What connects coaching and photography? Loving people and their stories.
I discovered the power of stories when I was living abroad in Germany for four months in college: I saw there how profoundly history shapes people's present. Back in the US, I founded Bates College’s Storytelling Club, to engage people from the community in exchanging stories from their everyday lives. I then worked on a team to tell the history of mill work in Lewiston, Maine; that project was immensely powerful to me, but I wanted to know how to bring the stories to life, so I moved to New York to study Applied Theatre at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.
I studied how to use theatre for education and community development, with a focus on theatre-based work to address masculinity. Springing from that work, I taught theatre in schools for a number of years and formed my company Man Question, which produces workshops and a performance festival to redefine what it means to be a man.
Working as an artist was challenging, so I sought coaching, myself. In coaching, I clarified that I needed some stability in my life, so I successfully applied for the role of Assistant Director at the CUNY SPS MA in Applied Theatre. For three years, I developed the MA program and supported our fabulous, boundary-crossing students in pursuing their dreams. Meanwhile, I developed Man Question and created a relationship with Easton Mountain, where I lead workshops and share community with other queer men. And, as if I wasn’t busy enough, I also volunteered as a coach in Landmark Worldwide’s Self Expression and Leadership Program.
I learned photography from film maker and photographer Azmi Mert Erdem. We traveled to Turkey together, I met his family and friends, and he taught me how light changes people and places, as well as the discipline of properly using a camera. Mert and I often collaborate on projects now.
In the fall of 2015, I began planning to make the leap out of the safety of my administrative work--something I help my clients do, now. I took a nine-month certification program in coaching, from Leadership that Works and earned my Certified Professional Coach credential. I also began taking on photo clients and developed my portfolio and approach to photography. In the fall of 2016, I completed my administrative work at CUNY, and in the spring 2017 I joined the faculty of the program as a thesis adviser. I also returned to the freelance world, now a life coach and photographer, still a theater artist and educator, and dedicated as ever to people and their stories.