Genesis of FCLC
Chris Fontana, Co-Founder shares the genesis of Full Circle Leadership Center
When I was three, my mom, my siblings and I met Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, the eminent psychiatrist, founder of the Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago (now Adler University). He counseled my mom and our family in front of 500 other parents. As a result of Dreikurs’ common sense approach to parenting, my mom began the heroic journey of breaking the cycle of abuse from her family of origin. My five siblings and I learned to co-run every aspect of the household and family. See her full story in her autobiography, It’s Not in the Genes.
I hold an A.B. degree from Washington University, St. Louis in Spanish Literature and Education with a minor in Art. I have an M.A. in Whole Systems Design (emphasis in Curriculum Design for Ecological Education) from Antioch University, Seattle. I designed what would become Global Visionaries. In 2007, I was honored as the Antioch Alum of the year. I received 3.5 years of executive coaching from Valeo Consulting.
For 17 years, I taught all ages elementary, middle and high school–Spanish, Reading, and Global Leadership in public schools in Evanston and Skokie, Illinois and Washington State one of the most affluent and one of the poorest in the state. I loved the opportunity to co-create democratic learning communities with students. I created the Global Leadership class now taught in four of Seattle Public Schools. I have been an adjunct professor at SCCC (Seattle Central Community College) since 2005 for courses on leadership and Spanish language.
Environmental Educator & Leader & Activist
My brother and I led the youth organizers of YES, the youth-organized global Youth Environmental Summits of 1993 and ‘95. The 1995 Summit, sponsored by the United Nations Environmental Program, brought 300 high school students from 32 countries and 40 States together for one week of education in environmental and peace issues, social action and leadership skills, and direct environmental service. We were awarded the 1995 Colorado Partners in Education Award; the impact on the 800 young and old people involved had lasting impacts on their lives and careers.
I co-founded and was Executive Director of Global Visionaries (GV) (www.global-visionaries.org) from 1998 – 2017. Under my leadership, GV directly served 5,000 youth, 2,000 of whom participated in transformational cultural immersions in Guatemala. Of those 2,000, 500 youth continued through the multi-year advanced leadership program I designed. The Thomas C. Wales. Foundation recognized me as an honoree of The Passionate Citizen Award in 2008. Seattle University’s Albers School of Business honored me in 2011 with the Redwinged Leadership Award for social justice leadership and business acumen to a non-profit leader.
I began teaching educators in 1994 in a variety of professional development workshops and formats. Thus far, I have had the opportunity to work with over 550 educators over the past 25 years including four weeklong summer institutes.
I am an anti-racist and stand in solidarity with targeted communities. I have taught anti-oppression, race and equity workshops to both young people and adults since 2006.
Global Education & Cross-Cultural Background
I have an extensive cross-cultural experience having resided in Spain for one year, accumulated 1+ years in Guatemala, Chile three summers and Mexico for summer as well as traveled extensively throughout Central America, Europe and Egypt, and Asia. I am fluent in Spanish.
My current inquiry has led me back to the beginning
We must start in the home and then our schools. Parenting is the most important job on the planet and the one for which we are least trained. The old methods no longer work. All parents need “parent professional development.” Every parent can become a leader so that they can democratically share responsibilities with their children.
Teachers never learn in school how to become leaders nor how to understand behavior. And we are failing our children by not enabling them to co-lead our classrooms and schools. Our cultural tradition of hierarchy, of power and autocracy begins in the homes and schools and manifests in our organizations and society. Low voter turn-out is but one of its legacies. FCLC builds leaders at every age. As a result, children and students learn to shift their locus of control from and external to an internal one.