. 16:23🤓 What is somatic coaching: personal training for the most important thing you want to be. 17:40🤖 Getting us back to our bodies: how capitalism and racism are making us robotic - there is wisdom in the body.  19:43🫱🏾‍🫲🏼 What is great about being White, Black, Latinx, or Asian: the embodiment explains so many human characteristics.  23:47😇 Shaping stories from family, institutions, and communities: gender, race, and culture shape us.  27:03😍 Jen and Ron worked six years together in New Leaders: passion, love, and respect for the cause. 29:01🎳 Bowling matches during New Leaders: competitive and fun team building and socializing. 32:31💎 Jen’s RONderings: What are you practicing right now - we are always practicing something, so be aware of what. 35:39Links:Connect with Jen: practice with Jen - "Easy Mondays": up for a coaching consult: Jen's Instagram:
We need to think more about living with intention and growing old gracefully. Risa Morimoto is the Founder and CEO of Modern Aging and Dream Retirement in Mexico.  She focuses on holistic health practices and lifestyles to optimize longevity for people in midlife. She is also an award-winning TV and documentary producer/director.  She has directed over 200 episodes of House Hunters International and other programs for HGTV, Animal Planet, A&E, Hulu and others. In our society, we are not creating a safe space for conversations around aging and health. Risa discovered the importance of finding the root causes of health issues rather than just treating symptoms. Being a woman of color and having perspectives of multicultural living brought her to the conclusion of how Eastern and Western medicines, combined, can provide answers for healthier lives. Her personal story about taking care of her parents led her to her life purpose and to help others to be healthier. Living in gratitude, resilience, and understanding that only small actions can lead to a more fulfilling life are the gems Risa is sharing with the audience. Bio-individuality and not a cookie-cutter approach to health care and wellness is the future if we want to have healthy and happy people. Humans are living beings who need to be looked as a whole. Grinding systems are not a good place to create healthy habits and meaningful change around health care and aging. What is the point of living until 100 if you are going to be sick all the time? Joy, meaningful connections, air, food, genes, habits, work, stress, personal growth, and time for self-care all have an important role in our lives. In order to live your life without regret, don’t forget to focus energy on meaningful pursuits.Show notes: 🎬 Risa is a filmmaker, a podcaster, and a documentarian: helping the start of Asian/Pacific/American Studies at NYU. 01:07🌸 Art was not a realistic pathway for Risa back then: film school at NYU. 02:59❤️‍🩹 Heart attack that made a change: what is the impact she wanted to leave behind? 04:14⚠️ Stress is at the core of so many illnesses: all the things that bring us down. 07:58⚡ The power of joy and feeling safe: Modern Aging - healthier aging process. 09:37🧓🏻 Resilience and gratitude her mom had in sickness: documentary series on Asian-American families and caregiving. 15:44😇 Living up to 100, but being sick all the time: hustle and work can’t help you age gracefully. 22:40🎯 Western medicine vs Eastern medicine: marrying both and finding roots of the diseases -  holistic health. 27:17🤓 How identities get put into policies that are created: creating safe spaces for people of color and need for shifting things. 31:22🧠 Mindset changes and habits are making it work: wellness and a personalized approach to it. 34:05🏃🏻‍♀️ Working out after 14 hours of filming and Ron’s workout habits. 38:08😍 Producing House Hunters: filmmaking and traveling to many places. 41:26🙏 Risa’s hodgepodge projects: appreciating your life to move in it meaningfully.  47:58💎 Risa’s RONdering: Living without regret - we are not limitless, so beware of where you are focusing your energy. 49:44.🥅 Don’t let other people define you: do what makes you happy. 51:41Links:Modern Aging:  thisismodernaging.comGet Strong Over 40: getstrongover40.comDream Retirement in Mexico: www.dreamretirementinmexico.comRapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron: 
There is power in living life in community; no one is superhuman.Mary Rice-Boothe, Ed.D., currently serves as Executive Director, Curriculum Development and Equity at the NYC Leadership Academy. She has had the opportunity to partner withschool systems across the country to support them in implementing their equity policies, as well as supporting the development of equity-focused resources for district-levelleaders looking to name and dismantle the inequitable practices they are seeing at theschool and district levels. Mary holds a BA in Metropolitan Studies from New York University, an MA in English and English Education from the City College of New York, and a Doctorate Degree in Leadership and Organizational Change from the University of Southern California, and has written Leading Within Systems of Inequity in Education: A Liberation Guide for Leaders of Color.The challenge we are all faced with is the question of, how do we take care of ourselves, physically and spiritually, but also emotionally. This is not something that can be achieved alone, we have to look further into community, allowing ourselves to learn from those around us; correlation is key.Nurturing ourselves will only be possible with the help of others!Show notes:🌞 Ron and Mary have so much in common: concentric circles in New Leaders, K12 education, and NYU. 02:00🧔🏾‍♀️ The low expectations that were put on women in three generations: a story of the cotton fields of Arkansas. 03:28👩🏾‍🏫 Experiencing education in practice in college: after-school nonprofit world and becoming a teacher. 08:22📙 Mary wrote a book: practical advice and examples for those who want to dismantle the system and create a more equitable space. 11:27😇 Liberation guide: competencies that are a framework for the book, divided into three sections. 15:54⚡ Being a principal of a school is a lonely job: the power of being in a community. 19:12🏆 Mary’s circles of champions; she has multiple of those: nurturing yourself with the help of others. 22:54🏃🏾‍♀️ Running marathons: Mary’s first marathon and creating time for herself and her body.  25:10🌸 How do you take care of yourself physically, spiritually, and emotionally? 30:13😍 Building systems of wellness in K-12 education: creating space for your team to feel good. 34:36⚠️ Equity and leadership development: not all teams are working in witness times and hours. 38:11🤓 Her book as retention strategy: a framework for liberation to happen. 40:25💎 Mary’s RONdering: Power of doing things together - you are not a superhuman. 42:04🤔 Individual thinking and rise and grind culture is not a pathway to real, healthy success. 44:53Links:Purchase book: Sign-up for newsletter: LinkedIn: Partner- website: 
