The Think GREAT Experience is a podcast featuring dynamic guests who share their impactful moments of greatness.
Hosted by: author, speaker, and business coach, Erik Therwanger.
Episode #1 – Magnifying GREATNESS
Charlie Lawson, Owner of GCS Title
A GREAT Father, Teammate and Friend are 3 words at the end of the day that fuel me to strive to be better each day both personally and professionally. As the founder of GCS Title, our Vision has been to Enrich, Impact and Transform the lives of Our Team, Our Clients and Our Communities and how we do that is to focus on our daily Mission, which is Living with Purpose and Passion, with Positive Intention and Impact!!
Episode #2 – Meatheads
Chris Bell, Director, Producer, and Writer
Chris Bell is a director, producer and writer, known for his documentaries Bigger, Stronger, Faster*, Trophy Kids, and Prescription Thugs. His work is focused on the impact that society has on our consumption and addictions, especially to prescription drugs. Chris provides great insight on the ways that American culture forms our decision making. He continues to be an outspoken advocate for those suffering from addiction and their families.
Episode #3 – Road Warrior
Shawn Mingus, Mortgage Sales Executive at U.S. Bank
I represent a team of mortgage professionals that believe what we do is important and noble. We help people in all fifty states achieve, protect and sustain the American dream of homeownership. Therefore, it is our duty to deliver the best experience and best possible outcome for our valued clients. I have prospered in many ways during the last 28 years in the mortgage industry, so today I’m paying it back by helping develop the next generation of great leaders. Regardless of industry or occupation, our brightest future is dependent upon our ability to move fast and innovate. Those two things cannot happen without people working together with the highest levels of collaboration. And collaboration does not happen without trust, shared objectives and a culture so rich that EVERY TEAMMATE becomes a leader. I enjoy exploring these topics of life because they point to a future where hope and prosperity are found. On a personal note, I am a father, a husband, a road warrior (pre-COVID), a martial artist and a veteran-focused philanthropist.
Episode #4 – Triumphant
Jasmine Powers, CEO of Jasmine Powers Multimedia
Jasmine Powers is a product marketing and revenue operations consultant who supports SaaS companies, digital agencies, and e-commerce businesses with their communications strategy and systems to help them attract, close, and upsell their ideal customers with streamlined, efficient processes. She is a former PR and ad agency professional who is a published writer and who has gotten herself or her clients featured in industry and national outlets including Essence, Huffington Post, Ragan, Reader’s Digest, Brit & Co, Shondaland, and PBS. She currently resides in New Orleans.
Episode #5 – Patiently Persistent
Anita Drentlaw, President/CFO of New Market Bank
Anita Drentlaw is the President/CFO of New Market Bank. She began her career at the bank in October of 2002 as the Operations Officer after working for McGladrey & Pullen as a Financial Institution Tax Accountant. Over the years, she also held the position of Cashier and CFO. In January 2014, she took over as President/CFO. She is fortunate to be the 4th generation of her family to lead the bank. Her background includes earning a BA in Accounting from the University of St. Thomas in 2000, receiving her Certified Public Accounting certificate in March of 2001 and graduating from the Graduate School of Banking in Boulder, CO in 2010. She currently serves as the Vice Chairman for the Independent Community Bankers of MN (ICBM). She also services as the Vice Chair of the Consumer Financial Services Subcommittee for the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). She has also been very involved in her community and several non-profits over the years including the Prior Lake-Savage Optimist Club (currently on the board and oversees the high school mentorship program the club provides), St. Michael’s School and Church, board member of Chase’s Warrior Foundation (provides adaptive equipment to kids with special needs), mentor to high school student through the MNCAPS (MN Center for Advanced Professional Studies), member of the Dakota Scott Counties Workforce Board, and the Lakeville Chamber of Commerce (chair of annual fall gala and member of membership luncheon committee). She enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 daughters.
Episode #6 – We’re All Human
Kari Switala, Owner of Wild Fig Marketing Inc. and Author
Kari Switala lives in Farmington, MN with her husband, Kevin; her sons, Max & Sam; and her furry-legged children, Lucy, Murphy & Steve. She is the chief creative officer at Wild Fig Marketing, a boutique marketing firm that provides targeted online marketing solutions for small – medium sized businesses
When she’s not writing or working, you’ll likely find her at her cabin in northern MN, where she loves paddleboarding; boating with all of her boys; and reading books while relaxing on the dock with a glass of chardonnay.
