Founder, Board Chair

Sami Aaron

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:

Find more information on Sami’s site Being Onto Something.

Board of Directors

Mary Howe, Lawrence, KS

Secretary and Chair of Technology Committee

I’ve been a web developer and troubleshooter since the late nineties, but starting in 2008 I decided only to work for nonprofits. I am happy to be able to develop the Resilient Activist website and to provide support for other Resilient Activist technical needs.

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 am fortunate to live on eighty acres of Kansas fields and woodlands. We try to be careful stewards of the land, and so have returned acreage to native prairie grasses and cleaned the woods of human junk (old washing machines, sheet metal, bathtubs, and much more).

Beth Sarver, Shawnee KS 

Vice-Chair and Chair of the Program Committee

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.

Advisory Board

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.

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. 

Core Team

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.

Lisa Holiman, Kansas City MO

Climate change is very real and if we all do just a tiny bit, we can have great impact. I own an interior decorating business, Breath of Fresh Flair. I love helping people redesign with their existing furniture and accessories. 

I’m also a fashionista so I added wardrobe consulting to my business. Resale has become popular and many people prefer it to avoid fast fashion and to minimize items going to the landfill.  

Redesigning and thrifting have become something I’m very passionate about. Not only is it budget friendly, but it’s a way to reduce our consumption and reuse in a new way. 

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!

Rita Huff

My awareness in changing the treatment of our environment began as a teenager. My father and I observed raw sewage coming from a large pipe running into a creek we were fishing in. Yes, you read this correctly! Our town didn’t treat their sewage. And yes, this was legal in the early 1970’s. As an environmental engineer with the EPA I worked with facilities who were seeking to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste.

I have found throughout the years that people do not recognize nor understand the impact they have daily on our environment. Education is critical to ensure that the beauty of our planet is not further harmed and to ensure that those ecosystems that have been damaged are revitalized. Much controversy also exists when this assurance runs against opposing values. This is why I’m a part of the Resilient Activist- to ensure all have information to select better environmental choices and to support those that desire to make positive impact.

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.

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. 

Dena Klein, Kansas City, MO

My goal is to help nurture our Earth for future generations in any way I can, remembering no step taken is too small.

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 workI 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.

Lesa Patterson-Kinsey, Prairie Village, KS

A social worker actively working in Kansas politics as a community organizer for the last decade, I’m now being pulled to use my advocacy and nonprofit skills in the environmental field. My passion is connecting with people and building healthy communities.  I admire The Resilient Activist’s mission of addressing the impact the climate crisis has on our mental health. I also connect with The Resilient Activist’s approach of meeting people where they are and assisting them to reach that next level of green living. Ready to be a part of the solution in healing ourselves and our earth! 

Tarah Vaughn, Overland Park, KS

Recycling Coordinator

I found my way to The Resilient Activist through my life journey pursuing a career in environmental science. I am passionate about sustainability, environmental awareness, nature, and ecology as our future depends on it. Climate change will only worsen if we, as a human race, fail to make the necessary changes to reduce its impact with continued remediation efforts.

The Resilient Activist provides an outlet where I can share my ideas and have the opportunity to learn and grow with those who are as passionate as I am, to help spread our knowledge and love to those who take the time to listen.

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