Leadership can be a lonely place, especially for folks of color.Ron Summers is the CEO of a non-profit focused on providing equitable access to careers in technology.  He is a leader with a vision of guaranteeing every K-12 student access to computer science and computational thinking. Ron has dedicated his life to advancing CS exposure, access, and inclusion for Black, brown, and female students and he shares his leadership experience, especially for people of color, and emphasizes the importance of self-care and authenticity as two main pillars of good leadership.Ron's journey from web designer to CEO of a non-profit is filled with resilience and determination. Raised in Queens and Brooklyn within a family of educators, Ron's path was shaped by his desire to create, but he encountered very early with microaggressions, inequity, and being the only Black kid in the IT classroom. Ron and Ron are discussing why adaptability, mindfulness, and holistic self-care are important for leadership roles. Why balance between entrepreneurship and family responsibility is the key to a good and healthy leader. Good leaders are always the transformative power that makes this world a better place especially if it is rooted in authenticity and empathy for their community. Notes:👦🏾 Black and proud: kid from Queens who grew up in Brooklyn within a family of teachers. 02:06💻 Ron wanted to create websites: in a college, Ron was the only black young man and he experienced microaggression. 04:41🤓 Getting a gig in IBM at 19: why Ron decided to become an educator. 06:59🌞 Black kids lack opportunities: filling gaps and helping young black people get in tech and stay there. 09:48💥 Creative people in Ron’s life and tech: ‘Artists are engineers’. 11:55🔥 Starting as a substitute teacher in NYC: the important step before teaching is figuring out the rhythm for a classroom to make it work. 17:48🏆 His circle of champions and influencers: every human requires accommodations. 20:13✌🏾 Challenges and losses are needed for wins: taking losses to make the world a better place. 22:59💪🏾 Being a Black leader and running non-profits: nothing is linear - keep fighting for kids to have a pathway of experiences.  29:22😍 Having a supportive partner and help from a network of like-minded people: when we all win.  34:123️⃣ Three leadership lessons he learned: prioritize adaptability, being thoughtful and taking care of your self to care for others. 37:54😎 Entrepreneur’s mindset, athlete's body, and an artist's soul:  learning from Gen Z and showing up for yourself.  47:36💎 Ron’s RONdering: listen to your body, mind, and soul while being in tech or building your own company. 49:13⚠️ Sacrifice for your family: being a workaholic but be careful because it can take a toll. 51:34⚡ Creating equitable access and implementing it. 54:34Connect with Ron: 
 Everybody deserves to walk down the street and feel safe.James Solomon represents downtown Jersey City as the Ward E Councilperson. As a dad, a cancer survivor, a teacher, and someone who leads from the outside, James is committed to making Jersey City a place that supports ALL families, not just the well-connected.City government is directly connected to people, and helping them is key to making the world a better place. The lesson, or the value that matters most, is always putting family first. As a politician, James finds himself pulled in different directions, but the driving factor for him is always that family comes first.Solving small problems first, with immediate effect, allows people to trust you and begin a relationship where there previously was none. Show Notes 🤩 James tried to be happy outside of NJ, but it didn’t work: he developed a passion for city government in his late teens. 02:22💊 After a lymphoma diagnosis and remission, James got elected in 2017: he wanted to have a family and became a dad. 04:06👨‍💼 Cora Alumni days in St. Louis: learning tools to keep you grounded. 06:25⚡ People on the streets are pulling him aside to help them: James is able to have an impact and push some things in government to make lives better. 08:28🌞 Strategic and personal reasons behind his responsiveness: city government is directly connected to people, and helping them is the key.  11:35📱 Mayor Booker’s ways of serving people: using Twitter and fixing things. 15:32👨‍🏫 James is an adjunct professor: ideas and comments from students are very valuable for him. 17:02🏘️ The core thing is housing and gentrification: initiatives and policies James worked on and bad systems that need to change.  19:30🤓 How do people acquire power and how they use it: the drive behind political life. 24:09✌️ New Your City’s policies vs New Jersey policies: revitalizing communities and not accepting money from NJ real estate developers. 27:40👉 Real estate is the dominant player in Jersey City: ways to push back.  32:08🏈 Fantasy football is James's passion: he won the championship last year.  34:37😎 Steelers fan in New Jersey and Patriots domination: Tom Brady, I just want to hate you. 36:38💎 James’ RONdering: Always put family first. 42:00📌 Childcare is expensive: policies for thriving families. 44:38😇 James built a large donor base that's outside the political establishment. 46:07 Links Link to donate - with James: www.solomonforjc.comRapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron: 
 Each person is the director of his or her own life, and even in the face of the most challenging obstacles, is capable of shaping and painting an extraordinary life.Catapulting us on a journey of perseverance and resilience is Joselyn Martinez, a NYC-based business consultant and certified neuro coach specializing in entrepreneurship. A spokesperson for personal tragedy, she shares with us the challenge of solving the mystery of her father’s murder, as well as her success in entertainment and music as a member of an all-female band.Her mission? To help, empower women and to shape the lives of their dreams.Creativity takes many forms, and Joselyn’s experiences teach us the value of embracing the creative spirit in all aspects of life. Hers is a story of exploration and self-discovery: the brain’s ability is to change and adapt, and understanding it can foster personal growth and overcome fears. Those seeking to transform their lives will find tangible hope and encouragement.Accept the diversity of your experiences and find strength in the uniqueness of your path. Be open to discovery, authenticity, and creativity.Every step forward, no matter how tiny, contributes to your transformation! Show notes:🌟 Joselyn loves Mondays and new beginnings. 