As Circles USA continues to expand, the national office is grateful to add more infrastructure and reach to our system of chapter support. To that end, regional coaches now support the West, the Midwest, the South, and the Mid-Atlantic Regions. Working across geographic, economic, and political boundaries, each regional coach hosts monthly regional community of practice calls for mutual support and collaboration, coaches their regional chapters on a regular basis, and advises new chapters in their early design phase before launch. They also support regional collaborations to expand local Big View efforts so as to have a greater impact on systemic change and inform the national office of regional trends and needs.

This blog series introduces you to Circles USA’s Regional Coaches: who they are; where they come from; and how their leadership helps realize CUSA’s vision, in which all individuals live in equitable, thriving communities where poverty no longer exists.

My name is…

Andrew. I have been the Executive Director of Circles of Grant County (Marion, IN) since it started in 2013. Prior professional experiences include work in public health/substance abuse prevention, education, church ministry, and tax preparation. I have been married to Melissa for 23 years and we have three kids and two golden retrievers. I enjoy the outdoors. Hiking, backpacking, kayaking are some of my go-to activities when I have a chance to get away. Wood working, reading non-fiction, and gardening are some of my hobbies.  

My important life experiences, journeys, challenges and accomplishments include…

I can think of a number of people and experiences that have shaped me, but one of the more formative experiences was the year I spent as a teacher (and student!) in an under-resourced 2nd grade classroom. Those kids taught me so much about myself, about poverty, trauma, race, vulnerability, resilience, hope, pain and grief. Professionally, I have never experienced a more challenging year. Even though it has been almost 20 years, I often think of those kids and the various moments we shared. I am inspired, delighted and troubled in remembering. A few of the things I learned that significantly shape what I bring to Circles are:

  • Deep wounds often lead to behaviors that push people away, yet safe and caring relationships are critical to healing.
  • Powerlessness to change your situation is not only a bad thing.  It can be the driver of our willingness to reach out.
  • A friend that sticks with you through hard things and has the courage to love you and speak honestly and directly, even at the risk of hurting you, is a treasured gift.

I received a master class on these things that year I spent with seven and eight year olds. Now I get to continue to build on that learning in the friendships I have in Circles.

One Thing We Want Potential Circles Participants To Know Is…

I look forward to serving as the Midwest Regional Coach. My hope is that we can work together to develop rhythms and a culture that allow us to build trust, laugh and cry, and give and receive support.  If we do that, we will be better equipped to serve the folks with whom we have the privilege of working.