Some fun facts…
She once rode a cow when she was 5
She played volleyball with her intra-mural college team against prison guards in a maximum-security prison in England
She sang “I Will Survive” with a band in Paris
She is terrified of snakes and despises black licorice
She learned how to play the ukulele two years ago along with her 13-year-old son
Episode #8 – Building a Healthy Team
Terri Mattson, Health & Wellness Coach/Founder of Beginning Today Lifestyle Wellness
Terri Mattson has been in the coaching field for over 14 years and founded Beginning Today Lifestyle Wellness in 2016. She is a Wellness Consultant for corporations and senior communities, is a Certified Integrative Wellness & Life Coach working holistically with mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness and is a health and wellness personal coach, mentor and author. After leading members to successful weight loss with a well-known company she founded her own business working with companies and individuals championing them in the journey towards best self.
She believes today is the first day of the rest of your life. As a motivational speaker, she is engaging and educates, inspires and motivates you to make big changes one small step at a time. Standing out as a company that cares is critical to keeping your top employees. Having a wellness program onsite engages, motivates and educates your team, transforming your work place to a work family.
Terri is passionate about helping others be the best they can personally be beginning today. She’s an accountability partner, helping you build confidence while making changes in a doable, approachable way. She lives with her husband and is the mother of four now grown boys.
Episode #10 – ROI – Return on Impact
Joe Schmit, award-winning broadcaster, Speaker, author & Impact Leadership expert
Joe Schmit is an award-winning broadcaster, community leader, author and popular keynote speaker. As a sports broadcaster, he has covered every major sporting event in the past 4 decades and has interviewed many of the biggest names in sports. He joined KSTP-TV in 1985 and has won 18 Emmys from the National Television Academy. In 2020, Joe was awarded
The Silver Circle designation by the Upper Midwest Chapter of the Emmys for extraordinary contributions to the broadcasting industry. He was also honored with a National Headliner Award in 2001.
Before joining KSTP-TV in 1985, he was Sports Director for WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His career also includes positions as a weekend sports anchor for KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Joe earned his degree in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Joe is also an author of two books: “Silent Impact” and “The Impact Blueprint.” In 2019 Joe was also inducted into the Minnesota Speakers Hall of Fame and earned his CSP designation (Certified Speaking Professional) from the National Speakers Association. Less than 15 percent of NSA members worldwide have achieved the CSP designation.
Joe is a long-time youth mentor committed to advocating for a number of community organizations with Big Brothers and Big Sisters is at the top of his list. He is a past president and board member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Twin Cities. He has raised over $3 million for the organization through the Joe Schmit Celebrity Golf Tournament which had a 16-year run. In 2000, he was the winner of the Jim Kelly Distinguished Service Award from Big Brothers and Big Sisters and in 2001, a winner of the Odyssey Award for commitment
to youth mentorship. He was also honored as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) Community
Leader of the Year in 2005. In 2018 Joe was honored with the Mike Givens Distinguished Service Award for The Mind over Matter Foundation.
Joe and his wife Laura also chaired a $4.5 million dollar capital campaign for VEAP, the largest
food shelf in Minnesota. He is past president and board member of the Fairway Foundation and has contributed time to many other charitable organization
Episode #11 – Send in the Marine
Tyler Kistner, Kistner for Congress
Tyler Kistner was born and raised in Minnesota. He recently got off active duty after nine years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Tyler served in the elite Marine Special Operations Forces, the Marine Raiders.
He came from humble beginnings where he learned the values of faith, family, and hard work. He attended Champlin Park High School, where he met his high school sweetheart and now wife, Marie. Tyler graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s degree in History.
He later went back to school and earned a Masters of Arts in International Relations from New England College.
Shortly after graduation, Tyler commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps to fulfill his passion and desire to give back and serve this great nation. He has carried with him that sense of servant leadership and faith through his time in the U.S. Marine Corps and Special Operations Command to serve others and our country before himself.
Tyler served on four overseas tours, commanding over 500 U.S. and partner nation personnel on numerous counterterrorism and counter China / Russia aggression operations, maintaining command and control over several Special Operations programs totaling over $100 million in budget and assets. Tyler operated in high stress situations where he maintained command and control in complex and chaotic environments, orchestrating several initiatives simultaneously to achieve mission success. Tyler gained a substantial amount of foreign policy experience during his time in the Marines.
