Rasur Foundation International Board Members

Rita Marie Johnson

Founder and president

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.  

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.

William Pitney

Financial Planner

William Pitney is passionate about helping others achieve their financial and life goals. William has been improving the financial lives of women, families and technical professionals since 2003, when he began providing integrated financial planning advice and services. As the founder of FocusYOU, William provides practical financial knowledge, delivers fact-based solutions to support your goals, and facilitates conversations that might not otherwise take place between spouses and family. 

Leigh Files

Board Member

Leigh Files 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.


Lauren Arnold

Board Member

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.

Melanie Dean

Board Member
Psychologist, Author

Melanie Dean, PhD, is the author of The Hidden Power of Emotions: How to Activate Your Energy Field and Transform Your Life. She is a psychologist, researcher and educator dedicated to empowering people by teaching them how to notice and shift their emotions – and intentionally direct their energy – to connect with what they most want to receive.

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.

Quinntin Ruiz


Quinn Ruiz is an Executive Coach for the Mochary Method. He has served as Chief Operating Officer for the Rasur Foundation. Currently, he is a volunteer consultant to our business affiliate, ConnectMe. 

Business Affiliate

Michelle King

CEO, ConnectMe

Michelle King worked for SAP as Global Head of Enablement, Learning and Development. She is a Connection Practice Trainer, educational technology expert, professional coach, author, and speaker. She is currently developing ConnectMe as a business that will help support the nonprofit side of the Connection Practice. 

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.

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

Director of International
Teacher Training

MA in Counseling, Ed. D. in Holistic Education
Master Connection Practice Trainer,
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.

Sheila Ford

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.


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. 

Maia Gallo

Director of community outreach

BA in Communications
MA in Education
Certified Connection Practice Trainer & Coach


Maia has spent her adult life working with children and families in various capacities. The bulk of her work has centered on Early Childhood Development as a Teacher and Director of play-based preschools, though she has also worked with children aged 5-19 as a staff member in Democratic Free schools. Her training in the Connection Practice, Non-violent Communication, Heartmath and Yoga guide her towards heart-centered education where each child's strengths are celebrated and needs are addressed.  As Director of Community Outreach, Maia's goal is to create a replicable model for sharing the Connection Practice locally, as a way to bring more understanding, joy and peace into our communities. 

Maia 2

Cipi Espaldon

Program Manager


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 a current Graduate Student in Alliant International University studying for her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. 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.

Cipi pic 2021

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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