01:25💔 Lost her father in street violence in NY: perseverance and not making a decision based on counselor's opinion: 03:56⚖️ Moving on or putting your trauma on hold: Joselyn started to pursue justice for her murdered father. 08:48🔍 Murder crimes can’t go unnoticed or remain unsolved. 12:09🕵🏻‍♀️ Finding the man who murdered her father: 25 years after the day, she slept well.  13:20🎤 Experience in Las Chicas del Can: stage presence and public speaking practice. 18:07🎬 After NYU, she pursued acting and commercial work: doubling for Jennifer Lopez in her movies. 22:34🧠 Neuro coaching: learning how your brain works to boost productivity and change your habits. 24:29🤔 Understand yourself: certain areas of your brain govern your emotions.  28:10🔄 Neuroplasticity in our brain is showing us we can change a lot even when we are old. 33:39🗓️ The Modern Woman Planner and Mastermind course: Joselyn’s plans for her business.  35:21🎨 Power of creativity while having joy and impact: we are all creatives. 39:10🏃‍♀️ Movement and cognition: meaning exists in our bodies, and movement strengthens ideas. 40:17💎 Joselyn’s RONdering: you can design your life as you please. 42:30Links:Connect: Check: Rapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron: 
 Stories are the threads that weave the fabric of our identities, embracing our cultural roots, shaping our resilience, and illuminating the transformative power within us all.Rudy Valdez, a two-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, shares his remarkable journey, triumphing over adversities such as homelessness while underlining the underlying value of embracing one’s cultural heritage and identity. His success isn’t just about luck or money: it’s about love, passion, and a strong cultural background.The conversation is a goldmine of insights into how personal stories and cultural background shape the way we tell stories. Valdez spills the beans on how facing challenges is often a key ingredient in making meaningful art.There’s a call to action here: empower new filmmakers and make sure that underrepresented voices are heard loud and clear in the world of storytelling.Tune in, feel inspired, and let’s take steps together to champion diverse storytelling. Your action today could pave the way for a more inclusive and empathetic tomorrow. Let’s make it happen! Notes💥 Appreciate all the wonderful things around us: people of color can just be great without an asterisk. 02:22👦🏽 Wrestling on the beach: jujitsu, storytelling, and childhood memories. 07:52⚡ Lessons from his brother: high school struggles and one special improvisation in drama class. 09:55🎭 Drama class as refuge place from the rough life: finding support from his family. 19:43🚌 Writing 5–7 stories a day: creating his own game to writing stories. 24:39🥥 ‘Coconut’ comedy show: a breakthrough in performing, teaching, and writing comedy. 28:56🎥 A family issue that alters Rudy’s life: the moment he becomes a filmmaker. 31:29🌞 Who cares?: sharing stories to evoke empathy, and Sundance Audience Award. 36:30🎬 Learning from sets: Rudy’s formula for filming. 38:49⚖️ Documentary The Sentence: taking risks, failing, and learning from it. 41:53🥊 Documentary by Sylvester Stallone: Hollywood to produce crime movies. 44:06🤩 Deciding not to limit himself to criminal justice films: Rudy created 17 documentaries. 45:55😇 Sharing experiences: letting others learn from personal stories. 51:55💎 Rudy’s RONderings: Believe in yourself, your voice matters, and push for positive change. 54:19🎦 Carlos Santana movie and Disney projects: pushing everyone up the hill is crucial. 56:06  LINKSConnecting with Rudy: www.rudyvaldez.comRapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron: 
Your story is the single most powerful thing you own. Embrace it, share it, and watch the world transform around you.Renowned for her ability to empower leaders to unleash their full potential, Stephanie Zhong is a brand strategist and storytelling specialist with over 20 years of experience. Her journey spans diverse sectors, from non-profits to civic organizations, and her passion lies in helping individuals authentically amplify their presence.Despite cultural norms that often discourage self-promotion, Steph finds curiosity and strength in the field of storytelling — a field she has passionately embraced and recognized the transformative potential that lies in owning one’s narrative and voice.Her unwavering commitment to unlocking leaders’ potential has shaped her mission to create spaces where personal narratives may grow without being constrained by social standards.Steph’s message is clear and important: own your narrative, embrace your voice, and acknowledge the vast possibilities within your own story. Together, let’s create a transformative culture where storytelling serves ad a catalyst for personal growth, empowerment, and the celebration of our rich unique human experiences.🗣️ Your voice matters: we are connecting through our unique stories. 01:39🥰 Loving shouting: from Hamilton musical to cherished family stories. 03:00🤐 Stephanie is a story strategist: Chinese and Japanese cultures have similar rules about not talking about yourself. 05:55👧🏻 Navigating identity: growing up as an Asian girl in white communities in Philadelphia, straddling multiple realities. 09:02🌞 Having artsy parents who didn’t pursue math or science mold for Stephanie: knowing the history and stories of your people can show you why the whole community acts in one way. 16:02🥰 Social justice coded in Stephanie: her mom was the first feminist and librarian, and her parents believed all people are equal. 18:48🤓 Being a bridge: seeking communities of difference, learning from them, and finding common ground. 24:45😇 Breaking barriers and connecting with people: using storytelling to claim the truth. 28:28🦸🏻‍♀️ We are all the superheroes of our own story: the importance of embracing and valuing one’s unique strengths and talents, even in branding. 30:37🌳 Visualizing strength like a sequoia tree and being rooted in yourself and not in outside success: moving with the wind but not cracking up. 38:37☯️ Spiritual journeys, intuition, and decision-making in business: symbols, feelings and having unusual talents. 43:46🧘🏻‍♀️ Being in business and having 6th and 7th sense feelings and how to share that in the business world. 46:08💥 Building space without being in front of each other is an understanding of how to manifest energy. 50:20🤩 Physical and energetic alignment of your values: energy changes when you say something out loud to another human. 53:00💎 Stephanie’s RONdering: the thing that is “too weird” for the world is your brilliance. 57:11🎤 Great karaoke songs with specific messages. 58:05📽️ Free video series: Double Down on Your Difference. 1:00:04Links:Attend the free Brand Your Brilliance Masterclass with Stephanie: www.stephaniezhong.comLinkedIn: Rapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron: 
