Founder, Board Chair
Sami Aaron, Kansas City, MO—retired software developer, meditation & yoga teacher, and master naturalist.
The vision of The Resilient Activist was first ignited in 2003 as Sami struggled to find some meaning in the suicide of her older son, Kevin. He had degrees in environmental studies and sociology and was working on a graduate program in urban and regional planning with a joint law degree when eco-anxiety (fear about the ecology of the planet) and solastalgia (grief over loss of a beloved place in nature) combined with his own inner demons and he took his own life.
According to studies from the American Psychological Association, people everywhere are experiencing severe emotional distress caused by climate change and environmental devastation. And what makes it even more unbearable for some is when family, friends, employers, and governments don’t understand and often don’t care.
For many people, the more they learn about the state of ecological devastation, the deeper is their grief.
In the newly emerging field of ecopsychology, there is an understanding of the interconnected relationship, both physically and emotionally, between humans and the health of the planet. You’ll find a powerful discussion on the various ways the term ecopsychology is defined and evolving in “What is EcoPsychology?” by Robert Greenway.
Through Sami’s studies in meditation, yoga nidra (yoga sleep), yoga for trauma, nature-connected teachings, and the benefits of her own time spent in nature, along with her desire to guide others into a life rich in nature connection, she has been able to visualize The Resilient Activist program to build a community that will nurture, uplift, and support those who strive to live in conscious harmony with Earth.
In August 2019, Sami became part of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps after attending training in Minneapolis. Learn more . . .
Listen to Sami discuss the vision and work of The Resilient Activist:
- Small Changes Big Shifts Podcast – Interview with Dr. Michelle Robin
- Radiate Wellness Podcast – Interviews with Christi Clemons Hoffman (scroll down to find both)
- KKFI-FM EcoRadio KC – Interview following Climate Reality Leadership training
- Courageous Conversations – Treesisters.org interview
Find more information on Sami’s site Being Onto Something.
Board of Directors
Brad Elpers – Shawnee Ks
Brad Elpers is a yoga coach. He draws from the principles of his philosophy for a healthy physical body to facilitate experiences of balanced wellbeing with one’s relationship to their feelings, thoughts, and spirit. The nature of these principles are founded on themselves, meaning, to find harmony with ourselves and others, we must first find harmony between us and Mother Earth.
Life is a process, an experience of making decisions based on our relationship with nature, self, and others, through the lens of our awareness, using the tools we are given. My service is to share with others the tools our ancestors passed on to us for clear decision making, grounded in the awareness of our own intent.
I believe Sami and the mission of The Resilient Activist share a path similar to my own, and syncing our mutual efforts will only increase the effectiveness of our actions.
Tobi Holloway – Overland Park, KS
I’m passionate about taking good care of ourselves, each other, and our planet.
I’m inspired to be part of The Resilient Activist because of the positive, optimistic approach to effecting change when change is hard.
Meredith Evans McAllister, Kansas City MO
Meredith is founder of Compost Collective KC and is dedicated to helping others take small (or big!) steps to care for the environment. She has started numerous projects to improve her community since graduating from the University of Arizona in 2010. She believes deeply that we all have the power within us to create change using the skills we’re given.
The Resilient Activist holds a special spot in her soul as it’s a place to create community that is centered around openness, vulnerability, and compassion towards the Earth – in a time when we all need a little bit more of all of that.
Beth Sarver, Shawnee KS
Artist and Trauma-Informed Resilience Educator—My approach to resilience skill building is centered in play, mindfulness, social emotional learning, creative problem solving and brain education. I feel the gravity of our environmental situation and the awareness of human suffering.
As a mother, I am committed to breathe deeply and co-create a different story with our children– one about wisdom, wellness and resilience. The Resilient Activist inspires the fierce mama bear within to dance, open-hearted in the ongoing journey of learning and adapting in community.
Debra Box, Prairie Village, KS
Debra Box has been a leader in the Kansas City nonprofit community for over 20 years. She led Support KC for 17 years, working closely with nonprofits to help them define their missions and communicate how their missions’ impact those they serve. During her leadership, SKC became a recognized national model for nonprofit shared services.
I was impressed with the innovative work and mission of the Resilient Activist. It’s rewarding to me to be able to be a part of the mission as well as sharing my nonprofit expertise.
Dena Klein, Kansas City, MO
Retired CEO of small niche PR company responsible for day to day leadership and strategic direction in sales, operations and marketing. Worked with owners and employees to build company and develop client and media relationships over 28 years of employment.
I am inspired to be part of TRA to help preserve, protect, and regenerate our environment for current and future generations through positive steps and specific measurable actions that support environmental activists as well as “lay” people like myself who are greatly concerned about protecting and nurturing our Earth. And also to learn more about environmental issues, actions/steps I can incorporate into my activities, and teach my grandchildren.
Sarah Glavin, LSCSW , Kansas City, MO
Enso Therapy Group LLC
I am a clinical social worker who has been working with children and families for the past 11 years with experience in community-based mental health, acute inpatient hospitalization and hospice settings. I am dedicated to trauma-informed practices, education on trauma stewardship, implementing mindfulness and supporting people in discovering and celebrating their resiliency.
