The Team

 
 
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LAURIE LAZAR

c0-founder/EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/course leader

Laurie obtained certification as an authentic relating adult transformation facilitator at the Boulder Integral Center in 2014 and was on staff to support others through authentic relating programs. In 2017, Laurie co-facilitated a Victim Impact program for inmates at the Boulder County Jail, and then went on to become a mentor to recently released inmates to support their transition into the community. A spark of passion was lit when she witnessed inmates responding to ART (Authentic Relating Training™) for the first time inside of a correctional system. Since then, she’s dedicated her time to expanding access to these powerful relational tools throughout the Colorado Department of Corrections for staff and inmates. As Executive Director of Authentic Relating International, she champions this work for a variety of communities that can benefit from deeper connections.

Laurie holds a BS in Business, Computer Information Systems, from Colorado State University and a Masters in Education, with an emphasis in Curriculum Development from the University of Colorado. Professionally, she spent twenty years providing high-level corporate recruiting for multinational corporations, using her authentic relating skills to connect hundreds of people with their dream careers.

 
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RYEL KESTANO

CO-FOUNDER/Board Member

Ryel is the lead designer of ART’s curriculum, develops the company’s long-range growth strategy, and is a senior course leader. Prior to co-founding ART International, Ryel oversaw all training operations at the Integral Center in Boulder, a world-renowned leader in transformational workshops. He has been a course leader, course supervisor, facilitator and coach since his own transformation several years ago.

Ryel is also the co-founder and visionary behind Virtuance, one of the largest providers of real estate photography in the world, and the co-founder and visionary behind Pink Mammoth, one of the Bay Area’s largest and most successful creative arts collectives.

Ryel has four very authentic kids and lives in Boulder.

 
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Jennifer ludders

course leader

Jennifer is passionate about spreading the tools and practices of Authentic Relating (AR) to as many diverse populations as possible. She first flirted with Authentic Relating in 2007, but it wasn’t until rediscovering it in Bali during a difficult period - and finding extraordinary nourishment and enlivenment - that she fell head over heels with the practice. Jennifer moved to Boulder in 2016 to fully immerse in AR at the Integral Center and shortly afterwards completed a six month facilitator training at the Circling Institute. Already leading conscious communication groups and teaching meditation at the Denver women’s prison, Jennifer was primed to join one of ARI’s early prison programs in 2018 at Buena Vista. The experience touched her deeply, and since then she has enthusiastically co-led more than a dozen courses in Colorado prisons.

Prior to joining ARI’s team, Jennifer was a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department, serving in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (in which her duties included overseeing the welfare of incarcerated American citizens). She also worked for several years as a risk analyst on Wall Street; and traveled the world teaching psychological first aid tools to people affected by trauma in the wake of natural disasters and political conflict. Jennifer loves to sing and hunt thrift stores for treasures.

 
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David Wood

Course leader

A former Consulting Actuary to Fortune 100 companies - including Sony Music, Chanel, and Exxon - David left his cushy Park Avenue job 20 years ago to build  the world’s largest coaching business. He became #1 on Google for “life coaching”, serving an audience of 150,000 coaches, and coaching thousands of hours in 12 countries around the globe.

Alongside his clients’ successes, David is no stranger to overcoming challenges himself, having survived a full collapse of his paraglider and a fractured spine, witnessing the death of his sister at age seven, anxiety and depression, and a national Gong Show!

He is the author of "Get Paid For Who You Are," with foreword by Jack Canfield. He was nominated to the Transformational Leadership Council  alongside such thought leaders as Don Miguel Ruiz, John Gray, and Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson.

David believes that the tough conversations we avoid, are our doorways to confidence, success, and love. They become the defining moments which shape our careers, our relationships, and our lives. He coaches high performing entrepreneurs, executives and teams - and now prison inmates -  to create amazing results and deep connection. One tough conversation at a time.