Navigate the dualities, overcome challenges, and lead with compassion; authentic success intertwines passion with purpose while nurturing the soul.Kishshana Palmer introduces herself as a multi-hyphenate serial social entrepreneur with diverse experience in fundraising, marketing, and policy within the social impact sector. Through candid honesty, Kishshana reveals her path towards self-understanding and embracing strengths, illuminating a journey of personal evolution. Cultural influences and the dynamics of her upbringing emerge, shedding light on their profound impact on her career, money management, and decision-making. Her journey embodies a redefinition of success, advocating for holistic well-being and a shift from external validation to internal fulfillment. Entrepreneurship, values alignment, and the importance of self-care for effective leadership take center stage. Kishshana's revelation that her true passion lies in empowering women, girls, and young people represent a transformative shift from a pursuit of financial stability to finding joy in impactful work.If your team is thriving, they will move mountains for your mission, your company’s bottom line, and for you, whether it involves a product or a service aboveNotes: 👩🏾‍💼 Kishshana is a multi-hyphenate serial social entrepreneur: to lead well, you have to live well. 01:54 👉🏾 80% of CEOs are afraid they will lose their job: escaping hatches and ensuring your team is comfortable. 05:32👧🏾 Growing up with hardworking parents: schooling in the EU, and living in Queens, within divorced families taught her about diversity. 08:17💥 What Kishshana’s parents wanted from her: learning to soften her rebellion. 12:07😇 Living in two households and respecting authority: children must be seen and not heard. 16:19🤩 Being a high achiever in school: the duality of ways to spend money and perceived success and material things. 19:09🔥 Navigating adulthood with all the choices we make: being out of fear and over-burdening. 21:00🤓 People in their 40s need to let go of things they learned from their parents: the hardest work in life. 25:56🤯 Embedding equity work with every breath: realizing people are snapping and competing with unknown standards, and losing health and life over that. 28:36📌 Starting your own business is not easy, but how to enjoy it: journey vs. goals and outcomes. 34:21🏔️ The Black Godfather had an influence on Ron: when your word moves mountains. 42:22🎙️ Kishshana’s dream is to build a studio for creatives and small businesses: why crowdfunding and asking for help is a risk. 45:29💎 Kish’s RONderings: you have a responsibility to take care of yourself - filling the cracks to create new ground. 51:00📙 Book: Take off Your Cape: rethinking everything to be healthy and have life. 52:36LinksConnect with Kishshana: Rapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron: 
 Education isn’t just about learning, it’s about celebrating differences and fostering inclusivity.As CEO of Ascend Public Charter Schools, Recy Dunn’s story encapsulates the transformative power of personal experiences and the resounding impact they can have on one’s pursuit of educational justice and identity exploration. Raised by a mixed-race couple in Texas, his upbringing propelled a lifelong quest to understand identity amid societal complexities, stemming from racial prejudices and fueling his mission to reshape the educational landscape to address disparities in access and opportunities based on race.An enlightening turning point surfaced in his life upon encountering a Langston Hughes poem, a moment that ignited a fire within him, setting him on a trajectory of exploring education’s potential in shaping identities and fostering an environment where differences are celebrated rather than marginalized. His insights highlight the complexities of navigating educational paradigms and emphasize the urgency to embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure a thriving educational ecosystem.May Dunn’s voice resonate, sparking action in each of us, as we collectively endeavor to shape a more inclusive, diverse, and excellent educational landscape for generations to come! Show notes:👨‍👩‍👦 Recy’s childhood: growing up in a mixed-race family in Texas and experiencing racism and prejudice.  01:34🎓 Understanding identity and race: the transformative power of education. 04:18🗽 ”There has to be more to this world”: moving to NY in a few days. 08:07🔄 Career shift: from customer services to becoming a recruiter. 12:06🚀 Entrepreneurial ventures:  launching a tutoring startup and expanding to LA. 18:54👥 How John Deasy and Bill Hite influenced his work: Prince George’s superintendent and deputy superintendent. 24:25🌟 New beginnings: transferring to the New York City Department of Education and working in DOA.  29:03🏫 Opportunity to serve communities that look like him: from being explicitly college prep to being an organization that’s focused on educating kids and students. 38:03🌱 Generational navigation: when your students are the priority. 44:59🕰️ Words to younger self: Recy’s reflections and life advice. 47:55🌎 Recy’s RONdering: Taking over the world. 49:13🎖️ Ascend’s impact: empowering 6,000 students in Brooklyn. 50:30Links:Connect with Racy: Ascend: Join: Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron: 
