Now along the Elizabeth: A Narrative

Boston-born; Virginia-raised. For more than a decade, I've lived along the Elizabeth River in southeastern Virginia. This narrative resume provides an overview of my professional and public life. Certainly, this is only a taste.

Current Professional Role as an Organizational Performance Consultant

I'm an organizational performance consultant with the Coast Guard Atlantic Area in Portsmouth, Virginia; I have been detailed to the deputy commander's staff at the Maintenance and Logistics Command Atlantic. My primary focus is on the implementation of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, the Coast Guard's leadership and management framework, in the maintenance, logistics, and support communities. I work with senior leaders at all levels to assist them in implementing processes and systems which support the Criteria. In short, I work to improve overall mission performance through improved management practices.

I work with leaders and managers at all levels of the organization. While I attempt to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to “big payoff” projects, I also enjoy working at the branch/section/team level. My areas of interest and expertise include customer focus, conflict management and resolution, facilitation and meeting management, and personal and organizational leadership. I am also beginning to work in the field of organizational network analysis, examining how leaders and managers use formal and informal networks to seek counsel and make decisions, and how networks impact organizational excellence.

Experience in Independent Education

Teaching Responsibilities

As a member of the English faculty at Wyoming Seminary -- a college preparatory day/boarding school in Kingston, Pennsylvania, just northwest of the Poconos -- I taught a variety of courses within the English departmental offerings. Each year, I taught two sections of freshman English along with two other courses.

The freshman program offered a unique experience for an independent school teacher, at least at Wyoming Seminary. The freshmen course was team-taught with three teachers working with six sections over two bells a day. The content was standard first-year high school English and included use of proper grammar, increasing vocabulary, writing critical essays, and reading literature including A Light in the Forest, Native Son, Lord of the Flies, and The Merchant of Venice. The program allowed for a high level of collaboration among the three teachers, and provided us with flexibility to change-up as needed to meet student and class needs.

For two years, I also taught sophomore English, a more traditionally structured year-long English course. While the freshman program encouraged for collaboration and interaction with other teachers, the sophomore program more of a solo venture. While the content and books was set by the department, there was total freedom, within the limited structure provided, to teach the course as I wanted. The course content built on the freshman program and included more sophistication in analytical and expository writing. The literature in the course was genre-based, covering short and long fiction, drama, and poetry. Among the ten or so texts we used, we taught A Tale of Two Cities and Romeo and Juliet.

Beyond these two lower-level courses, I also taught upper level courses. Wyoming Seminary's English program at the upper level is structured around ten-week English electives. Perhaps electives is not quite the correct term; students took one English term each term; aside from the first term in their junior year, the courses were all developed by individual teachers. The offerings for any given year were decided the previous year in a straw poll conducted by the department. For students not taking the AP-level American Studies program, all juniors completed Style and Structure in the fall term. The primary texts for Style and Structure were Macbeth and Turn of the Screw; one of the primary objectives of the course was to engage the students in literary analysis from a variety of perspectives.

Interscholastic coaching

For my coaching responsibilities, I coached lacrosse, serving as the head varsity coach for three years; before becoming the head coach, I was the assistant varsity coach & defensive coordinator and the head junior varsity coach. My focus was on sportsmanship and fundamentals. I'd like to say we won every game; we didn't, however. Three seasons as head coach and we accumulated a near 60% winning record. Not the greatest record, but we all had fun and learned a great deal about life and lacrosse. While in graduate school, for three years I coached youth lacrosse with the Springfield Youth Club in northern Virginia .

Theatre and other co-curricular work

In addition, my co-curricular responsibilities included working in the theatre program. I served as the technical director of the Buckingham Performing Arts Center and directed full-length, student and student/faculty, stage plays. During my tenure, I directed both Jean Anouilh's Antigone and his Medea, Alfred Uhry's The Robber Bridegroom, and Jim Leonard's The Diviners. I also served as the technical director for school productions of The Music Man, Love's Labor's Lost, Midsummer Night's Dream, and half-a-dozen others.

In addition, I served as the faculty advisor to several groups including a chapter of the Irving Society, a creative writing club, and Amnesty International.

Residential life

I lived in a dormitory, serving as the faculty leader for the upper class boys' dormitory. I provided oversight for 60 junior, senior, and post-graduate boys.

Accreditation activities

I also served as a the English department's team leader for the school's accreditation self-examination process. As the team leader, I was responsible for facilitating departmental meetings for the self-examination and drafting portions of the self-examination document. In addition, I served as a member of the Middle States visiting team to Oldfield's School in Maryland during their accreditation visit.

