The Center has developed an international network of colleagues. These colleagues have collaborated with the Center over the years in developing programs, books, conferences and initiatives. The associates listed below are active in building the Center’s programming and helping define relational learning and leadership in practice.

Over 40 years numerous colleagues have been involved in bringing relationships to the forefront of educational and organizational change efforts. Many of these collaborations are documented in the Archive.

Susan Chambers-Otero, M’Ed, MA, LPCC

Susan is a therapist in private practice, a CRL consultant, teacher and facilitator. As a co-founder and co-director of the Center for RelationaLearning (CRL), Susan has extensive experience working with teachers, students, administrators, educational leaders and artists in multi-cultural communities with a focus on transformational education. As an approach to school improvement, Susan and Dr. George Otero, developed and implemented the RelationaLearning™ Model. Prior to founding CRL, Susan was co-director of the multicultural learning center, Las Palomas de Taos, at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico. While there, Susan focused on developing and presenting innovative educational programs that expanded people’s understanding of the world, art, culture, and history of the Southwest.

As a national and international consultant, Susan has presented throughout the U.S., England, Canada, and Australia to educational and community leaders, assisting them to re-think their role as educators. She has established study tours with educators, community partners and youth to promote cultural exchange and leadership development, and encourage their role as change agents. Susan has a special interest in working with indigenous peoples and rural communities with strong histories and identities. She has worked in collaboration with Dr. George Otero to bring all sectors and ages of a community together to work on their own improvement. She earned her Masters of Education degree from Wake Forest University in North Carolina and a Masters in Counseling at Southwestern College in Santa Fe, NM and has a LPCC licensure for psychotherapy. She is co-author of two position papers and the book, RelationaLearning: Education for Mind, Body, and Spirit.

Bob Sparks

Bob’s extensive background as an entrepreneur, business owner, school superintendent, professor, consultant, therapist and coach provide him with a unique perspective for leading relational change within organizations and institutions. He has repeatedly witnessed RelationaLeaders transform many diverse work settings to become places of co-creation and well-being.

His greatest professional and personal experiences have come form watching the freedom, happiness and joy others experience in becoming RelationaLeaders. It is his intention to spend his life in serving others to find their own leadership, self-expression and help them scale RelationaLeadership to establish environments of well-being.

Professor John Halsey, Emeritus Professor

John is Emeritus Professor of Rural Education and Communities, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, Flinders University. He is also a consultant in rural education through the Center for Relationalearning and the Public Education Department, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Prior to joining the School of Education, John was a teacher, a principal of two schools in South Australia- Ceduna Area School and The Heights School (both encompassed reception to year 12, one rural, one metropolitan), Associate Director of the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia, an Executive Director in the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services and a Chief of Staff to a State Minister for Education and Children’s Sevices.

He also has experience working as an educational facilities project officer and for the Australian School’s Commission Choice and Diversity in Education initiative. He is the former Executive Officer of the Rural Education Forum Australia. John has extensive experience in community consultation, policy development, decision-making, human resources management and the preparation of submissions for funding and formal enquiries. John has represented Australia at the South Pacific Education Forum.

See John Halsey’s bio from Flinders University

Miguel Angel Acosta Munoz

Miguel Angel Acosta Munoz was born and raised in Chicago. He moved to New Mexico in 1991 and recently completed a term on the Board of Education of Albuquerque Public Schools. He has 30 years experience advocating for educational and social justice in poor, working-class and Chicano/Latino communities. Miguel Angel received his BA from the University of Illinois, being the first in his family to attend college, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the University of New Mexico in Community Development. Miguel Angel’s work includes teaching in alternative high schools, developing and directing youth leadership programs, developing, teaching in and coordinating adult basic education programs, coordinating community health initiatives and recruitment and retention work in higher education.

