Reflecting on the early influences that shaped my personal philosophy and work, I realize my sense of self-reliance and belief in social justice are no doubt rooted in memories of my childhood TV heroes. Lucas Tanner (The Rifleman) and Don Diego de la Vega (Zorro) taught me about the power and strength of the individual and the need and desire to stand up for others who could not do it for themselves. In the process, I honed an ethos that has guided me throughout my life and career.
After high school, I enlisted in the United States Air Force and trained to become a crash-rescue firefighter - my mission was to save lives in service to my country and later to my community. Becoming a firefighter aligned perfectly with my personal values of self-actualization and the altruism to help people in danger or who could not help themselves.
Through my military and civilian firefighter assignments I traveled and lived in Miami, Florida; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Sacramento, California. These early firefighting experiences taught me the true nature and value of teamwork, esprit de corps, and the discipline I would need to overcome later challenges in life.
While working as a civilian firefighter in Sacramento, I enrolled at California State University, Sacramento majoring in anthropology. My professional life as a firefighter and my academic experience in anthropology truly merged after reading Corporate Culture’s; “The Rites and Rituals of Corporate life (1982).” Knowing about my socio-cultural interest, my assistant fire chief asked me to develop a cultural change initiative for my department. With collaboration from fellow firefighters, we defined our core values and beliefs and then initiated a system to reinforce these co-defined values. The initial success of this cultural revitalization led to other organizational studies in finance, health, and manufacturing organizations, all of which have sustained my interest in organizational culture throughout my career.
After college, I was appointed as a Deputy to the California State Fire Marshal. This allowed me to work in the fire service industry at the state level. For the next 24-years I served in different divisions within the State Fire Marshal’s Office, expanding my skills and readily adapting to personal challenges and change in a highly structured and controlled work environment.
In this environment, I navigated the hierarchy of a huge bureaucracy in the throes of organizational and political change. In the mid 1990’s, the Office of the State Fire Marshal merged with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection under Gov. Pete Wilson, and became known as CAL Fire.
To survive and thrive, I broadened my interests and abilities through curriculum projects that reflected my values. The California State Fire Marshal personally gave me the opportunity to expand my skills to include research, communication, leadership, team building, and training. My developing role was to help others create change and effect cultural evolution while revitalizing a clear sense of purpose, mission and culture. Through this work I realized I am most effective coordinating, uniting and motivating teams in an environment where people can thrive.
While enrolled at Pepperdine University, I had the opportunity to study Organizational Development at the Graziadio School of Business and to consult on the national and international stage. During this time, I consulted with non-profits, government agencies, as well as local and multi-national corporations here in California; Beijing, China; Santiago, Chile; and Lyon, France. My academic focus remained on the culture of organizations and the value systems developed to sustain them.
It is through these experiences, and my own research, that I have identified a universal need for training in ethical leadership to help sustain resilient organizational cultures.
Today, I use my aggregate of life experience, education, training, mentoring and a scientist’s curiosity to work with organizations that are transitioning into a climate adaptive mindset.
Imagine creating a work environment where employees can thrive and feel empowered to make ethical decisions that support their organization’s mission and success and ensure that the culture can adapt to the changing needs created by the climate crisis. Co-creating the organization culture, you desire—it can be yours!
Together we can unearth the best elements of your culture from the past and present that will propel your organization into the future. I can help you define a path to revitalize and clarify your mission, esprit de corps, culture and values to create a healthy, ethical work atmosphere able to adapt to today’s rapidly changing environment.
To schedule a call with me to discuss how I can help you lead your organization toward the future you imagine, give me a call and let’s start a conversation!