My belief is that we are very deeply connected to the earth and that the health and wellness of the planet is interdependent with our individual and community wellness and health and is our collective human responsibility. Living in a nature-connected and environmentally conscientious way has contributed significantly to my personal healing and I am grateful for any opportunity I have to share that with others in a way that is helpful. I have the great privilege to be associated with Enso Therapy Group LLC, Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness and The Resilient Activist as organizations that support my growth and practice.
Christine Julian, DeSoto, KS
I am the owner/senior designer of CJI Design Group. I help busy homeowners navigate the process of remodeling and furnishing their home, by creating a truly unique look through a stress-free process of achieving it.
At my core I believe every space should function well for you, promote good health, and spark joy. The Resilient Activist has been the key to achieving all of those three things in a very sustainable way. It started personally at home, and the positive effects of conscious living and connecting with nature are finding themselves at the core of every project she now designs.
Courtney Masterson, Lawrence, KS
Courtney is the Owner/Operator and Ecologist for Native Lands LLC, a local organization focused on restoring native landscapes on public and private land while providing hands on, educational experiences in the community. She also teaches Field Botany at the University of Kansas and works with students in local grade schools to develop their field skills. Courtney is on the board of several local, non-profit organizations and strives to collaborate with environmental groups to support their work in the region. She’s passionate about The Resilient Activist’s mission because she believes self-care and a strong network provide the strength we’ll need to build and cross bridges as we work to heal our ecosystems and our communities.
Beverly McAuley, Overland Park, KS
Beverly McAuley is a graduate of the accredited Interior Design program at Kansas State University and has worked in the A&D community for 28 years. She is an advocate for nature connection and sustainability in the built environment. Beverly presents regularly to architects, designers and manufacturers as the Director of Education and Sustainability with Moore & Giles and as an Ambassador for the International Living Futures Institute. Her passion is guiding others to renew their relationship with nature and to find their unique way to make a positive impact in the world.
I’m inspired to be part of The Resilient Activist in an effort to raise awareness to climate change. I hope to be part of a movement that helps people find their purpose and make a positive impact on the environment.
Tracy Ochester, PsyD, RYT-200 Kansas City, MO
I am a psychologist, Certified Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Teacher/Mentor, trained Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention Teacher, Registered Yoga Teacher, and the Heart-Mind Coordinator for the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness. Although I’ve been a professional caregiver for years, my mindfulness and yoga practice opened my eyes to the importance of being intentional about caring for myself and for the planet we all depend upon. I look forward to playing a role in helping The Resilient Activist support environmental stewards in mind, body and spirit so that our compassionate work of the heart might be sustainable over the long term.
Josh King, Raytown, MO
Joshua King serves as the Director of Grant Development at the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA). He has worked in the nonprofit sector in grant writing, project management, quality assurance, and evaluation for over ten years. His work spans domestic and sexual violence and environmental advocacy, with consulting clients across the United States. Mr. King is a member of the Grant Professionals Association and holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
I’m interested in advancing the financial resilience of people in the climate movement, and creating a nonprofit-sector field for climate action. I believe financial security for activists is a fundamental component of resiliency, and through my work I hope to provide climate volunteers a pathway from passionate activism to career opportunity.
Neely Atha, Kansas City MO
I’m a young adult from the design world with a passion for the environment. I believe that everyday you should be able to respect and help improve the environment and quality of life.
I truly believe we can make a difference together and address genuine, efficient and revitalizing work to address the climate goals for the future. The Resilient Activist is a place where I can use my skills in an atmosphere that offers both professional growth and personal satisfaction while being sustainable, innovative and ethical.
We come from the earth, we return to the earth and in between we garden. If you’re reading this keep gardening!
Pam Geer, Overland Park, KS
Retired nonprofit healthcare executive and currently a very active Johnson County Master Gardener. I wanted to become a part of The Resilient Activist because I love all things nature and I wholeheartedly support my good friend, Sami Aaron.
Mary Honeyman, Overland Park, KS
Landscape architect, steward of the land. I wanted to become a part of The Resilient Activist because I believe in doing all we can to save our planet and that Sami Aaron, Olathe, KS, not-so-retired software developer and meditation teacher, has a vision that will provide the education and dedication to make a real difference!
Kwanza Humphrey, Shawnee, KS
Artist, designer, creative thinker. Sami’s story really touched me. I want to leave a better world for my son. I believe we are all in this together: humans, animals, sea, and earth. We don’t have dominion over but are partners with taking care of this home.
Mary Howe, Lawrence, KS
I try to be compassionate, kind, and lighthearted in my relationship to the world. I also believe that these are the qualities we humans need toward the planet we live on.
I spent 14 years living on eighty acres of Kansas fields and woodlands. We tried to be careful stewards of the land, and so returned acreage to native prairie grasses and cleaned the woods of human junk (old washing machines, sheet metal, bathtubs, and much more).
Kathy Miller, Leawood, KS
I am a retired social worker. I’ve been involved in a number of start-up nonprofits. Why not one more? And … Sami is the dearest of friends and I believe in her!
Shaina Noll, Port Townsend, WA
I was introduced to Sami through her Courageous Conversations interview. Deeply moved and inspired by her story, and the intent of The Resilient Activist, I contacted her to see if I might have something to offer in support of her work. I am a singer/songwriter and spiritual coach; it is my experience that a spiritual perspective on our lives as humans can deeply support resilience as we tend to the larger issues we are facing on our beautiful planet. It is my privilege to be a bearer of this spiritual perspective in ongoing conversations with Sami.