Tyler and his wife, Marie, live in Prior Lake with their three-year-old daughter, Elodie, with a baby boy on the way.
Episode #12 – Broadcasting Greatness
Phil Mackey, Sports talk host for SKOR North, Director of Digital Content Development for Hubbard Radio
Episode #13 – Improving Your Meat Suit
Dr. Beth Westie, Doctor of Chiropractic, Author, Speaker, Women’s Health & Nutrition Expert – Founder of Eat for Your Cycle & Nutrition for Your Hormones
Dr. Beth is the author of the Best Selling book, The Female Fat Solution, the creator of the 12 Week Female Fat Solution Challenge, the Eat for Your Cycle™ Method, and the host of The Female Health Solution Podcast. She has made it her mission to change the way women view their health. Traveling the country to educate and empower women to take their health into their own hands, she uses nutrition to help women work with the natural cycle of their bodies to achieve lasting weight loss results.
Episode #14 – Showing up for Greatness
Episode #15 – Nonverbal Superpowers
Blanca Cobb, Body Language Expert, Virtual Speaker, TV Personality and Nonverbal Communications Analyst
My training in body language started when I was a little girl, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I watched people a lot. I paid close attention to faces, movements, and I listened for changes in tones of voice. By watching people, I protected myself. When I figured out when someone was getting angry I was able to get away from the danger. By reading tells, I became an expert at anticipating bad situations. So, you see, I didn’t become a people watcher by choice, but rather from abusive circumstances.
I never imagined my innate sense to watch people’s nonverbal cues combined with my master’s in psychology would lead to a career as a body language expert. I trained with leading experts in body language and detecting deception. Over the course of my career, I’ve been quoted in over 200+ articles and 90+ world-wide publications, such as Cosmopolitan, Oprah, Business Insider, and Daily Mail UK.
You know that saying, “being at the right place at the right time”? Well, being at the trial of former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, launched my media career. It was a paparazzi moment, swarmed by reporters wanting my take on Edwards’ body language. This interview launched over 930+ appearances on national TV shows such as The Steve Harvey Show, CNN, TODAY Show, Dr. Drew, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, and weekly on the CBS affiliate WFMY News 2.
clubhouse – @blancacobb
Episode #16 – Moving Forward with Resiliency
Tasha Schuh, Speaker, Author, and Resiliency Expert
Survivor, believer, fighter – Tasha Schuh is an inspiration and hope for all who face life’s challenges. Tasha’s life changed dramatically when she was 16 years old; she was in an accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. Today she has accomplished more than she could have ever dreamed. She has received numerous awards including The National Rehabilitation Champion Award and The Hometown Hero Award. In addition to authoring the books My Last Step Backward and My Next Move Forward, she also founded The Power of PATH Program which serves to expand Tasha’s message, as well as educates middle and high school students about mental health and resilience. Tasha travels and shares her story of resilience and triumph over tragedy at schools, conferences and organizations. Tasha resides with her husband Doug in Ellsworth, Wisconsin.
Episode #17 – Consuming Positivity
Lisa Varga – Actress, Producer, Writer, Director, Model, Host, Creative Director, Personal Coach, and CEO
Lisa Varga is an award-winning actress, host, producer, and writer. She has over twenty years of experience in the entertainment industry and has created a trusted brand name for herself in film and television, as well as in the sports world. Ms. Varga has been successful in front of, and behind the camera, and is the CEO and owner of her own production company, Lisa Varga Entertainment. Her most notable acting roles in film and television include: “Homeland” (Showtime), “Game Time: Tackling the Past”, (NBC), “Marley and Me”, (20th Century Fox), and “Armed and Deadly”, where Ms. Varga won the best actress award at the Movieville International Film Festival in Sarasota, FL. Ms. Varga was also a recurring host on HSN (Home Shopping Network) and is a model and spokesperson for several high-end brands.
After having a successful Hollywood career in film and television, Ms. Varga moved from Los Angeles, back to her hometown of South Bend, Indiana to be closer to her family after her brother was diagnosed with cancer. Her passion for family, community, and storytelling enriched her career path, and is the driving force behind her success. Ms. Varga has an extensive background in producing, writing, hosting, and creative development, and in her spare time, she also manages her own charitable organizations. Ms. Varga enjoys giving her heart, time, and talents to numerous local, and national charities. She believes in giving back for all the success and blessings she has had over the years.
