Who Am I

I want to reintroduce myself. When I began my blog, I was eager to tell you what I would be writing about.  Since I write about so many different subjects, you might reasonably wonder: how has this guy gotten around  to all these things. Simply put, I have had a long and undulating career. Here’s a brief chronology.

  • My first calling was history.  I earned a PhD from Harvard.  I loved the reading, teaching, and writing but my life felt cloistered and I needed to be more actively involved in the world I lived in.
  • I took a job at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, helping them to write and lobby legislation for the poor and disempowered, and to bring together judges, convicts, lawyers, teachers, students, and administrators etc., in order to forge common understandings.  That fit my values and energies.
  • From  1967-1972 I studied psychotherapy and organizational change consulting, receiving a License as a Psychologist and a certificate in organizational development.
  • Between 1969 and 1974, I split my time between consulting to organizations and marital and family therapy.  I loved each but the travel for consulting conflicted with raising my daughter. So I mostly focused on psychotherapy for the next 30 years.
  • In 1975, with my friends David Kantor and Carter Umbarger, I founded and directed the Family Institute of Cambridge, which became New England’s leading postgraduate training center for marital and family therapy.
  • In 1985, I founded the Boston Center for Family Health, a clinic to treat chronic and psychosomatic illness in family context and, with Michael Glenn and Don Block, a journal called Family Systems Medicine.  Giving talks all over the country, I often felt  like Don Quixote, tilting against the windmills of the American medical system, but we really did make some progress towards shifting the way that physicians thought about health and illness.
  • From 1997 to 2007, I primarily earned my living consulting to organizations around strategy, team building, and leadership development.  My favorite role was that of an executive coach.  I consulted to nonprofits, public agencies (eg the NY and Mass reform school systems), and to major corporations like The Boston Globe, State Street and Honeywell corporation.
  • In 2003, with Elaine Millam, I started WorkWise Research and Consulting to help corporations tap their accumulated wisdom of aging workers, while also freeing them up to pursue time with grandchildren and with other interests.
  • In 2007, I founded the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership, which provides year-long training programs for working executives and managers, emphasizing skills, social justice, and diversity.  It has been a great success, now located in four sites—Boston, Lowell and Lawrence, Providence, RI, and Cape Cod.  The next planned step is expansion to a number of new cities along the eastern seaboard.  One of my favorite parts of this experience was passing the torch to a terrific young leader, Yolanda Coentro, and moving into my own retirement at age seventy-four.
  • Lastly, I have been writing all along, numerous articles and four books:
    • Couples (with Michael Glenn)
    • Readiness and Change in Couple Therapy
    • Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations (with Harry Hutson)
    • Managing Leadership Transitions (with Susan Egmont and Laura Watkins)

You may ask, what holds these disparate activities together? I believe I have always wanted to be of service to individuals, families, organizations, and communities.  Social justice issues have pervaded my work., as my parents’ progressive political philosophy and activities influenced me deeply.  Their dedication to the struggle for equality, justice, liberty, and (political and economic) liberty has been my guiding principles.

I’ve always been interested in change at all levels, individual, group, and institutional.  How do you help people change, even when part of them resists.  So the skills I developed early and my interest in theories of change have been my steady companions throughout my professional life.  Aren’t you glad you asked?