Additional past experiences

Independent consultant

As an independent technical writer, consultant, and trainer, I have worked for diverse organizations including the U.S. Army, United Way of Warren County, and Automotive Industries of Strasburg, Virginia. I have developed criterion-based training materials on topics as diverse as military convoy operations and pastoral care; I have analyzed industrial manufacturing processes and developed systems for improved performance and increased cost savings and avoidance. I've analyzed inventions, written procedural manuals for real property management and business development; I've facilitated contentious town meetings, finding consensus where others foresaw feuds.

Training specialist

As a training specialist for Evaluation Technologies, Inc., I served on several contracts for federal agencies. I developed criterion-referenced training materials for the U.S. Army's transportation and chaplain schools. In addition, I developed a nation-wide training program for state and local authorities involved in Super Fund sites.

Counselor and academic advisor

For one academic year, I served as an academic advisor for undeclared undergraduates at George Mason University. In addition to providing one-on-one advising sessions, I conducted group advising sessions and participated in new student orientations. In addition, I served as counseling intern on the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College and as a career counseling intern at George Washington University.

Summerstock stage carpenter

I've had several seasons of experience as a stage carpenter for summer programs. For several seasons, I was a stage carpenter at The Peninsula Players, the oldest professional resident summer theatre in America. "Nestled in a fragrant cedar forest overlooking the waters of Green Bay" not far from Fish Creek, Wisconsin, the company produces five full productions each summer; I built stage elements including scenery and furniture. During several other summers, I was a stage carpenter at Interlochen Arts Camp in the theatre design and technology program. Interlochen, located on a 1200 acre campus south of Traverse City, Michigan, is a full-fledged pre-professional training camp for middle and high school students. As a stage carpenter, I not only built stage sets, but I taught students stage carpentry.

Experience in crisis intervention and traumatic stress

In my volunteer life, I serve as the clinical director of the Tidewater Critical Incident Stress Management Team; the team provides crisis intervention services to emergency services personnel in southeastern Virginia. The team is composed of 70 mental health providers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, rescue personnel, and military members who provide a broad, complete program of crisis intervention interventions. As the senior leader of the team, I am responsible for setting organizational direction and aligning all activities to meet established goals.

I have conducted more than a hundred crisis interventions with groups and individuals. I have assisted emergency services personnel following the suicide of one of their colleagues; I have provided crisis intervention to police officers following line of duty deaths. I have led crisis response teams to disaster sites including the TWA crash off Moriches, New York, and the flooding following Hurricane Floyd. I have served as a crisis consultant to several Hampton Roads schools following 9/11, providing training to faculty, administrators, and parents of elementary and middle school students.

I enjoy crisis intervention and find great value in helping people work through traumatic events. I am a member of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and a certified instructor for the foundation; I teach the Individual Crisis Intervention and Peer Support course. I am a past member of the coordinating committee for critical incident services in the Commonwealth of Virgina, and I provide occaisional training within the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Military experience as a Coast Guard reservist

I am also an active member of the Coast Guard Reserve, having enlisted as a high school senior while attending Saint James School. During my Coast Guard career, I have assisted in saving more than a hundred people serving as a small boat coxswain and crewmember and as a mission controller.

As a Commissioned Officer

I am currently a Lieutenant Commander and serve as the operations officer at Port Security Unit 305. As the operations officer, I am responsible for the planning and safe execution of all unit operations. As one of the Coast Guard's deployable assets, port security units provide waterborne security in harbors and coastal waters. The port security unit is self sustaining for up to 30-days in a deployed status, bringing with it all necessary supplies and resources.

I have also served as the Senior Reserve Officer at Coast Guard Group Hampton Roads, the boat operations, multi-mission, prevention & response arm of the Coast Guard in the southern Chesapeake Bay and Port of Hampton Roads and one of two predecessor commands to Sector Hampton Roads which was formed in July 2005. As the senior reservist assigned to the Group, I was responsible for assisting Coast Guard units in their use and support reserve personnel; I was also the alternate deputy group commander, responsible for serving as the deputy commander in his absence. With the creation of Sector Hampton Roads, a new command responsible for all Coast Guard response and prevention operations in southern Virginia, the southern Chesapeake Bay, and the Port of Hampton Roads, I became a senior incident response officer. Following Hurricane Katrina, I was recalled to active duty; for a month I served as a watchstander at the Atlantic Area's incident command center providing critical command and control for the Coast Guard's response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

My previous Reserve assignment was as a controller at the combined Atlantic Area Command Center, Fifth District Command Center, and Rescue Coordination Center Norfolk. As a controller, I coordinated search and rescue in the western Atlantic Ocean, provided multi-mission oversight to all groups, activities, and marine safety offices in the Fifth District, and served as the command duty officer for the Commander, Atlantic Area.

