Who We Are
The Connection Partners are dedicated capacity builders who practice individual and group learning as continuous, essential components of change. We recognize the interconnections between inner self and outer actions. No matter how brilliant one may be, a person, organization or institution cannot address today’s complex, interrelated challenges alone.
Sharon Joy Kleitsch, Principal of The Connection Partners, Inc., is a meta-networker, weaving local with global initiatives by sharing what’s emerging and what’s working. She has synergized her management and executive experience at Citigroup and a Masters in Spirituality with the application of systems thinking. Sharon Joy inspires communities, organizations and individuals to partner in conversations that matter, leading to actions that make a difference.
Sharon Joy has a unique vision for seeing potentials and engaging others to explore action-oriented solutions. She entices key leaders from their organizational silos to play in a sandbox of possibilities. Heart-centered communications arise, shaping conscious collaborations to address concerns such as economic development, health, education and the environment. Life is relationships – with others, with situations, with ideas, and primarily with one’s self. Relationships change the world.
Sharon Joy is recognized internationally as a leader in organizing and facilitating small and large group processes. With over 35 years of experience, she knows the benefits of strategic conversational models that lead to stated outcomes. They include the Art of Hosting, World Café, Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space. She has facilitated these groups for over 15 years, co-creating environments to practice being fully present and authentic.
Sharon Joy connects the right information at the right time, thinks critically, and suggests important recommendations wisely. Evolutionary biologist E O Wilson calls such unique individuals synthesizers. She holds a masters degree with theologian Matthew Fox from Holy Names College in Oakland CA and was recognized as the outstanding sociology graduate at the University of Missouri- Columbia.
Douglas Bonar is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and the Owner/Clinical Director of A Center for Wellness in Pinellas Park. He has been a mental health professional for 35 years and is intensely interested in personal and planetary transformation. He takes his practice far beyond traditional therapeutic approaches to embrace our vital relationship with the living Earth and her inhabitants, and with the intelligence of the universe as each individual may know and name it. Douglas is the creator of the Roots and Wings: Way of Wholeness curriculum addressing development of our true Self, from which we can effectively co-create a community and a world that works for all. Douglas is a local facilitator of the Suncoast Community Institute of Noetic Sciences (SCIONS) and of the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium through the Pachamama Alliance. He is a member of the local Domestic Violence Task Force and is on the Advisory Board of the Human Services Program at St. Petersburg College. He is the father of two beautiful adult sons and the grandfather of a remarkable grandchild.
Deb Close is a facilitator, community advocate and leader with experience in law, non-profits, healthcare, eldercare and community building. A passionate whole systems thinker with the ability to see connections and encourage cooperative behaviors, she is skilled in leading and articulating strategic planning and organizational transformation. Her experience includes communicating with all levels in organizations to implement programs for meaningful change. She helps collaborations and organizations to identify needs and assets and directs initiatives to improve quality of life and well-being of individuals in the work place and in the community.
Deb has worked with The Connection Partners to foster conversational leadership, collaboration and sustainable resource sharing in the Tampa Bay region. She is currently a member of: the St. Petersburg Commission on Aging; The Interfaith Commission for Florida’s Children and Youth; the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity and Inclusivity Task Force; the Tampa Bay Time Bank and the Associates of the Sisters of Bon Secours.
Carol Gorelick is a facilitative leader of systemic change. As co-founder and Executive Director of ABC Connects, she is working in the U.S. and South Africa to develop school-community partnerships. Having worked in large global companies, leading a consultancy and NGO, and taught at Pace University and the University of Cape Town, Carol bridges the worlds of practice, capacity building, and research. ABC Connects’ work is cross sector, developing partnerships between and among education, families, corporations, government, not-for-profit organizations and academe. A $400,000 Kellogg grant provided initial funding for an action research pilot in South Africa and Detroit: Building Stronger Communities: Strengthening Schools.
Carol is now leveraging the ABC Connects pilot learnings through a Society for Organizational Learning project: Connecting Pathways: Educating for the 21st Century. This initiative uses a community engagement framework to develop skills, talent and network competencies that people will need in the digital and innovation economy.