Empowering minds is the spark, transforming communities is the flame that ignites a brighter future for us all.Dr. Ian Buchanan, the visionary CEO of Nia Education Group, is a role model of transformative leadership. Embracing his identity as a “Black Nerd”, he shares his path, transitioning from teacher to administrator to an inspiring entrepreneur and leadership coach.Addressing the poignant absence of diversity in education, his role amplifies the critical need to bridge cultural understanding gaps in pivotal services such as academics and social work. He champions the celebration of one’s true self and cultural heritage, urging individuals to represent their authentic identities within their professional realms.Rooted in the belief that fundamental needs and values transcend cultural differences, let us champion advocacy for others, ensuring their cultural intricacies find voice and inclusion. Become a guiding light for those sharing your heritage, showcasing your genuine self wherever you tread!Notes😎 Jay-Z of leadership coaching: Ian Buchanan is Ron’s education co-conspirator. 00:40🏆 It is great to be great: working with people with expertise is something Ian enjoys. 02:21🧒🏾 Being the opportunity myth before the opportunity myth: growing up in the poverty of East St. Louis, Illinois.  03:36🧑🏾‍🏫 He didn’t want to be a tool for the oppressive society: transferring from engineering to being a teacher.  05:13🎤 Being a cool nerd: Ian was completely immersed in hip-hop culture and rap as the transformational power of the spoken word. 07:32🦸🏾 When Ian realized that teaching was his superpower and the way to impact the world. 09:50🧑🏾‍🎓 Ian comes from a family of educators: Ian is a teacher, principal, central office leader and entrepreneur. 10:24🆚 His presentations were booed: understanding charter vs traditional public, white run charters vs People of Color Run charters without autonomy. 12:57✌🏾 Working with ASD and applying lessons to his work: emphasizing the importance of elevating the voices of those closest to education. 15:45👑 K.I.N.G. masterclasses and book: who influenced his entrepreneurship journey. 24:43💯 Ian’s dreams:  the power of coaching and developing a master class with a broader reach. 27:24🌞 The most important coaches for Ron and Ian: context is the most important for good coaches - working on a human being, not human doing. 30:46🤩 Helping men of color connect with their emotions and soul: breaking away from toxic behaviors using 10 saboteurs from the Positive intelligence system. 33:43💎 Ian’s RONDering: Having sugar-free K-12 schools - the power of fresh food to kids’ brains. 40:38🌎 Broadening kids’ experiences with traveling out of the country to have more global dexterity. 45:20📘 Ian’s book KING: A Four-Part Leadership Framework for Black Men. 46:45Links:- LinkedIn page- IG: nia_education_group- Twitter: @docianbuchanan- Facebook: Ian Buchanan- Amazon link to book- Nia Education Group Website
Bring a piece of yourself into everything you do so you can be a role model for others like you.Yexenia Gómez is a renowned culinary director and educator who helps bring health and nutrition education to underprivileged people in her community. Working with businesses and children alike, Yexenia's passion is empowering people to feel more confident and creative in nourishing themselves.There is a tragic lack of diversity in the education sector, leaving a cultural understanding gap in fundamental services like academics, social work and nutritionists. This is why it is so important to stop adjusting yourself for other people in your industry and to represent your authentic self and your culture.No matter our differences, our basic needs and values are the same, so we need to start advocating for others and ensuring that the nuances of their cultural needs are represented and accessible. Be a mentor for others who share your background by showing up as yourself everywhere you go!Notes:🌞 Yexenia is a great friend, a supervisor for community educators focusing on wellness and nutrition, and an amazing chef.  01:09⚡ Emigrating from El Salvador to NY:  empowering her culture through food and her life. 03:37🌮 Feeling like being the only one in the room: the need to talk about and elevate her culture. 06:23🇸🇻 Living on the farm in El Salvador as a kid: dark and light memories of growing up. 10:41😇 College days in NYU and struggles to pay for education: finding her tribe and family in college. 15:31😍 Being a pioneer and a role model in her family: being on the cover of People en Español and empowering people with her story. 18:08🍏 Wellness and getting diagnosed with type two diabetes: helping her community get healthier.  20:43🍽️ Before colonialism, Philippine cuisine was much healthier: teaching children to visualize their plates with ‘real food’. 22:33👩🏽‍🍳 Cooking every night to get more energy and good food: moderation and accumulating bad food. 29:09👉🏾 The importance of having more Black and Latino nutritionists. 30:40⚠️ We choose careers based on our childhood wishes: Latino communities are not getting proper information on diabetes and nutrition. 33:29🙏🏼 How intuitiveness and spirituality helped Yexenia survive Hurricane Sandy. 37:22🕯️ Being shamed to ask for more from Universe: cultural issues in finding your self-worth. 41:34📦 Yexenia’s RONdering: Show up as yourself everywhere you go: don’t adjust yourself for others.  45:30🤩 Social justice in roots of NYU students now: looking beyond yourself and advocating for people who don’t look like you. 48:20🍜 Being an entrepreneur: private cooking classes for organizations. 51:46Links IG: @Chef_YexeniaFacebook: @chefyexeniaTwitter: @Chef_YexeniaYouTube Channel: @chefyexeniaTik-Tok: @chefyexeniagomezLinkedIn Profile:  Mobile Site:  Rapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron:
 Collective responsibility resonates strongly in supporting our communities, urging us to recognize the beauty and brilliance present within our own people.Dr. Nancy B. Gutierrez, President & Lead Executive Officer of The Leadership Academy, and Dr. Roberto Padilla, superintendent of Community School District 7 in the Bronx, share their journeys as educators and advocates for students of color. Together, they challenge the prevalent belief that success necessitates leaving one’s community.In a world that often promotes the idea that leaving one’s community is essential for success, this episode celebrates and elevates leaders who choose to remain rooted in their community. It advocates for inclusive educational practices and a new definition of success that is closely tied to community strength and identity.Listeners are invited to reflect on their role in reshaping societal ideas around success and community. We help promote a culture that honors and celebrates the unique richness of different places. By amplifying voices and experience Notes: 🚪 Roberto was brought into foster care at the age of four: initially not prioritizing school, significant life events shifted his approach.  02:58👩🏽‍🏫 Nancy’s passion for learning blossomed in 8th grade: she pursued a career as a teacher and later as a school principal in her hometown of San Jose.  07:52🚶🏽‍♂️ “Leave to succeed” mindset: Roberto reflected on feeling compelled to walk away from his community and motivated others to share their stories about it in the ‘Stay and Prevail’ book. 11:25🥰 A love story about their home communities everyone said they should not love. 15:08⚠️ We have an obligation in educational space:  be aware of the messages we convey to children, our perceptions of their communities, and how we are redefining success.18:58🌞 Equity as a problem we are trying to solve VS equity as an opportunity we want to cultivate. 