Rasur Foundation International Board Members

Rita Marie Johnson


Educator, author, speaker, and award-winning innovator Rita Marie Johnson has been sharing her method worldwide for over 15 years.  She discovered a synergy between empathy and insight that maximizes social-emotional intelligence, eliminates unnecessary suffering and leads to life-enriching choices.  This epiphany resulted in the Connection Practice, which works for people of all ages and from all walks of life. 

The Connection Practice won the Ashoka Changemakers Innovation Award: Building a More Ethical Society, chosen from 79 projects in 32 countries. In 2015, Rita Marie wrote Completely Connected: Uniting Our Empathy and Insight for Extraordinary Results, an Amazon bestseller in Conflict Resolution and in Communication and Social Skills, which has been endorsed by Eileen Rockefeller and President Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  In 2016, the book won a Nautilus Award in the Psychology category. Now the Connection Practice is used by individuals, schools, faith-based communities, non-profits and businesses and is spreading around the world.

For a short bio, click here. For a detailed bio, click here. She lives in Gilroy, California.  For more on our founder.  

Leigh Files


Leigh Files, the board’s Chairman, has been a board member since 2014. She has retired as program manager at Texas Instruments Incorporated and is also on the board of directors for the Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. She lives in Texas.

Shari Holland


Shari Holland is a founding board member and the Parliamentarian and current Secretary of the Board. She has a master’s in Public Administration and lives in Missouri.

David McArthur


The Rev. David McArthur, J. D., although currently retired, has served as an attorney, Asst. Attorney General, Unity minister, and speaker, trainer and director for HeartMath.  He has been involved with the Connection Practice for many years and is the author of Your Spiritual Heart and co-author of The Intelligent Heart.  He lives in Washington.

Dana Garnett

Dana Garnett helps owners of family and family-like businesses prevent emotional storms from wiping out their business. Dana is a Credentialed Mediator by the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association for civil and family cases, a Conflict Strategist, and a CPA. She is the founder of her private practice Mindful Strategy, LLC, which merges her Big 8 Accounting and International Fortune 100 experience with vastly acquired global life lessons. Dana empowers her clients by imparting real-time, in-the-moment conflict management skills which enable them to swiftly and effectively handle whatever business or life throws them. Key results include increased productivity, creative problem-solving, greatly reduced stress, and improved business, family and social dynamics. Dana speaks to local, state and national business forums.

Lauren Arnold


Lauren Arnold works in public accounting and is the owner of Tantor Culture Consultants, a company founded to provide trauma-informed organizational training. She is a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach & a Certified Critical Incident Stress Debriefer. Her specialized work regarding the effects of stress & trauma in First Responders has been presented internationally.
Lauren was inspired to advocate trauma-informed training and education after realizing the negative effects her own unresolved trauma had on her relationships and career.

Tarek M Mourad

Business Coach

Tarek M Mourad specializes in simplifying the complex and in bringing out the best in people and businesses so that they can become the best versions of themselves
Mr. Mourad is an entrepreneur business coach that owns Soaring Revenues in Santa Clara. He is focused on helping businesses improve their customer experience and bottom line. As an instructor in OakTree Institure, Mr. Mourad helps non-profits with their strategic plans in weekend retreats. His professional experience has been in technical leadership positions in software projects and group management. He is a mentor, coach and transformational speaker. He enjoys speaking about personal development and transformation topics as well as topics related to Islam
Mr. Mourad has over forty years of experience in business and management.
He has served as a Director of Operational Excellence in charge of improving business processes at two offices of about 200 technical employees and managers. He also has been a manager with thirty years of progressive growth and development from Project Engineer to Staff Engineer to Engineering Manager, with emphasis on delivery of Energy Market and Management Systems, Computer Applications, System Integration and Customer Interface.
Mr. Mourad has managed individual projects (both short and long term), among which are the implementation of the ISO 9001 procedures in the ABB office of Santa Clara. He has also managed integration projects to implement new software tools into the business. All these projects involved managing individuals and managing the budget.
Mr. Mourad has also been involved in community development efforts since 1982. He has served on the board of a community based religious organization in various capacities for approximately ten years. He has also been one of the key founders of Granada Islamic School, a private religious school, in 1987. Mr. Mourad has served on the board of Granada Islamic School from 1989 to 1999.
Mr. Mourad has also been involved in several key committees in the MCA community. He has served on the Executive Board and the Board of Trustees. Since 2001, Mr Mourad has been directly involved with outreach activities to help surrounding communities understand Islam and Muslims. He currently teaches the Discover Islam series at MCA for all interested in understanding Islam.

For more information, please contact info@connectionpractice.org.

Rasur Foundation International Advisory Board

Lynne Dowler

Retired Educator

Lynne Dowler has been on the board since 2013. She is a retired educator and serves on the board of Empower American Children. She lives in Texas.