Ms. Varga is currently the host, creator, and producer of a sports series called “Beyond The Offseason”. It’s a series of short films about athletes, coaches, and teams who give back to worthy causes, individuals, and charities during their offseason. The project opened a door to Ms. Varga becoming the current co-host of a new show called “HIS Story” on His Glory TV. The show spotlights athletes, music stars, and entertainers who share their “God stories” along their journey. Ms. Varga is also involved in designing a clothing line connected to the show and it will be ready to launch in the spring of 2021. Ms. Varga is also currently filming a documentary, and writing a book. In her spare time, she teaches acting classes and workshops to Hollywood hopefuls in small towns across America and Internationally. She is an animal lover, creative at heart, has a love for family, and a Christian
Episode #18 – You Are Enough
Tony Taylor – Motivational Speaker and Owner of Unlimited Safety Solutions
Tony served as US Marine, worked as a Fire Captain with the Department of Defense, and as Corporate Executive.
His leadership seminars mirror the many lessons Tony has garnered during his life’s endeavors. He teaches leading with compassion and obtaining set goals without compromising other people.
As a highly requested Keynote Speaker and leading authority on overcoming adversity and authentic leadership for audiences as large as 10,000—Tony inspires audiences to meet the challenges of the world around them. He highlights the importance of believing in yourself and surviving at all costs.
Episode #19 – Become an Expert Shipbuilder
Bob Schlichte – Keynote Speaker on the Art of Shipbuilding
A self-proclaimed introvert, Bob Schlichte learned to push outside his comfort zone to refine the art of shipbuilding: Friendships, relationships, partnerships, and sponsorships. Bob learned at a young age how to build his ships, selling pots and pans door-to-door to make his way through college. Those relationships he established and what he learned about himself in that role helped launch his successful career and has brought him to his current role at Grand Casino/MLCV, the VP of Strategic Relationships.
Bob has built ships with Chambers of Commerce, politicians, business owners, and executives over the years. He knows how to develop and grow a solid foundation that will encourage your ships to push you in the direction you want to go in life. Bob helps spearhead a leadership conference at Grand Casino Hinckley that is second to none in the quality of speakers and information presented, mixed in with humor and fun. With more than 27 years in the Grand Casino group, he knows how to fill a room.
Episode #20 – Tackle Your Challenges
Laura Brown – Owner of the MN Vixen
Laura first became involved with the Vixen as a player in 2013 and then moved into the ownership role in 2014. With a life-long passion for football plus a strong business background, Laura has been able to blend the two into a successful mix accomplishing great strides with the Vixen, and has been named to the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Owner’s Board.
Under her leadership, the Vixen have tripled their roster size, secured multiple division titles, two conference titles, and appeared in two national championship games. Additionally, Laura was able to secure television coverage for all Vixen home and away games; a first for women’s football. Furthermore, Laura represented the Vixen at the Women’s World Football Games in 2017 and was invited to speak on sports diplomacy by the American Embassy in Sweden in 2019.
Being able to positively impact one of the founding teams of modern women’s tackle football is the utmost gratifying aspect of her role and her paramount objective. She believes the sports environment, in particular football, has a strong team component that permeates thru a common goal creating a powerful setting that can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. She is proud to be part of a sports league that is for women and run by women.
Laura earned a Doctorate in Pharmacy and also a Baccalaureate in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota. Outside of the Vixen, she can be found working another job she loves as a clinical emergency room pharmacist or spending time with her husband, James.
Episode #21 – Serial Greatness from a Military Spouse
Moni Jefferson – CEO Cofounder of AMSE
Moni is a serial entrepreneur and Active Duty Air Force Spouse. She is the owner of Dog Tags and Heels, a PR and social media agency where she works with national and celebrity clients to build brand evangelism and social impact. Most notably with Blue Star Families, Heroes at Home, and Military Spouse Advocacy Network and Semper K9.
Founder of MilSpouse Creative and Entrepreneur the global networking community for MilSpouse entrepreneurs full of mentorship and resources.
Monis Recent venture as the CEO of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs provides a global digital membership for military spouses to start, scal and sustain their business.