21:01🤯 Sometimes messages are repeated across generations of loved ones: home is not  good enough, disconnect from the identity and source of your character. 23:03⚡ Ron’s personal life crisis: leaving a meaningful legacy and empowering kids to mirror his background to make a difference in their communities.  23:55🔥 Stop comparing ourselves to what people have told us we need to be. 26:32😇 “Stay and prevail” community leaders are fully connected and accessible: take on those hard conversations and stay in that space. 28:44😍 Roberto’s journey of leaving and returning: carrying “home” with you wherever you are,  fostering love and support for numerous children in the district. 31:48😇 A “hardcore home girl” who found success in NY: offering mentorship and inspiration to everyone in San Jose. 34:27🌞 Don’t bash children’s communities, let them choose whether to leave or stay: embracing the power of family connections. 38:55💎 Nancy’s RONdering: Why is my brain trained to think I don’t deserve some things, and I’m not enough? 41:50💎 Roberto’s RONdering of ongoing growth: not seeing black and brown children from very tough areas in the real light of their talents and worthiness.  43:39Links:Book:'s LI: Roberto's LI: Rapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron: 
Building communities is essential for creating opportunity, acceptance and prosperity.Kwamara Thompson is a leader, community builder and angel investor who pours herself into numerous organizations that foster a culture of unity and positive social change. From a young age, she has been passionate about fighting for equity and empathy-focused growth, and continues to dedicate herself to lifting others up by providing opportunities for those in need.In a world where your zip code can determine the opportunities you are given in life and promote segregation, it is more important than ever that we focus on building communities of love and support. If you are in a position where you can relate to a variety of different people, it's time to leverage your social talents and create safe spaces and communities for people to come together as they are.Everybody needs to be reminded and encouraged to be their truest selves so we can all show up, have authentic conversations, and create a positive impact together. A love of humanity is a love of self, so you and everybody in your community are worthy of love!Notes:😎 Ron and Kwamara are NYU friends. 01:05🤯 How New York and New Orleans shaped Kwamara’s life: zip code differences in education and segregation. 02:44📹 Private school gave her freedom and skills, so she filmed a race relations documentary in high school. 07:11⚡ Graduation and working in science camp: the story of how the trajectory of her life changed in one day. 09:46👧🏾 Embracing her authenticity: being a ‘weird kid’, with an interesting style. 13:04🌞 Human beings are relational: her love for community and having a place to fail productively. 17:56🙃 Having the ‘odd person out’ feeling: creating a safe space for being yourself and building it for others too. 21:23😇 Creating space and fighting for space: come as you are. 26:05😍 Moving to Miami: a great space to be during the pandemic and build a softer, joyful life. 30:00🍎 Living in New Jersey and New York: suburb of chaotic New York. 36:27🏖️ Moving patterns and Seasonal Affective Disorder: living in Miami’s sun is great. 39:50🪞 Kwamara’s RONdering:  love for humanity and self-love -  find something you love about yourself. 40:33🕯️ Advents and the effects of candles: seeing people who they are. 41:25👉🏾 Angel investing: Your Family and Friends Fund helps 10 businesses a year while building portfolios for investors.  44:31Links: Merch @kwamaradenise and @iamablackwomanyesRapatalo Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron:
Leading with discernment is a vital part of unlocking the greatness in others.Shanita Rapatalo is a national consultant and expert on literacy, DEI, and education, and helps to create systemic changes to the education system that promote equity, compassion and acceptance. With 20 years of experience in the education sector, she continues to follow her passion for helping to develop and strengthen leaders and practices in the industry to ensure that students can become the best versions of themselves.In order to unlock the true potential of education, it's crucial to step back and weigh the intent of the education practices with the impact they are having.While students may be happy and making positive connections, if they are not being held to a high standard and being given the opportunity to struggle through difficult content, they are not being given what they need to thrive.Truly leading with love means receiving people as they are, giving them access, but putting them to work and allowing them to struggle and experience the hard things they need to get ready for the real world. Equal access and leading with love can be a double-edged sword, so receive others as they are, but lead with mindfulness! Notes👩🏾‍💼 National Literacy expert, mother, a family rock of Rapatalo household: Shanita is a leader and facilitator. 01:06🌞 Growing up in Baltimore City with her grandparents: she set the trajectory for her entire life in high school. 03:27👩🏾‍🏫 Her dream was to get into medical school: working at Teach For America and realizing the impact of being a young black woman in the class. 09:27😇 Grad school and Hello Friends Foundation: creating literacy systems and structures for Rapatalo Group. 13:43🩹 From nonprofit to entrepreneurship: subtle racism wounded her, and she needed time to heal. 16:53🤰🏾 Rough family circumstances in 2020 and entrepreneurship as a touchdown. 19:57👉🏾 Hustling journey in entrepreneurship: you get control over your life, but it is a grind. 23:55😍 Shanita’s Grandma ran her daycare, teaching children, and buying them clothes: feeding people and helping everyone. 26:47🎯 Community of learners and no judgment zone for kids: family legacy in the classroom is helping kids get out of the class 10 times better. 32:53🆚 Judgment versus discernment: seeing things as they are and not harming kids with lowering standards. 37:27🎶 Love for hip-hop: her brilliance in deciphering and spitting lyrics and her love for Jay-Z. 43:23👨🏾‍🎤 Hip-hop culture in the golden era: telling stories through lyrics that are smart, slick, and showing real life. 47:25💎 Shanita’s RONdering is acceptance: how you show up is how I receive you. 52:15✌🏾 Rapatalo Group work: facilitating literacy structures and support systems, professional development, and career coaching. 53:11📘 Leverage Publishing Group: speak your book into existence with us. 54:51Links:Connect with Shanita Group: rapataloconsulting@gmail.comLeverage Publishing: www.leveragepublishinggroup.comConnect with Ron:
Break free from your scripted role and uncover your authentic self.Rick Andrews is a highly respected trainer, educator, and improv artist with expertise in team development, creativity, innovation, public speaking, and leadership. He brings a treasure trove of hands-on expertise to these key areas.Rick shares his journey through the labyrinth of improv, illuminating the trail it blazed toward personal authenticity. The narrative peels away the layers of his initial motivations for diving into improv and how it inexorably shaped his career choices. This episode is all about a profound exploration of authenticity’s irreplaceable role in both improv comedy and public speaking. It magnifies the transformative power of genuine connection, transcending the superficial to strike at the core of human engagement.Discover the transformative potential of embracing your true self and connecting with others on a deeper level.  Show Notes: 🎭 Rick Andrews is a performer and instructor of improvisation: exercises for listening, team building, and public speaking. 01:01 😇 Journey through improv: battling ADD in high school and embracing the flow state. 03:29 🗽 Finding an artistic home in NY: balancing research psychology studies with his love for comedy. 08:22🙃 Making your stage partner laugh: translating connection on the stage to the audience in improv comedy. 13:26 🗣️ Public speaking and what is really important to people: TED talk voice vs. your authenticity. 17:07⚡ Trust first, transaction second: approaching personal brand differently and selling yourself. 22:54👉 The perfect personal ambassador is Deion Sanders: Mr Beast’s work with algorithms. 27:47⚠️ Reframing your life with social media content instead of just living your life. 33:40🌊 LinkedIn posts and strategies: ‘don’t rock the boat’ platform. 35:52🆚 TikTok vs. LinkedIn’s system and Netflix vs. HBO - what really changes and impacts Rick. 39:02😎 Rick’s non-scalability concept: doing only things he loves and sizing his ambitions correctly. 44:02🌞 When you get big, how much will you give up on yourself? 47:21🎯 Being good these days means getting more followers: being impactful and being a better teacher are Rick’s goals for success. 49:48✂️ Teaching improv in theater and in companies: tailoring exercises to achieve team’s goals in the working environment.  53:11💎 Rick’s RONdering: being authentic because who we are always changes by the places. 55:01  Links: Connect with Improv: www.rickandrewsimprov.comConnect with Rick: Connect with Ron: 
Studies have shown that cognition is related to movement. Using dance to transform the STEM experience for girls, has allowed Yamilée to see the progress being made, after finding out that only 5% of people in STEM are women of color.Having to initially choose between dance and STEM as she was applying for college, Yamilée has made it her mission to integrate the two.Studying at MIT as one of few women of color in the room, Yamilée could see that a shift was required. With dance, allowing girls to feel good about themselves and seeing how they progress as they perfect movements and routines. Watching her dance student accessing a scholarship as an artistic as well as technical person, Yamilée knows she will offer perspectives others cannot.If dance is what it takes to unlock the potential for girls all over the world, then that is the ultimate goal.Notes:💃🏾 Violin, love for dance, and love for math: studying MIT and being a few women of color in the room. 02:33👩🏾‍💼 Using dance to transform the experience that girls have in STEM: founding her own company, STEM from dance. 06:33⚡ Cognition is related to movement: Yamilée felt powerful while she danced. 09:26🎇 Integrations between dance and technology: using lights and making content approachable to younger generations. 13:08😇 The story of how Yamilée’s student became a computer engineering scholar: support that opens many doors. 17:45😍 Support and sacrifices from her parents: support network around her. 21:19😎 Ron’s parents hustled and networked, despite facing systemic racism and inequity. 23:00🥅 Her father's forming of a non-profit planted a seed in Yamilée for later: if dad can do it, I can do it mindset. 25:37✌ Confident dancer and not-so-confident entrepreneur: financial, race, and gender barriers. 31:54🌞  Yamilée’s circle of champions: friend, coach, and father as a first safety net of wisdom and support. 34:46💎  Yamilée’s RONdering: the power of being anchored in the purpose. 37:19🌎  Yamilée’s dream: getting global and helping girls worldwide. 38:37Links:Dance with Yamilée: www.stemfromdance.orgConnect with Yamilée: with Ron:
 Deciding that your belief system will overflow into every aspect of your life, allows you to focus on what you have decided is important.Born into a home upheld by justice and faith, Kenan worked towards a career in education. Driven by a passion for restoration and the justice he grew up desiring, Kenan has risen to a position of leadership within education equity.Being surrounded by and in relationships with people who hold a different belief, values or come from a different culture, allows an opportunity to learn and rethink the way you work across lines of difference. As people are treated with love and feel a sense of belonging, they will be more comfortable when it comes to opening up, feeling connected, and allowing a culture of adult-to-adult communication in working spaces. Everyone has a story, and any place that’s worth itself will provide space for people to feel comfortable enough to share theirs.We all take a little bit from everybody and every culture around us! Notes👓 Kenan’s cool red glasses. 01:38👵🏾 Ohio boy who wants to make his grandmother proud: justice and being sacrificial for the overall good of society. 02:22👦🏾 Having trust issues with local police from teenage years: awakening his blackness and becoming a president of Black United Students 06:02🚓 Common issues African Americans have in interaction with police: the presumption of guilt.  08:53📚 Becoming a voracious reader: working with kids in the YMCA. 14:20🌞 Meeting his wife in Bible study classes: being in relationships with people who are different is an important process of learning. 16:37💥 Ron met Kenan through his wife, Shanita: equity-driven leadership and work in Rethink. 19:00😎 Rethinc as Wu-Tang Clan of education systems. 22:25✌🏾 Love, justice, and belonging in the workplace: how to unpack love even with different backgrounds. 25:47🥰 Love looks different in different ages of life: love is critical repentance and restoration. 29:39👨🏾‍💼 Advocating for adult-to-adult communication in working space: create the conditions for safety in conversations and inclusion. 34:05🎤 Kenan was rapping from a teenager: mixing rapping and his faith and values. 38:02🤯 Believing in God means getting rid of your hip-hop CD collection: Kenan’s musical project Seriously 40:36🎧 Do we value life or not: sharing questions about the consistency in our world. 43:41💎 Kenan’s RONdering: Everybody samples - taking different pieces and mixing it well into the workplace, our lives, and DEI. 46:55🎯 Providing spaces for people to feel comfortable, courageous, and safe to share their story. 50:36✅ His projects: Rethinc podcast, DEI improvement and Kenan’s and Jonesy's album.  51:28LinksDEI work with Rethink: www.rethinc.usMusic page: project:  Connect with Ron: 
