Anthony Simeone

Anthony Simeone is a speaker, writer, personal development coach, and self-described “hero advocate.” His mission is to show people how to use the hero’s journey as a framework to create a productive, engaged, and meaningful life every day.

He is the creator of Live The Hero, a program that provides a universal structure for approaching life as a dynamic, purpose-driven adventure. In addition to the primary inspiration of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, Live The Hero incorporates aspects of the humanities, psychology, sociology, neurobiology, and other disciplines. Anthony has been inspired by the work of Carl Jung, Phil Zimbardo, Viktor Frankl, Martin Seligman, Charles Duhigg, and Dr. John Medina, among many others.

Anthony grew up in what he calls a “stereotypically dysfunctional working-class family.” He suffered mental and physical abuse both at home and at school, which set him on a path of self-destructive behaviors. By the time he was in his 30’s, he was struggling with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and stress-induced heart problems.

It was during this dark time that Anthony had what he calls his “enough moment,” analogous to the supreme ordeal of death and rebirth in Campbell’s heroic cycle. In desperation, he fell back on his decades of study in literature, philosophy, and the social sciences. During his search for answers and a new direction, he rediscovered the transformative power of mythology, and the hero’s journey in particular.Anthony now dedicates himself to helping others find their own heroic will to conquer the burdens of mental illness, trauma, and toxic stress. He firmly believes the path he used to defeat his demons can be walked by everyone, no matter their background. 

A graduate of Rutgers University with a BA in English, Anthony lives in the shadow of the great city of Philadelphia.  When he's not “edutaining” audiences or putting fingers to keyboard, Anthony spends quality time with his wife and kids, or in the nearest forested area, or with his nose in a book. Sometimes all at once.
 

Phaedra McGaffey

Phaedra McGaffey was born and raised in the Pinckney/Brighton, MI area.  Phaedra is ten years old and loves drawing, school, swimming and writing.  The thing she loves most, though, is caring and helping others.  Here is how it started…in 2016 she saw a big accident that really worried her.  She decided that worrying was not enough; she wanted to figure out how to act. Through Girl Scouts she created “First Responders Jr” (FRJ) as part of her Bronze Award.  She did not do it to earn the award; she did it because she knew in her heart that helping people everywhere, regardless of her age or ability, was the right thing to do.

In 2017, when Phaedra and her family were driving home from a Memorial Day picnic there was another accident that that tugged at her desire to help.  Just before pulling into her neighborhood she realized that there were fire trucks and water everywhere, so she asked what was happening.  Her parents were not sure, yet.  Phaedra asked if they could find out, and the neighbors explained that a young couple that had recently moved into the neighborhood had lost everything as a result of a house fire while they were away for the day.  Phaedra wanted to find out if there was anything that she could do and if there was anything they needed to rebuild their life.  After getting a list of things they could use she set off to see if she could find them.  Phaedra reached out to local business owners and community partners in Brighton to ask if they could help.  In just a few short days the community filled her Dad’s truck with everything from clothes, shoes, work boots, free meals, gift cards and personal care needs!  She even found out the couple’s favorite Girl Scout cookie and made sure to include a case of Thin Mints.  By mobilizing her idea of First Responders Jr and seeking community support the young couple was able to begin the process of rebuilding!

Rudy Washington, IV

Rudy Washington IV. was born in Ann Arbor MI. Rudy is 12 years old and loves to swim, sing and play the drums. However, his biggest passion is helping others. In 2015, after reading that socks were the least donated but the most needed, Rudy founded Rudy’s Sock Drive, a 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Michigan. Through sock drives, Rudy collects new socks for the homeless. The socks are donated to shelters throughout SE Michigan.

However, on cold winter nights, you can find Rudy and his parents out walking the streets of Detroit giving out items to help keep the homeless warm. These items include, but are not limited to; hand and feet warmers, gloves, coats, hats, scarfs and packages of socks. All donated items must be new. One-night Rudy even walked a homeless man inside a local drug store and paid for his prescription with his last 11 dollars.

Shortly after starting his nonprofit, Rudy was bullied out of school. While being homeschooled, Rudy decided to turn tragedy into triumph. Rudy begin researching bullying, how it affects people, what to do if you are being bullied and what not to do. This is when Rudy’s No Bully Zone was birthed. Rudy now travels to elementary and middle schools raising awareness on the effects of bulling through school assemblies. This is made easy for him seeing that he loves public speaking.

Stosh D. Walsh

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Stosh D. Walsh’s journey to courage began when he was just 5 years old, and his father
committed suicide.  Moving toward that pain instead of away from it in subsequent years, he
realized an important truth: courage is not merely for overcoming hardship; courage is for
enriching the world.  As a speaker and facilitator, he invites individuals and organizations to
greater courage: specifically, to envision the world as it could be, then create that world.
Stosh has spent his career in support of this concept, working in both for-profit and non-profit
organizations before founding his own firm.  He began his career in traditional education
settings as a classroom teacher before working in university residence life and athletics.  From
there, he enjoyed nearly a decade with The Gallup Organization, where he contributed to the
best-selling Strengths Based Leadership as a member of the practice team, won several awards
as Gallup’s top presenter in his practice category, and worked with dozens of Fortune 500
clients. In 2014-15, he led the organizational development function for the largest credit union in
Illinois before founding Constant Organizational Development to serve the Leadership and
Employee Engagement needs of clients.

He has given 2 TEDx talks (“Lead Like They’re Dying” and “#30forothers”), and he is the author
of Along the Way: Leadership Stories from Everyday Life (2012), “Five Questions You Must Ask
Your Team” (Gallup Business Journal May 2013-subsequently named top read article of 2013),
and “Leadership is More Than the C-Suite” (Gallup Business Journal September 2013).  He is
currently writing a book about courage.

Stosh earned a BA in Education and a MA in Leadership.  His other interests include hiking,
photography and spending time with his wife and 2 children.

Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer is the founder and director of programming for Craft for Community, a volunteer center, arts exchange and language school located in a tiny fishing village in Northwestern Nicaragua. Jennifer is an artist with experience in high needs public schools. She has a passion for project-based learning and infusing the arts into everyday moments as a means to help bring people together and understand the world around them. Jennifer and her husband, a fellow Spanish public school teacher, wanted a change of pace from their busy lives in Denver. Through their experience traveling, they also saw a need for project-based, responsible tourism in Nicaragua. After a decade of teaching in Denver and Chicago, Jennifer, her husband and their one year old, decided to follow their dream. They sold most of their belongings, quit their jobs, and headed south to an impoverished village on the Pacific.  It is through their experiences and strengths in language and the arts that Craft for Community went from a dream to reality.  

Craft for Community was founded as a way to teach both villagers and travelers through authentic, project-based experiences in order to build skills and understand more of the world around them through travel and meaningful experiences. Craft for community brings groups of travelers to participate in projects in the local village thus encouraging responsible, sustainable tourism. It works with village leaders to teach students English, provides skills training for adults, and business development for local artisans, among many other projects. Through their love of culture, the arts and language, Jennifer and her family have created an outlet for travelers to make a positive impact on their community while showing them an authentic view of Nicaragua.