Carol has been a trustee of the governing council of the Society for Organizational Learning (formerly the MIT Organizational Learning Center) since 2002, and co-chair from 2008 – 2010 during the transition from US based Founding SoL to Global SoL as a network of networks. She is on the Founding Board of STIA+ (formerly Systems Thinking in Action) and on the Advisory Board for The Institute for Sustainable Enterprise at Farleigh Dickinson University. Since 1991, Carol has been an adjunct as well as a visiting professor at Pace University’s Lubin School of business.
Marie Nelson An advocate for inclusion and a grounded theory researcher, Marie Wilson Nelson is an Emeritus Professor of Integrated Studies at National Louis University. With a background in writing, change studies and the evolution of groups, her holistic research—especially that documented in At the Point of Need–has focused on how writing abilities develop, growth-focused assessment of learning, action research for professional development and teaching as a spiritual activity. Marie shows how studying one’s own teaching in order to improve it leads to upward spirals of growing confidence and success for teachers and students alike, and this work has led her to Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. In 2011 Marie founded the Tampa Bay Time Bank, a service exchange, which helps rebalance the local economy. A certified permaculture designer, Marie works to reveal the positive shifts that occur when we replace economies of scarcity for most with classroom and financial economies of abundance for all.
Janice Stieber Rous is the creator of bodydialogue, a body centered practice that brings mindfulness to one’s physical, mental and emotional patterns …(Not practices)
She applies these tools to individuals and groups to embody wisdom and shift planetary consciousness towards interdepen… dance. She teaches internationally and is proud to be on the board of treesisters.org. Janice can be reached at www.bodydialogues.com
Linda Sechrist, Senior Staff Writer and Director of Community Outreach for Natural Awakenings magazine, also edits the Naples/Fort Myers issue. Nearly 4 million people in 90 U.S. markets read the monthly healthy lifestyle publication, which features her articles. She hosts Rethinking Health Matters on the radio, co-hosts the Metabolic Revolution summit, and founded ItsAllAboutWe.com. Since 2004, she has left no stone unturned in her research and pursuit of doctors and health care professionals who treat the root cause of chronic diseases rather than only symptoms.
After interviewing more than 250 doctors with a “whole systems approach” to health, Linda learned that metabolic diseases have replaced infectious diseases as the plague of humanity. Her public awareness campaign, which includes talks, articles, summit and radio show, informs thousands about what a positive role they can play in their health with changes to diet and lifestyle—what they can do to optimize their health—without medication—that their doctor can’t.
Bob Staretz is currently the Executive Director of Eternea (www.eternea.org) an organization dedicated to the study of various aspects of non-local consciousness and its implications for humanity. Bob has a strong business and technological background in industry. He holds a BS in electrical engineering from Tufts University and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Ohio State University. During his professional career he has held various technical and management positions including VP Product Development, Director of Research & Development, Director of Marketing, and Principle Investigator at some of the nation’s most prestigious high tech research facilities such as Bell Laboratories, GTE Laboratories, GTE Data Services, Racal Datacom, and Midwest Payment Systems. He was a co-founder and co-owner of a database marketing company. He has written, coauthored, articles and published several papers with Dr. Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14 astronaut) in various technical journals on sustainability, consciousness and the nature of reality. He is an avid environmentalist and has also written papers, taught and lectured on environmental issues and sustainability.
Eric Weaver is an inventor and Storm Water Management Model flood studies expert for over 20 years. This included multimillion-dollar site improvements and the complete redesign of the Gibsonton Phosphate Plant after the major 1988 phosphate spill into the Alafia River. He is currently pursuing an Engineering Doctorate at USF Patel Center for Global Solutions to synergize his community infrastructure experience with sustainable entrepreneurial education. He was the Editorial Assistant for Organization & Environment: International Journal for Ecosocial Research, an academic journal, for over seven years.
Eric’s research interests generally involve transformation and transport of water through the physical and chemical processes created by human society and the environment, such as water pollutants in residential urban environments, the effects of land use, infrastructure, urban agriculture, and the fate of rainwater and stormwater runoff. He is particularly passionate about mentoring and inspiring other students. He founded one of the original Learn & Serve Programs Student Taking an Active Role in Society and continues as the Project Director, inspiring student to pursue their own passions and invent!
Man can find meaning in life only by devoting himself to society. – Albert Einstein