Realizing the power of your connections is the key to success in business and life.Marcela is the President and CEO of designEDengagement where she co-creates roadmaps to help strengthen the partnership between families, communities and educators. In cities across the country, Marcela passionately oversees projects dedicated to cultivating the power of connections to strengthen communities and create better opportunities for students.Asking for help can feel like a shameful and transactional experience, but we all have a community of generous people who care about us and are happy to help. Once you realize that trust is the biggest currency within this support network, your community becomes a psychological safety net that will help you navigate your way through any hardships you face.When you work together with the mission-aligned people in your life, magic happens, and everybody can enjoy the fruits of the labor together. Your community is your parachute, so don't be afraid to jump your way towards opportunity and success!Notes:😇 Growing up in poverty as a child of immigrants: Marcela’s mother, family, and community are instrumental to her life and story. 02:56🦸🏻‍♂️ Making the ask: the desperation, shame, and feeling of failure that comes with asking for help. 08:07⚡ Being a Latina founder is not easy: asking for help is the key her mom gave her by breaking the mental mold. 11:22🔥 Marcela’s circle of champions: church, mission-aligned networks, and wine time with a 96-year-old neighbor. 13:06🤔 How leveraging works: using the closest circles for personal issues and broader networks for professional ones. 17:20🥅 Funding issues and receiving support: building a strong safety net. 19:25⚠️ Trust as your biggest currency: what Marcela says to all Latina entrepreneurs. 21:29😅 The first business lesson Marcela learned about business and entrepreneurship: don’t eat your product! 24:49🪂 Your community is your parachute: from work in Mexico and opening schools, Harvard graduation, building a family engagement program for the state of Texas and starting her own company. 25:29🌞 Education consulting, podcast, and her book: Marcela is supporting people to intentionally design engagement and supporting students’ hopes and dreams.  34:11💎 Marcela’s RONdering: Measuring vs. experience in your cooking, leadership, and life - experiencing things with others is always better. 39:18Links:Website:  https://designEDengagement.comLinkedIn: designEDengagement, PBCBook and podcast: Connect with Ron:
 Being confident in your identity is the key to growth.Marc Etienne is a Partner at Rethinc where he helps to provide the support and coaching needed to evolve communities and organizations away from inequitable practices. With over 25 years of experience in helping students achieve their potential, regardless of their background, Marc continues to follow his passionate pursuit of the dismantling of systemic racism.A big part of unsubscribing from systemic racism and inequitable traditions is breaking free from the chains, refusing to conform, and being comfortable and confident with who we are. To achieve this growth, and help our communities evolve toward a stronger and more equitable future, we must willingly and confidently face discomfort, commit to practice, and become the best versions of ourselves.If we aren't fulfilling our potential by putting in the practice, we can't properly love and support others, and we can't face discomfort with confidence. Invest in yourself, practice what you are passionate about, and move towards your purpose and potential! 🇭🇹 Marc is a New Yorker born in a Haitian immigrant family: celebrating his family’s legacy. 02:38🍪 Getting into an elite private school was not easy: the difference between being Black and being Haitian. 04:03👦🏽 The first time he realized he was Black: seeing how whiteness was playing out all around him and getting detentions for asking questions about it. 05:49👨🏽‍🏫 Trying to find himself and living in anger and confrontations during college: becoming a teacher and learning from kids and parents.15:36✨ New Leaders and becoming a principal at 26 within their innovative programs. 20:35🥰 Moving to Maryland and race equity policy: his wife is his best friend. 23:05😲 COVID took 9 close friends: the day when Marc decided it is time to do something different. 28:24🧒🏽 What it really means to be educated for kids of color: an appropriate curriculum for minority groups is essential. 32:50⭐ Joining Rethinc and finding how to be yourself at work and do good work without being conformed to fit in the box and cutting your culture. 37:08⚠️ Identify where whiteness exists and prevails and what anti-Blackness is: systems are enforcing the idea of whiteness. 39:11😇 Marc finds joy in yoga, being with his wife, and connecting with his kids and family, but doesn’t like masking and faking it. 42:57🎯 Growth and discomfort are inextricably linked: the best friends are ones that push you to get into uncomfortable situations you will handle. 46:27🤩 The martyrdom is killing us - we never do anything good alone: interconnectedness in your community is the key. 53:27🌌 The universe conspires to have you get what you want, as long as you believe it. 55:57💎 Marc’s RONdering: everybody has the ability to be great, but don’t be afraid to practice. 57:55🎆 Practicing consistently means putting yourself first: fulfill your potential, so you can help others around you. 1:04:56🤓 The Lion’s Story and Rethinc: equitable and just world and workspaces. 1:08:42🙏🏽 Being a teacher is the hardest job in US: being a principal is also very hard, so find time to thank them. 1:12:02Links: Connect with Marc: Connect with Ron: 
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