 
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JAHMAYA KESSLER

Course Leader/Board Member

Jahmaya leads our jails and prisons courses and leverages his experience and expertise in guiding the program to reach facilities around the country. In 2013 he earned an MA in Counseling Psychology, and began working as a program coordinator for the Boulder County’s Jail Education and Transition (JET) Program. During this time he helped over a thousand inmate clients address criminogenic factors holding them back, transform themselves, and offer support in their transitions into the community. He has facilitated hundreds of groups on topics such as: Mindfulness, Trauma, Attachment, Healthy Relationships, Emotional Intelligence, Neuroplasticity, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and Cognitive Behavioral Interventions, and Authentic Relating. His most recent contribution to this work is as a speaker at TEDxCU April 21st, 2018 on the topic of “Humanity in Hard Places: The Value of Compassionate Incarceration.” In the last year, Jahmaya has become incredibly passionate about the Authentic Relating work and helped to plant it into the jail.  The overwhelming success of it led him to want to dedicate himself to making sure that this work can spread to other facilities and is made accessible to as many people as possible.

 
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Svetlana Lilova

Toronto Assistant Course Leader

Svetlana discovered Authentic Relating in late 2016 and became awed by its power to cultivate authenticity and genuine connection. For over two years she juggled her professional life with authentic relating events and courses. Currently, she is certified in Level 1 Circling Facilitation at Authentic Relating Toronto, where she facilitates at public events and hosts various events for the Authentic Relating Toronto graduates and the general public. Svetlana has also completed other Authentic Relating training programs, including ART International's Level 1 (Boulder) and Authentic Relating Toronto’s Core Practice and Master Circle.

Svetlana holds a Master’s in Counselling Psychology from the University of Toronto and is a Registered Psychotherapist practicing in Toronto, Canada. She works with adults, youth, families, and couples; has worked in the community, at postsecondary settings, and with offenders in prisons such as Grand Valley Institution for Women and Warkworth; and has lead numerous process-focused groups. Having also a passion for literature, she is the author of a book of poetry, Metaphysical Dictionary (Toronto, 2016).

Svetlana has been deeply moved by the profound impact she has experienced in authentic relating, and believes in its tremendous value to others, and ultimately to communities.

 
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Michelle Szabo

AR Researcher/Toronto Assistant Course Leader

Michelle is a professor of sociology at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, where she teaches and conducts research on topics such as gender and race relations. After joining Authentic Relating Toronto in 2014 and seeing how much Authentic Relating (AR) improved her own self awareness, compassion and conflict resolution skills, she became passionate about bringing AR to others, including her post secondary students. She is delighted to be collaborating with ARI to bring Authentic Relating to incarcerated men and women in Ontario. Michelle’s most recent academic research looks at how Authentic Relating programs like ARI’s prison program support participants in terms of conflict resolution and emotional intelligence. 

Michelle received her PhD in environmental sociology from York University and was a postdoctoral fellow in sociology at the University of Toronto. She has completed numerous Authentic Relating training programs, including Authentic Relating Training’s Level 1 [Boulder] and Authentic Relating Toronto’s Circling Facilitator Training and Master Circle.

 
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Shaina List

Toronto Assistant Course Leader

Shaina first discovered Authentic Relating in 2016, and quickly moved from dedicated participant at drop-in events to leader and organizer within the community. She has graduated from several AR courses including Master Circle, Circling Facilitation Training, and The ART of Being Human (Level 1) in Boulder, and is currently a certified Authentic Relating Games and T-Group Facilitator at Authentic Relating Toronto (ART), where she hosts bi-weekly and monthly events for the general public. 

As a passionate advocate for fostering deeper, more nourishing connections, Shaina has also facilitated relating games for at-risk youth via NPower Canada, delivered workshops on emotional intelligence and conflict resolution to elementary students in the York Region District School Board, and served as a distress-and-crisis line responder via Toronto Distress Centres. Shaina holds a certificate in Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, a BA in Psychology from York University, and is currently completing a 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Modo Yoga International.