15 Nov Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1974 scholar Ron Wiley
Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Angelique Diaz.
Scholar Year: 1974
College(s), Degree(s), and Graduation Year(s): Colorado State University – B.S. Bio-Agricultural Science, 1977; Colorado State University- M.S. Plant Genetics & Breeding, 1979; Azusa Pacific University – M.A. Organizational Leadership, 2008; Nova Southeastern University – Ph.D. (ABD) Conflict Analysis & Resolution, 2017 (anticipated).
Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?
I currently work as Director of Field Personnel with Resource Exchange International, Inc., a small humanitarian development agency based in Colorado Springs. REI, Inc. places professionals alongside their counterparts in emerging nations — hospitals, universities, business settings, development projects — where they invest both in learning from and sharing with their colleagues, equipping them so that they can lead out in developing their nations. In Djibouti, our team has launched the first English-medium K-12 international school. In Vietnam, our staff are helping implement the “2020” program of introducing English as a foreign language into every classroom in the country. In Laos, our team launched the first surgical residency program. In Indonesia, poverty alleviation takes the form of a mango processing and drying project in collaboration with a grower cooperative, adding value, jobs, and environmental and social sustainability.
I’ve been with REI, Inc. for 22 years, including 16 years in Kazakhstan, and the last six in my current role. The favorite aspect of my current occupation is traveling to meet with our field staff in six countries, and encouraging them in the excellent work that they do.
What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?
Being a Boettcher Scholar kept me in Colorado for my B.S. and M.S., and I met my wife while at CSU. My college years were transformational for me, and my entire career has been spent serving in the nonprofit sector as a result. My early engagement in opportunities for crossing cultures led to our long tenure living in and contributing to the development of Kazakhstan as an emerging nation. We’re back in Colorado involved in elder care, and it has given us the opportunity to give back to our home community in Southern Colorado, while continuing our traveling contribution internationally.
Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.
Besides involvement in a local church congregation, I moonlight as a restorative practices facilitator/trainer/consultant for Pueblo area schools, the justice system, and occasionally our local university. This has grown out of my doctoral studies into indigenous restorative conflict resolution practices. Besides my vocation, my avocation, and my studies, I enjoy hiking in the mountains in whatever part of the world I happen to be at the moment.
What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field?
The best advice that I’ve received are the words of Jesus: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” I consider my work and the work of our non-profit to be peacemaking work. As advice for anyone considering entering the field of peacemaking, I would offer this short poem, written by Edwin Markham, called “Outwitted”:
“He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.”
If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?
I would choose to have dinner with Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Badsha Khan, and Martin Luther King, Jr. I would want to join them in dialogue on the spirituality of nonviolent social change, religion, and peacemaking, since each of them serve as inspiration for me in my life and work.