Philip M. Hellmich

The Shift Network

Philip M. Hellmich is a thought leader in creating a new narrative of peace, from inner peace to international peacebuilding.  As the Director of Peace at The Shift Network, Philip is the chief architect of the Summer of PeaceYoga Day Summit and World Peace Library – online global forums that seek to inspire, inform and involve people in the many ways that peace is emerging around the world. He also is the co-lead faculty of the Peace Ambassador Training.  He lives in California.

Rasur Foundation International Staff

Ellen Marie Anderson, Ph.D.
Director of Education


Ellen Marie Anderson bridges the worlds of science, education, and practical psychology. She has an undergraduate degree in German and a graduate degree in physical chemistry. Ellen retired from a career as a chemist at the Food and Drug Administration and as Executive Director of The Center for Soulful Living. In addition to her role with the Connection Practice, she is also the Executive Director for The Conscious Soul. Ellen is dedicated to inclusive leadership, loving service, and empowered action.

Kelsey Visser
Director of Parent Training


Kelsey Visser has her M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University in Washington, D.C. and is a Florida Supreme Court Certified County Court Mediator with over ten years of experience in teaching and training. Her primary focus has been peace and conflict resolution education and she’s had the opportunity to explore this topic on both the local and international level through her work with various nonprofits and organizations. Now, as a parent of two young children, she is passionate about also fostering peace in the home and hopes to help others learn and share the Connection Practice in her role as Director of Parent Training. 

Yumi Morita
Director of International Outreach


Yumi Morita is a Master Connection Practice Trainer. She founded Rasur Japan in 2016, which officially became incorporated in 2017.  There are 38 Japanese Connection Practice trainers as of January 2019.  Yumi speaks Japanese, English and some Spanish. She is passionate about spreading the Connection Practice in the world.  She is the author of more than 10 books in Japanese and is an international speaker on health, environment and peace. 

Graduate, Ochanomizu University, Letters and Education Department

Performing Arts (Dance Education)

CNVC  Certified Trainer Candidate

Ayako Nozawa, MA in Counseling, Ed. D. in Holistic Education
Director of International Teacher Training
Master Connection Practice, Master Curriculum Instructor


Aya Nozawa is an experienced holistic educator (and former counselor) for 30 years, has shared the Connection Practice with over 300 educators in the USA, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and has trained 60 Japanese Connection Practice Curriculum Instructors for day care, home school community, K-12, college and graduate school staffs/professionals. She was an academic facilitator in the Hiroshima peace education program, Oleander Initiative, wrote an academic article on the Connection Practice in education in 2017 and has made 6 presentations in international holistic education conferences in 5 countries. Aya is fascinated by the power of the Connection Practice, always ready to help it be integrated in an educational setting worldwide.

Maki Nakamura
Director of Global Model Development

Maki Nakamura has a BA from Waseda University and MBA from Business Breakthrough University. She has more than 30 years experience in the retail and supply chain management industry. She served as an executive for 10 years in two global companies. Maki learned the Connection Practice in May 2020 and became a certified Trainer in September 2020. She also left her executive role to build her own companies in 2020. She is passionate about sharing the Connection Practice and Nonviolent Communication and also contributes to local communities in Japan. Since August 2021, she has served as the board director of a Japanese retail company.

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Sheila Johnson

Director of Faith-Based Training


Sheila Johnson leads the faith-based arm of The Connection Practice. She completed seminary after 30 years as psychology professor and counselor. Sheila passionately serves as a catalyst to ignite the flames which motivate humankind in remembering the true depth of their connection with one another. Her favorite quote is, “What you can feel, you can heal.”

Sheila’s degrees are from U.C. Davis, and her studies toward a Ph.D. include transpersonal clinical counseling and Jungian psychoanalysis.

Helen Berman


Helen has a Business Economics degree from UC Santa Barbara and has over 15 years of administrative experience. Helen and her husband live in Gilroy with their beautiful daughter. In her free time, Helen regularly volunteers at her daughter’s school and leads an Arts Alive program.

Cipi Espaldon
Outreach Coordinator


Cipi Espaldon has received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Theater Arts from UC Santa Cruz. She is passionate about empathetic communication, cultural diversity in the arts, and restorative justice and activism. She has served as a Director, President, and Board Chair of the Cultural Arts and Diversity Resource Center in UC Santa Cruz and has worked with organizations dedicated to nonviolence and social justice in the Santa Cruz area. Cipi is also working towards furthering her education to become certified as a Substance Abuse Counselor. She is young, but driven and motivated to put her talents towards making the world a better place for us all with the help of the Connection Practice.

Rick Stober
Daily Coherence Leader


Rick Stober leads the Daily Coherence Call for North America and Europe.

He is a retired Trainer for PeopleSoft/Oracle USA (17 years) has been practicing and training Connection Practice since 2010.

He and his wife, Sandy, teach THE COMPLETELY CONNECTED COUPLE, teaching couples to resolve inner and outer turmoil to have peaceful and loving relationships.

Rick is also a retired Coast Guard Officer (21 years). He met Rita Marie on a training tour to Costa Rica in 2007 with Rev. David MacArthur which inspired him to join and stay involved with Rasur Foundation International.

The Connection Practice envisions a world where generational pain is transformed into generational peace.

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