ABOUT US - WHO WE ARE & WHAT WE DO
Today’s climate is change. It is local, with networks connecting networks, reaching globally.
The Connection Partners facilitate change through effective engagement with community, government and business decision makers.
Since 1995, we have cultivated a climate of conversational leadership to enhance capacity among existing, under-utilized resources. We collaborate with individuals, organizations and communities.
We are dedicated capacity guides who practice individual and group learning as continuous, essential components of change. We recognize the intraconnections* between inner and outer actions. No matter how brilliant one may be, a person, organization or community cannot address today’s complex intrarelated* challenges alone.
*Intra means within in Latin. Inter is between. Since everything is connected, the more accurate words are intra-connections and intra-related. We are ONE. Words carry the power of intention.
Sharon Joy Kleitsch
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 synthesized her executive experiences at Citigroup with a Masters in Spirituality, inspiring individuals, grass-roots, and organizations to listen together in conversations that matter, leading to actions that make a difference.
Perpetually curious, Sharon Joy believes that we humans are evolving more and more rapidly into a greater awareness of who we truly are. Wake up calls are everywhere.
She connects the right people, resources and ideas based upon where the energies are, thinks critically about what’s emerging, and thoughtfully suggests directions.
Guided by the sciences of consciousness, living systems, fields and networks, Sharon Joy has a unique ability to ‘listen for the signals in the noise’, imagine potentials, and engage diverse perspectives for wiser choices. She invites leaders to play in sandboxes of possibilities. Heart-centered communications arise, shaping conscious collaborations to address concerns such as climate, wellness, education, and equity. Life is relationships - with others and with one’s self. Relationships change the world. They always have.
Sharon Joy is recognized internationally as a leader in organizing and facilitating small and large group processes. With a lifetime of experience, she recognizes the benefits of strategic conversational models and which best fit the opportunity. They include World Café, Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space, the Art of Hosting. Circle, and Asset Based Community Development. She facilitates timely conversations, co-creating environments to practice being fully present and authentic.
She holds a masters degree from Holy Names College in Oakland CA, as part of theologian Matthew Fox’s program. As an undergraduate, she was recognized as the outstanding sociology graduate at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Evolutionary biologist E O Wilson calls such unique individuals synthesizers.
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 an educator, certified International Institute of Restorative Practices facilitator and trainer, and advocate 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 has helped collaborations and organizations self-identify needs and assets, and directed initiatives to improve quality of life and well-being of individuals in the work place and in the community. She is a proponent of servant leadership principles and has trained faith-based and private community groups in leadership transformation.
Deb has worked with The Connection Partners to foster conversational leadership, collaboration, and sustainable resource sharing in the Tampa Bay region. She is currently teaching in a Pinellas County public high school and serves as an adjunct St. Petersburg College faculty member teaching Dual Enrollment Applied Ethics and Business law. She earned the Pinellas County School Board micro-credential as an equity champion at her school and serves as the restorative practices school lead facilitator.
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.
Argerie Vasilakes spans the worlds of business and scholarship to restore and redesign conditions for flourishing enterprises and thriving leaders. A seasoned organization development (OD) leader, she leads and consults on efforts in worldwide culture change, leadership development and living systems designs that meet all needs.
As an action researcher, she teamed with others in 2020 to study and write about how a group of people who live and work in St. Petersburg, Florida, used conversational leadership to increase vibrancy, compassion and peace across their city. In her role as adjunct professor of a socially conscious MBA program, Argerie created a course for “new story” human resource leaders.
In 2015 she participated at the UN in the launch of the Flourish Prizes to honor businesses which are agents of world benefit. She was the GOJO Organization Development Fellow from 2015 to 2016. She holds degrees in Education, Positive Organization Development and Change, and Communication along with certifications and honors in learning and OD practice, leadership, coaching and appreciative inquiry. Her writing includes, “Transforming Ourselves to Transform our Organizations,” “A Natural Way to Organize,” and several case studies on organizational and community thriving, including, “Is the Midwest Region of BP Oil Becoming a Learning Organization?”
Linda Sechrist is the Natural Awakenings Senior Staff Writer, Director of Community Outreach, and New Franchise Managing Editor as well as a member of the healthy lifestyle magazine’s national editorial team. Linda’s writing career has provided her with the rare opportunity to align her purpose with her passion to educate 3 million readers on Consciousness, the environment, and wellness. Graced with an avocation where her natural gifts and talents are used for the good of all, she has organized and hosted Rethinking Health Matters, an online radio show, as well as the first online Metabolic Revolution Syndrome Summit. A trained facilitator for Integrated Amrit Yoga Nidra, she is also a bestselling author published in All You Need Is Love, an e-book author published in the Inspired Living books, Wisdom of MidLife Women2 and Unleash Your Inner Magnificence. She also joined author Laurie McCammon and other women in co-authoring the Enough! How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word Guidebook.
Linda has been telling meaningful stories of change agents for 25 years. “From vast research and thousands of interviews, there are 4 things I know for certain—change is the only currency, there is no one answer to any problem, no one knows everything, and Consciousness is nudging each of us to awaken and begin coming together in community now.”
Bob Staretz is a former 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.
Marie Nelson (in memorium) The Connection Partners is sad to announce the passing of Marie Nelson. She was an advocate for inclusion and a grounded theory researcher, Marie Wilson Nelson was 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–had focused on how writing abilities develop, growth-focused assessment of learning, action research for professional development and teaching as a spiritual activity. Marie showed 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. She was a certified permaculture designer, Marie worked to reveal the positive shifts that occur when we replace economies of scarcity for most with classroom and financial economies of abundance for all.