Moni holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in Communications and Public Relations and is a member of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Inc.
Episode #22 – The Concierge Mindset
Sara-ann Kasner – National Concierge Association Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Concierge Services by Sara-ann LLC
Sara-ann Kasner has provided corporate concierge services for multiple Class A office towers throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for over 25 years. In 2017, Sara-ann established “Concierge Services by Sara-ann LLC.”
An award-winning professional, Sara-ann is devoted to the Concierge profession. As Founder and CEO of the National Concierge Organization, she has traveled the world speaking to hospitality groups about the Concierge industry. Her passion is helping others understand the unlimited resources and value of a successful career as a Concierge professional.
After accepting a position as a corporate Concierge, Sara-ann sought out others in the corporate Concierge profession throughout Minnesota and the United States to enhance services provided to her clientele. From 1993-1998 Sara-ann served as President of the Twin Cities Concierge Association.
In 1998, Sara-ann founded the National Concierge Association (NCA), a world-class international networking organization with members throughout the US and Canada. Sara-ann continues to serve as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and official spokesperson. Sara-ann oversees every aspect of the organization and has been instrumental in creating the National Concierge Association accreditation and recognition programs: NCA Concierge Certification, NCA Accredited Associate, and NCA Endorsed Partner as well as the NCA National Awards. Philanthropically Sara-ann encourages NCA partnerships with such causes as St. Jude’s Medical, the American Cancer Society and the Tubman Center to name a few of the organizations currently aligned with the National Concierge Association.
Where Twin Cities Magazine named Sara-ann Kasner “Corporate Concierge of the Year’ in 1996 and in 1997 Sara-ann was presented with the prestigious Gold Key award by Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine.
Over the length of her career, Sara-ann has been actively involved in the Minneapolis-St. Paul community. For five years Sara-ann served as a board member of the Great American History Theater in St. Paul. As a committee member for the Greater Minneapolis BOMA Best of Boma program from 2013- 2016, Sara-ann was instrumental in creating the annual awards script and enlisting local celebrity talent.
In 2018, Sara-ann worked with the NFL as a consultant for the 2018 Super Bowl Minneapolis VIP Committee for which she was directly responsible in enlisting local Concierge professionals to form “The NFL White Glove Committee” providing a high level of services to visiting NFL team VIP’s. In addition, Sara-ann contracted with the Minnesota Vikings to provide Concierge services during the event.
Sara-ann Kasner is regarded as an expert on Concierge services and frequently quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the Japan Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Money Magazine, and “O” (Oprah Winfrey magazine) and USA Today. Sara-ann has also been a frequent guest on RM World of Travel featured on a national radio program with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa, speaking on the topic of Global Concierge services.
Sara-ann Kasner is in awe of her three sons and absolutely adores her 5 grandchildren and 8 Great-grandchildren. In her spare time, she is an avid reader of historical novels and biographies, an amateur gardener and enjoys traveling with the love of her life, husband David Kasner.
Episode #23 – Inspiring Greatness through Tragedy
Aaron Horn – Executive Director at NewBoCo & Co-Founder/President of Beat Cancer Today
Aaron Horn is the Executive Director at The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo) in Cedar Rapids, which is the parent nonprofit of the Iowa Startup Accelerator and DeltaV Code School. Aaron earned his degrees in Management Information Systems and Entrepreneurial Studies at Iowa State University. He worked for Becker Underwood, an Ames based global ag company, for 12 years, and after its sale to BASF, he moved to Eastern Iowa to join a healthcare software startup as their Chief Information Officer. Aaron then spent two and a half years as Director of IT for the Iowa Interstate Railroad before moving from NewBoCo’s Board Chair to full-time Chief Operating Officer in 2017 and then Executive Director in 2020. He also serves on the Board of Directors for nonprofits Miracle Travel Works in Des Moines, Candlelighters NYC in New York City, and Beat Cancer Today in Cedar Rapids.
Twitter: @beatcancer, @newboco, @hornit
Episode #24 – Seeing Your Destination
Dr. Amy Rudser – Owner of Advanced Eye Care Professionals
Dr. Amy M. Rudser is originally from Northfield, MN. After graduating from Northfield High School she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Olaf College. She received her Doctor of Optometry degree from Indiana University School of Optometry. During optometry school, Dr. Amy Rudser was elected by her peers to serve as the national American Optometric Student Association president. Professional associations Dr. Rudser is currently involved with include: American Optometric Association, Minnesota Optometric Association, and the Lakeville Area Chamber of Commerce.