Miguel Angel also has extensive experience in personal and family coaching, violence and substance abuse prevention, community development, community visioning, policy analysis, coalition building, conflict resolution, mediation, cultural competency, civic engagement, service learning, community education, program development, and, most recently, as a public servant and elected School Board Member. His family came out of Jalisco, Mexico, and first migrated to Chicago around 1919. His father, Miguel, participated in the Bracero Program as a farm worker in California and later toiled in a Chicago factory until he could work no longer. His mother, Luz Maria, worked as a seamstress in Chicago as had her mother before her. They are now at peace and together back in Jalisco. Miguel Angel has two sons, Jose Miguel, 18, and Miguel Angel, 24. He also has a beautiful granddaughter, Isabella, who just turned four.

David Rothstadt

David Rothstadt lives in Victoria, Australia having spent most of his career working with diverse communities. He has just retired from his position as the Principal of Noble Park Primary School. For some years now the school has worked with George Otero to progress the agenda of building communities to support the learning of students.

His learning from this partnership with George has manifested itself in the collaborative publication with Robert Csoti and George of ‘Creating Powerful Learning Relationships. A whole School Community Approach’. David is interested in how school communities and local and global organisations can partner to benefit one another, so the broader community can enjoy the reciprocity of supporting its youth. He believes it is important for schools to review how they operate, as being ‘just a school is no longer sufficient’. Schools must see themselves as community organisations. David has progressed this agenda through local conferences and his work in New Mexico.

Robert Csoti

Robert is currently Principal of Elwood Primary School in Melbourne Australia. It is a large Primary of 760 students from prep – grade 6. It is set in Bayside Melbourne in a diverse area that is home to much of Melbourne’s arts community. It is a true community school with extremely high parent and community involvement. Robert has worked in a range of small and large schools as a leader and teacher. Elwood is an innovative Primary school that places learning relationships and community involvement at the forefront to help foster better communities and individuals.

He has worked extensively with George, David Rothstadt and Monash University to create true community schools that foster a personalised curriculum for all students. Together with George a David he put together a model that incorporates parent involvement, community partnerships, personalised curriculum and after school enhanced learning to create, “Powerful Learning Relationships.” (Published by Hawker Brownlow). Robert believes that changing the culture of schools requires a new approach to teaching and learning and must challenge mindsets that have traditionally been driven by a compliance paradigm. This must come from school leaders who have the courage to commit to making a real difference to their communities.

Lisa Otero

Lisa is currently the Principal of Many Nations Academy in Portland, Oregon. Many Nations Academy is the only culturally specific, Native American focused high school in Portland, OR. She is also the eldest daughter of George Otero. As an educator for thirty years, Lisa has developed an educational philosophy that is rooted in Relationships First, culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies, and healing centered engagement. She has served as a classroom teacher, Dean of Students, Athletic Director and Principal in California, New Mexico, and Oregon. Lisa has led professional development trainings, workshops and study tours for educators in the United States and Melbourne, Australia. She also co-authored the book RelationaLearning: A Guide to Using Notebooks in the Classroom published by Hawker Brownlow Education.

Lisa is dedicated to the idea that schools should be created and centered in the communities they serve. Educators and schools need to focus and develop the capacity to hold space for all stakeholders and participants to express their cultures, identities, emotions and to be the truest most authentic versions of themselves. The goal is to create institutions that are just, loving, healing, equitable, safe, and center around all lives, not just those born into positions of privilege. Schools in the 21st Century need to examine structures, hierarchies and policies that hinder every stakeholder’s ability to find balance and harmony in their lives and continue the lifelong processes for continued transformation. Schools will need to stop the decades long tendency to reform and reimagine schools and actually eliminate and dismantle schools that are oppressive and system centered and centers that are human centered and celebrate the communities and individuals that they are intended to serve.

Deep learning and authentic knowing can ONLY happen in an environment where humans feel accepted and safe enough to accept not-knowing. These environments thrive, only when based on a foundation of relationships.

– Lisa Otero

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The Center for RelationaLeadership™ and RelationaLearning™ offers a big collection of publications, articles and projects.