What pronouns do you use? He/Him
Where will you be located while serving on the board? Birmingham, AL
Please describe your activity with any Recovery Dharma sangha, including local, affinity, inter-sangha, circle, or volunteer with the board. (Affinity: some members of Recovery Dharma create sangha groups around identities such as Black, Indigeneous and People of Color (BIPOC), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and Ally (LGBTQIA) Women; or interests such as recovery around process addictions, food or codependency. Circle: an independent volunteer work group)
I have been a member of the Birmingham, Alabama sangha for almost two years (I actually facilitated the first RD meeting here after we voted to transition from Refuge Recovery). Recovery Dharma has changed my life. Not only has it helped my recovery from substance and process addictions, but it has given me a community of wise friends and a solid spiritual path. I typically attend as many as five meetings a week. Since quarantine began last March, I have taken on more leadership activities to keep the sangha strong (and it has – in fact – grown even stronger over this time in both number and spirit despite the obstacles posed by 2020). In fact, I have likely facilitated close to 75 meetings online since quarantine began. I am also a member of an independent group of wise friends who are working through the RD inquiries. Finally, I have a few mentees who I am helping guide through the recovery process.
Briefly describe your professional/livelihood history in a narrative, and upload a resume or copy it below. Reminder that many life experiences can be applied to the work of a Board. This includes, but is not limited to service with local groups, managing a household or service on another nonprofit board.
I earned my B.A. in English and Political Science from Vanderbilt University in 2003. I then went straight to law school at the University of Florida, where I received my J.D. in 2005. For nearly the next ten years, I practiced law in Birmingham, AL. My civil practice covered a wide range of legal issues, but I spent the last few years defending financial corporations from securities fraud claims. I found this work to be soul-sucking. Desiring an opportunity to be of more service to others, I gave up my law practice and went back to school to become a teacher. I received my M.Ed. in 2015 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Before I even graduated, I had started teaching at a school in downtown Birmingham. This school had been on the “failing schools” list several years in a row. The school population was very impoverished, and my average 11th grade student could only read on a 3rd grade level. However, my students needed no lessons in resilience. During my tenure as the 11th grade English teacher, the number of students at the school who received a “Qualifying Score” on the ACT English and Reading sections (a score high enough to qualify them for college scholarships) increased over 600%. Unfortunately, in 2017 I acquired a rare auto-immune disease known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (only 1 in 100,000 people get it), which paralyzed me from head-to-toe for months, locking me in my body. Thus, I was on leave the entire 2017-2018 school year. The following year, I tried to return to work, but my body was experiencing so much neuropathic pain that my doctor recommended I take another leave of absence during the Spring semester. It has taken me nearly four years (and thousands of hours of physical and psychological therapy) to heal from Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Despite the intense suffering caused by my illness, I am now physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually stronger than ever. I know I will eventually return to the professional world in one way or another, but for the time being I am living a very purpose-driven, growth-oriented life as a stay-at-home dad to my three young daughters.
Are there other special or unique skills that you believe would benefit serving as a board member? (please see announcement)
I believe I could be an asset to the RD Board in many ways. I have strong interpersonal skills, which could benefit the Board’s fundraising endeavors. My technological acumen could be helpful in creating the archives and managing the website. Moreover, I could be of great assistance in financial and administrative matters due to my prior experience as an attorney. Finally, I am also a former English teacher, and I believe my excellent research and writing skills make me well-suited to create new literature for RD, including resources using inclusive and trauma-informed language.
Please use the space below to share a brief (300 words or less) statement about yourself. The questions below are offered as prompts for topics you might find helpful. We do not anticipate that you will answer each one.
After 20 years of alcoholism and drug addiction, my story of recovery began two years ago. During treatment, I met with a Buddhist chaplain who gave me the Refuge Recovery book and spoke with me about the main philosophical ideas underlying Buddhism. A week later, I rode the treatment center’s “druggie buggie” to my first Buddhist recovery meeting. I immediately was drawn to the wise people at the meeting and the path they were practicing. The Four Noble Truths resonated with my own life experiences, and the Eightfold Path seemed like a simple yet comprehensive ethical code by which I could live my sober life. I have been very involved in the Birmingham sangha ever since. My practice is what keeps me sane and sober. Most days, I meditate 10 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night. Throughout the day, I focus on staying mindful of the present moment. When I do inevitably cause myself suffering, I try to recognize it and let it go with compassion. I generally respond calmly to conflict, as I believe that most disagreements do not sprout from destructive intentions but instead from lack of understanding. As a lawyer and teacher, I have extensive training and experience when it comes to working with matters involving diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility. Of all the lessons I have learned, perhaps the most important one is that the solution to the isolation of addiction is to connect with myself and others. Recovery Dharma has been the source of that connection for me. I feel so fortunate to now be on a spiritual path and to be able to walk it with my wise friends in my sangha. I would love the opportunity to become a board member and dedicate myself even more to sharing RD with others.