She opened Advanced Eye Care Professionals cold in October of 2006 as a private practice and continues to practice in Lakeville at this office. Her professional interests are in primary patient care, contact lenses, diagnosis, and treatment and management of: glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic eye disease. Dr. Rudser also performs infant eye exams (through the InfantSEE program) and co-manages several different ocular surgery procedures with other local ophthalmologists in the greater Twin Cities area. She also does Lion’s Club eye exams and glasses.
She enjoys spending time with her 2 daughters, 4 nephews and their families around the Twin Cities area. Other hobbies include: reading, traveling and trying new restaurants around the Twin Cities area.
Episode #25 – Serving Up Greatness
Mark Reese – Owner of B-52 Burgers and Brew
Episode #26 – Surviving Your Challenges
Holly Hoffman, Professional Speaker & Author
Holly Hoffman is an author, motivational speaker, and television personality. She is best known for competing on the reality competition show Survivor Nicaragua, and for her books Write Yourself a Note and Your Winner Within.
Episode #27 – Leap of Faith
Laura Osnes – American Actress and Singer
LAURA OSNES rose to stardom after winning NBC’s reality tv competition “Grease: You’re The One That I Want”, earning her the role of Sandy in the Broadway revival of Grease at the age of 21. She quickly became the go-to ingenue of the Great White Way, starring as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes, Bonnie Parker in Bonnie & Clyde (Tony Award nomination), Cinderella in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Tony-Award nomination), and most recently, Julia Trojan in Bandstand, which was professionally filmed and released in movie theaters nationwide via Fathom Events. Osnes has charmed millions in her three Hallmark Channel original movies, One Royal Holiday(2020), A Homecoming For The Holidays (2019), and In The Key Of Love(2019). She has also been seen on television in Fosse/Verdon (F/X), Dynasty (CW), and Elementary (CBS). Her crystal clear and powerful soprano regularly graces symphony halls and cabaret venues around the globe, including filmed performances with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Live from Lincoln Center (PBS), A Capitol Fourth (PBS), and The Kennedy Center Honors (CBS). She co-created and performs in the popular concert series, Broadway Princess Party, which has toured over 25 cities and garnered over 20 million views from videos on YouTube. In addition to hearing her voice on several original Broadway cast recordings, Laura has two solo albums, “Dream A Little Dream” and “If I Tell You.”
Episode #28 – Crushing Your Goals
Peter Johnson – CEO and Technical Director at Valence Protective Coatings
Episode #29 – Congressional Greatness
Joe E. Collins III – Joe Collins for Congress
Joe Collin’s 13 years of patriotic service with the United States Navy has instilled into him a strong sense of duty, commitment and leadership. Joe’s formulative years growing up in South-Central Los Angeles has braced him for his new role, becoming the next U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district, to be the impact voice of change for his beloved community.
From his early upbringing on 104th and Normandie, Joe knows this district all too well: lack of quality education, unsafe gang activity, alarming high crime rate and rampant homelessness. Returning one fateful Sunday afternoon from his grandfather’s community church, a drive-by shooting incident left bullets riddled through the family house, piercing windows and into the cushions of the sofa, pressing Joe Collins’ mother into a steadfast decision for her children’s sake, one that changed their lives forever. She immediately decided to move her family to a rural locale outside of Dallas where Joe’s mother still teaches today.
Upon finishing high school in Texas, Joe made the most pivot-able decision of his life, choosing a career path of service to his country by enlisting in the U.S. Navy.
Rising eventually to the rank of Petty Officer First Class, Joe began his career specializing as a naval jet aviation mechanic, working on and then training thousands of sailors on aircraft including the F-18 Super Hornet fighter, E-6 Mercury Airborne Command Post, and MH-60 Sea Hawk Assault Helicopter. As a leader in uniform he obtained several military and civic certifications, becoming a licensed financial planning professional and a certified counselor for rape and sexual assault victims. While earning numerous awards and commendations, Joe embraced his role as a top Navy recruiter whereby he had the honor of jump-starting the careers of many who have since gone on to become fine American leaders. Joe served his country with distinction during the successful campaign of Operation Iraqi Freedom and as he moved on from the Navy in 2017, Joe’s accumulated wealth of experience qualifies him to run for Congress. Joe knows he can better serve the American people and become a positive role model for young people within the inner city by bringing his distinctive leadership skill sets to the table by directly representing them.
