Aaron Stern

Founder and President

Aaron Stern, president and founder of the Academy for the Love of Learning, is a musician, teacher, and internationally recognized consultant on learning.

As the Academy’s creative and educational leader, Stern designs and directs the Academy’s core curriculum and faculty, guides program development, and offers select trainings in depth facilitation and diverse aspects of the Academy’s pedagogy.

During the early 1980s, Stern ...

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Acushla Bastible

Director and Co-Founder, Lifesongs

Acushla Bastible is the director and co-founder of Lifesongs, a cornerstone program of the Academy’s arts and community engagement work. As an Academy faculty member, she also creates and facilitates programs and workshops on aging, death and dying, creativity, and collective storymaking.

Acushla is a multidisciplinary performance artist – actor, stage director, educator, writer, facilitator, and animateur. Her work in the ...

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Brittany Goede

Chief of Staff

Brittany is the most recent addition to the Academy’s staff. She is supporting Mr. Stern in holding the many aspects of the Academy’s work, internally and externally. Her professional career has been in different roles and contexts, but the throughline has been operational responsibilities and problem-solving. She is eager to discover how those skills can transfer to ...

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Chrissie Orr

Faculty Fellow in Creative Practice

Chrissie Orr is the co-founder of El Otro Lado in the Schools, and the co-founder of the Living Story Collaborative. Both programs engage story and its transformative powers to cultivate connection and belonging, strengthen community capacity, and renew our guiding narratives in this time of radical transitions. As a member of the faculty, she facilitates various programs and workshops that ...

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Dan Brannen

General Counsel and Director of Finance

Dan is a lawyer with a private practice in Santa Fe. For the Academy, he handles matters of finance and law throughout all program, development, and administration departments. His work for other clients includes fostering the right of local self-government and the rights of nature.

Dan studied accounting at Penn State University (B.A. 1990) and law at George Washington University ...

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David Gordon

Director of Academy Center Development

David Gordon is a fine artist, who explores, among other themes, how the built environment plays a key role in productivity, learning and wellbeing.

As the director of Academy Center Development, David oversees the facilities and grounds, attending to the constant dialogue between people and the buildings we inhabit. He collaborated with Aaron Stern on the original design of the Academy ...

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David L. Witt

Curator, Seton Legacy Project

David L. Witt is Curator of the Seton Legacy Project overseeing collections and educational programming about artist-naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton. Formerly, Curator, Harwood Museum of Art (UNM Taos) focusing on Modernist history, exhibitions, and the sculptor Patrociño Barela. Author of four award-winning history books, he has worked as a poisonous snake caretaker, systems theorist, and talent/consultant for Public Television programs.

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Hanna Negusie

Communications Lead

Hanna Negusie is a multifaceted social marketer with experience in public health promotion, social justice media campaign building, and youth advocacy. She aims to highlight narratives of transformational learning, mind-body health, and community and youth empowerment through marketing and communications. Hanna sees media as a tool for initiating social and community transformation while also highlighting unheard narratives and voices.

Hanna works ...

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Marianne Murray


For more than a decade, Marianne Murray has been a member of the core faculty and Academy Board. She has been intimately involved with the development of the core curriculum, helping to establish the Academy’s pedagogy. She has a Ph.D in Transformative Learning and Change in Human Systems from the California Institute of Integral Studies, an MA in Transpersonal Psychology, ...

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Monika Guerra

Events & Campus Relations Coordinator 

Monika Guerra (she/they) is a Mexican-American contemporary artist born in Southern California and raised in Southern New Mexico. Guerra’s studio practice explores and creates different planes of existence through painting, photography and print – where she constantly questions her position in this reality and her state of the human experience. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate in ...

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Randle Charles


Randle Charles, Oneida from Six Nations and Oneida of the Thames, is an artist and a facilitator. Randle facilitates workshops and public programs at the Academy.

Randle’s work in and with many Indigenous communities throughout North America inspires his persistent quest towards decolonization and cultural vitality. He holds the belief that colonization transmuted into opportunity challenges us to explore what highest ...

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Reta Lawler

Adjunct Faculty

Roshi Sanchi Reta Lawler is a core member of the Academy faculty and was an integral part of the Academy’s early development. She has deeply informed the Academy’s approach to transformative facilitation and pedagogy and continues to facilitate the Coming Full Circle Training, a program she created.

Reta is the Founder and Director of the Morningstar Zen Center. Fully ...

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Thomas Jaggers

Academy Steward; Faculty

Thomas Jaggers is a teacher, facilitator, and community leader and activist. He has been a key staff member at the Academy since 2004, and has been involved in every aspect of the Academy’s programs and management. He is now a member of the Academy’s Stewardship Team, sits on the Academy faculty, and is an organizational consultant for the Academy’s Ventana ...

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Tina Olson

Finance and Administration

Tina Olson oversees the Academy’s finances and plays a key role in supporting administrative decisions.

She holds degrees in art, music, and industrial design. Her background and experience are in graphic art, book and product design, production, project management, bookkeeping and finance.

Tina is the mother of two young men, an avid telemark skier and a certified yoga teacher.

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Vanessa Torres McGovern


Vanessa Torres McGovern, MA, LMHC, is a singer-songwriter, musician, therapist, Academy faculty member and Lifesongs facilitating artist. She is honored to co-create original music with individuals in hospice, veterans and individuals seeking to re-imagine and narrate the story of their lives through poetry, song and music. As a singer-songwriter with three albums of original music and a graduate of Southwestern ...

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