In addition, during this six-year tour, I conducted two international liaison visits. As a maritime search & rescue specialist, I traveled to Suriname to advise the Surinamese Navy on the creation of a joint maritime operations center and rescue coordination center. In addition, I traveled to England and the low country of Europe for a liaison visit to four maritime rescue coordination centers: Falmouth, England; Gris Nez, France; Oostende, Belgium; Den Helder, The Netherlands. The results of this trip provided initial comparative data for a U.S. Coast Guard initiative to improve our rescue coordination centers through increased staffing, comprehensive training, and better center equipment and layout. Both of these trips allowed me to interact with maritime professionals of these foreign countries, to learn a little about their countries and cultures, and to help build upon the positive relationships between the United States and their countries, the Coast Guard and their respective services and agencies.

As a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer

Prior to being commissioned, I was a Port Security Specialist in the Coast Guard Reserve, reaching the rate of Port Securityman Chief in after ten years of service. My enlisted assignments as a Chief Petty Officer included two active duty summerstock sessions as the executive petty officer of Station Plum Island (WI), nearly 18 months of active duty on the Fifth District staff (Portsmouth, VA) as the project officer overseeing the integration of reserve forces within the district, and Selected Reserve assignments as the security platoon chief at Port Security Unit 305 (as a plank owner), reserve supervisor at Aids to Navigation Team Kennebec (Portsmouth, VA), and augmentation chief at Group/Marine Safety Office Philadelphia (PA).

As a Non-Commissioned Officer

Before being advanced to Chief Petty Officer, my assignments included serving as the editor of The Reservist, marine safety boarding officer at Group/Marine Safety Office Philadelphia, coxswain at Station Manistee (MI) and Station Plum Island (WI), and pollution investigator at Captain of the Port New London (CT).

Military Decorations

My military awards include the Coast Guard Commendation Medal with Operational Distinguishing Device, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal with Gold Star and Operational Distinguishing Device, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon.

Creative Writing

I have written poetry, plays, and literary non-fiction for as long as I can remember. My poetry as been published most recently in Skipping Stones and The Powhatan Review. Other poems have appeared in other literary journals including The Trinity Review, Silences, and Yes.

A one-act play of mine, "Mating Rites," was produced at the University of East Anglia; my Top Gun-meets-the-Coast Guard screenplay, Storm Warriors, remains unsold, now having been overtaken by The Guardian.

I edit an online poetry magazine, Poetry 360, which periodically publishes new poems, providing a place for beginning and experienced poets to publish good, solid, lyric and narrative poetry. I also blog, posting to my Tidewater Musings and Notes Along the Elizabeth whenever I can carve out the time.


Doctoral studies

I am currently completing a doctorate in organizational leadership, with an emphasis on conflict and dispute resolution, from Nova Southeastern University; my coursework is completed, and I am working on my dissertation which examines leadership interventions and their impact on conflict within organizations.

Graduate studies

I have earned two master's degrees; one is in national security & strategic studies from the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and the other is in counseling & development from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. While at George Mason, I was a periodic contributer to The Broadside, the weekly student-produced newspaper.

I have completed other graduate coursework: I earned a graduate certificate in disaster & emergency management from Touro University International, Cypress, California, and studied psychodrama at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia.

Undergraduate studies

I received a bachelor's degree, with a major in English (literary writing), from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.

At Trinity, I was a student in the Guided Studies Program, with my first two years of study focused on the study of the evolution of Western civilization. While my major is English, I have strong concentrations also in history and philosophy. During my time at Trinity, I served as a paraprofessional in residential life and student activities, and I was on the editorial boards of both the school newspaper and the literary magazine.

I also completed undergraduate work in philosophy and English literature at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, and in management at Sonoma State University in northern California.

Professional military education

I am a graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff and the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy. I have completed various Coast Guard courses including Instructor Development Course, Officer in Charge Course, and Smallboat Coxswain Course.

Secondary education

I earned my high school diploma from Saint James School outside Hagerstown, MD. I was a four-year boarder at Saint James and lettered in cross-country and lacrosse. I was a member of the chapel vestry, the Sacristan's Guild, the Irving Society, and the Historical Society; I served as a prefect my senior year. I was the editor of the Bai Yuka yearbook and on the staff of The Jacobite, the school's periodic newspaper.

Personal Information

I live in Portsmouth, Virginia, along the shores of the Elizabeth River with my wife, Jennifer, and four rambunctious sons, Andrew (15), Richard (13), Elliot (3), and John (an infant).

My parents, Richard and Anne Stinson, recently retired to Indiana, Pennsylvania. My father is a priest in the Episcopal Church and had parishes in Hope, New Jersey; Fort Defiance, Arizona; Mount Vernon, Virginia; and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. He also served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army in the late 1960's and then enjoyed a long career with the Virginia National Guard, retiring as the state chaplain and a brigader general. He is also perhaps the only person alive with graduate degrees from both the University of the South at Sewanee and Howard University in Washington, DC.

I enjoy sailing, writing & reading, walking & hiking, and cooking & eating.