After the divisiveness and rancorous rhetoric of the 2016 election, Joe empathized with many disenfranchised Americans, feeling the stinging aftermath of that highly polarized climate that continues to be exhibited today. Joe recognizes several alarming factors about the country’s current state of affairs: the media’s role in escalating unwarranted public anger; the gap between party lines that has become much more difficult to bridge; the lack of politicians listening to their constituents with an empathetic ear; and, with most politicians simply talking without purpose or a plan for the future.
Joe E. Collins III, has already taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. His compelling decision to run for office and serve as congressional representative in defending those without a voice who live, work and do business in California’s 43rd District, was easy for Joe. He earnestly and un-waveringly advocates for fair treatment, equality, and respect for all citizens of our great country and community. Americans deserve a leader who will raise a voice and fight for them, and Californians need a leader who will bring integrity and opportunity back to the South Los Angeles community.
Episode #30 – Olympic Greatness
Kim Rhodenbaugh Lewallen – Olympian, Motivational Speaker and Writer
Kim Rhodenbaugh Lewallen was born in Cincinnati and is one of eight children, all who swam competitively. She recorded five national breaststroke titles, including setting the Ohio state highschool record in the 200 IM (Individual Medley) and the National record in the 100 breaststroke at the 1982 State Meet. Also in 1982, she competed in the World Aquatics Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador, winning Silver Medals in both the 100m breaststroke & the 4x100m medley relay. The following year she competed in the 1983 Pan Pacific Games in Toyko, Japan. There she would win Gold in the 4x100m medley relay and also picking up a Silver medal in the 100m breaststroke and Bronze in the 200m breaststroke. She had a near repeat performance in the 1983 Pan American Games in Venezuela. Gold in the 4x100m medley relay, Bronze in both the 100m breaststroke and the 200m breaststroke. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, she represented the United States in the 200m breaststroke finishing 8th. She went on to swim competitively at the University of Texas. As a Longhorn, she continued her winning ways becoming a three-time NCAA Champion from 1985-87. In 1987 she joined the World University Games, and captured Gold in the 4x100m medley relay as the US team captain. Also in 1987, she appeared on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box, honoring her national breaststroke titles. In 1989, she received her Bachelor of Science in Speech Communications. Kim is married to Nolan Lewallen and together they have 7 children and 5 grandchildren. Kim coached and taught swimming for close to 30 years and is currently a motivational speaker and author of “Master of the Mask.”
Facebook: Kim Rhodenbaugh Lewallen
Episode #31 – Take Charge of Greatness
Kendall Qualls – President of TakeCharge
Kendall Qualls is the President of TakeCharge. TakeCharge strives to unite Americans regardless of background toward a shared history and common set of beliefs. At TakeCharge, they celebrate the idea of the American dream and encourage people working to achieve it.
Mr. Qualls leads an organization that inspires and educates black and other minority communities to take charge of their own lives and not to rely on government and politicians for redemption and prosperity.
Mr. Qualls has a unique vantage point to convey that message and to plant the seeds of change desperately needed. During his childhood, Mr. Qualls lived with his divorced mother and siblings in public housing projects of Harlem, NY in the late 1960s. Before middle school, Mr. Qualls left NYC to live with his father who lived in a trailer park in Oklahoma. Neither of his parents finished high school. Despite the challenges and turmoil of his early life, Mr. Qualls worked full-time to pay for college, served as an officer in the U.S. Army, earned three graduate degrees including an MBA from the University of Michigan. He worked his way up the ranks at several Fortune 100 healthcare companies before he became Global Vice President of an $850M business unit.
Mr. Qualls champions the principles of meritocracy and supports the notion that free enterprise, and the private sector are the fastest and most equitable way to lift people from poverty to prosperity including black Americans.
Mr. Qualls has been married to his wife, Sheila for 35-years and they have five children together. He was a mentor at Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge. He serves on the Board for Lundstrum’s Performing Arts Center in North Minneapolis as well as Hope Farm School, a school for at-risk boys from Minneapolis.