The Great Connections is excited to announce the enhancement of its higher education work by the addition of James Kandrac and Sable Levy to its Board of Trustees, and Malachy Walsh and Mimi Gladstein to its Advisory Board as part of its plan to expand to a new, 9-month Gap Year program.
Board of Trustees
Jim Kandrac, founder and CEO of UCG Technologies, has helped the Great Connections Seminar ever since he attended a weekend program in 2010.
He found us while looking for a Montessori college for his daughters. (The Great Connections program is based on the Montessori philosophy of education as applied to the young adult level of development.) Two years ago he talked to our students about his life and career, and spoke about the issues on this video, detailing the problems he sees in education and how The Great Connections solves them.
Jim has been actively involved in student programs in his hometown area of Cleveland-Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Ohio for many years and plans to tap into his connections to benefit our program. He brings great energy, ideas, and to our organization as it is on the cusp of creating new, expanded programming.
Jim says: “I am pleased to join the RIFI board because I want to contribute by making a positive impact on the lives of young men and women.
“Being an entrepreneur and business owner for 30 years, I have seen a significant decline in the preparedness and quality of students coming out of universities. College seems to have become an extension of high school. Most students learn once they get out into the ‘real world’ because they have not been challenged to think creatively for themselves and solve problems. They are force fed what to think and believe.
“I have attended the RIFI adult program and enjoyed participating and presenting at the RIFI summer program for young adults in Chicago. I have witnessed first hand how, in just one week, the curriculum has enlightened students to be much better prepared for life. I am very excited to start working with Marsha and the board in developing and bringing to fruition the RIFI nine-month Gap program for high school and college students.”
Sable Levy, member of The Levy Family Foundation and Socratic Programmer for the Texas Millennial Institute, adds her deep love of our program to her incisive insights about the Millennial mind—both of which benefit our efforts. Sable first attended The Great Connections as a student in 2012, where she found it a life-transforming experience. Today she is completing her degree in Actuarial Science at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.
“The Great Connections Seminar has profoundly enriched my life over the past five years. It’s an honor to now be a part of the RIFI board and to help share the tools of intellectual independence with ever-greater numbers of students.”
Murray I. Franck, J.D. (1943-2017)
As we welcome these dynamic new trustees, we mourn the passing of our Founding Trustee, Murray I. Franck, J.D. this year. Murray served as a wise intellectual and legal counsel to RIFI since its creation in 2005. An expert on intellectual property and a writer on the philosophy of law and ethics, he had been the head of Patents and Trademarks of Revlon Corporation, and had taught law at Baruch College, New York, New York before his retirement. We miss him terribly!
Board of Advisors
Mimi Gladstein, Ph.D., is a professor of English and Theater Arts at the University of Texas, El Paso. Among her many accomplishments, she is the author of five books, four on Ayn Rand, and co-editor of two. One of her co-edited books, The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes: Selected Works of José Antonio Burciaga, which won an American Book Award, a Southwest Book Award, and a Latino Book Award. She has received international recognition, including the John J. and Angeline Pruis Award, for teaching Steinbeck and the Burkhardt Award for Steinbeck scholarship. Gladstein’s scholarly articles cover subjects as diverse as feminism in the Harry Potter series and bilingual wordplay in Hemingway and Steinbeck. She has also been recognized as a distinguished teacher for her service to students.
“I joined the RIFI board because I believe in its mission of educating our young people to use reason. It is more important than ever in contrast to the claptrap of emotion and the perversion of self-esteem promoted in the public schools. The future of our country depends on it.”
Malachy Walsh, retired Madman, brings us his decades of experience as Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson which included such campaigns as “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” and Tony the Tiger’s “That’s grrreat!” He combines this expertise with his deep love of the Great Books classics and brings it all to bear on The Great Connections. In addition to teaching our students how to write like professionals, Malachy led a branding session for us in May where we discovered some keys to the marketing of The Great Connections. We’re now putting those discoveries into place.
“I welcomed a lifetime in advertising because it embodies the American promise that life can be better.
“I welcomed a lifelong commitment to Great Books education because I believe that a better life comes from the better thinking of Reason, from the unique gifts and creativity of Individuals, and from the Freedom to forward those ideals.
“I now welcome the opportunity to serve with Great Connections, so I can work with likeminded people who want to leave the world a bit better than we found it.
“As an ad guy from the wonders-never-cease world of Cheez Whiz and ‘Isn’t it amazing!’, I also hope I can contribute a sense of fun and self discovery to our projects.
“Thank you for making me feel welcome.” Please keep a look-out for our upcoming news about the Gap Year Program. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us via this website.