Early on I decided that the motto, “do no harm,” was nothing more than a starting point, and the next step is to engage in something positive and lasting. I’ve been lucky (and stubborn) enough to find ways to contribute my talents to organizations that make positive contributions to society.
My career has always involved research, writing, music and travel.
Early in my career, that involved developing educational materials for teachers of profoundly handicapped children (University of Kansas).
During my nearly six years in Europe, I helped adults learn English as a Foreign Language and introduced several hundred amateur musicians to some of the intricacies of American finger style guitar. I also taught English conversation classes at the University of Goettingen, and had an opportunity to travel pretty much everywhere in Europe.
For a summer, I worked as a stevedore on the Hamburg docks, an experience that was a long way from my home in Eastern Kansas, and is probably worth a novel. There were some pretty rough characters and good stories that came out of that experience.
More recently, my life has been connected to “brandnewsing” the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley and other economic development organizations and working with individual businesses.
Despite what you might think about journalism, I even believe some lasting good came from my earlier years as a journalist. As city editor on a daily paper in Missouri, I helped focus public and political awareness on severe overcrowding at a nearby state prison. I had complete access to all parts of the prison, thanks to the support of the warden and a very astute guard, Glen, both of whom knew the facility was reaching the boiling point. My guide on the “inside” was a young man – a former Golden Gloves boxer – who’d fallen in with a rough crowd in St. Louis and who killed a man with his bare hands. I understand that’s not easy to do. Ultimately this year or so of work resulted in increased state funding and safer conditions for inmates and guards alike. The townsfolk, alarmed to find that the “medium” security prison in their midst included (formerly) violent prisoners who’d moved up through the penal system, were more than happy to see some investment in new cells and air conditioning.
Later, while at Associated Press, I had a chance to cover serious topics such as chemical plant risks – including the chemical (methyl isocyanate) that brought you the world’s largest industrial tragedy, Bhopal. I dealt with the typical range of human tragedies – car wrecks, drownings, etc. And because this was in West Virginia, of course the daily news diet included political shenanigans of all sorts. But what especially moved me was the opportunity to write a story that was distributed worldwide by AP about an elderly West Virginia widow whose farm was being threatened by coal operators. A lawyer in Florida read the story and came to her rescue. She was able to live out her days in peace.
Outside of work, I’m a father and husband, a volunteer music teacher at the Joy of Music School, a partner with my wife in the Knoxville Cello-Guitar Duo, and an avid tennis player and flat water kayaker. I also perform with East Tennessee fiddler Darrell Acuff and with the old-timey Appalachian band, the Attic Rattlers.
Educational background: B.A. English/Journalism; M.S. (Political Science/Social Studies); M.L.S. (Academic Information Science); studied undergraduate and graduate courses several years at Universitat Goettingen, Germany; German language fluency; president of graduate honor society; graduate of intensive courses at Goethe Institute and group facilitation institute, San Francisco.