Russ Kloskin grew up in a family marked by violence, drug use, and poverty. At age seven his mom got him high on marijuana, and at age 11 she took him with her to perform a burglary. At age 12 he was arrested for the first time, and at age 15 he was arrested for armed robbery and tried and convicted as an adult. Russ would spend 27 of the next 35 years in prison where he became a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, one of the most violent white supremacist prison gangs in the U.S., briefly rising to the level of President during the late 90s. During a 7-year stint in solitary confinement, Russ began to see the anger and rage that had come to fill his heart and radically changed his life. He joins us to talk about his experiences and the work he is now doing to help prisoners successfully re-integrate with society when they are released.
Over four years ago, Anne Bradley gave birth to her daughter, Bailey Grace, nine weeks premature. After her delivery, Bailey spent five weeks in an incubator with a tiny tube that passed through her nose and down to her stomach to feed her. Anne often wondered what she would have done if she lived somewhere like Bangladesh where the type of medical care we take for granted isn’t widely available. She also thought about that tiny breathing tube and the people who conceived, designed, tested, made, and delivered it – people who almost certainly encounter mundane and frustrating things in their jobs and never get to see the impact of their work on folks like Anne and Bailey.
Anne is the Vice President of Economic Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics; teaches at Georgetown and George Mason Universities; and is the co-editor of two books including the recently-released Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism. She joins us to talk about the higher purpose and impact of our work, no matter how ordinary it may seem; and how capitalism, while imperfect, is the best system we’ve got for lifting up people and societies.
There are over 2.2 million prisoners in the United States. Wouldn’t it be great if we could harness their potential, give them meaningful work, and pay fair wages that they could use to help their families outside of prison? Well tonight’s guest has done just that. Since 2010, Pete Ochs, CEO of Capital III (“3”), has run businesses inside the maximum and medium security prisons at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Kansas. Pete joins us to talk about how these businesses came about, the profound effect they have had on everyone involved, and the lessons he’s learned over his 40+ year career.
Today we’re joined by David DeWolf, the founder and CEO of 3Pillar Global, a local software development firm that has been named an Inc. 5000 fastest growing company in seven of the past eight years. 3Pillar was also recently named a Washington Post Top Workplace for the 3rd consecutive year. David joins us to talk about the keys to balancing a thriving business, large family, and numerous other responsibilities, all while expressing compassion and honoring the dignity of all.
Knox Singleton has been the CEO of the Inova Healthcare System for over 30 years. Under his leadership, the non-profit has grown to serve over 2 million people annually with revenues of $3.3 billion in 2016 and over 16,000 employees at its five hospitals. Knox joins us to reflect on the changes at Inova during his tenure, the promise of personalized medicine, and the things that most significantly shaped his career and life.
The Bible is a book unlike any other. Its contents were written over the course of 1,500 years by 40 different people (from a fisherman to kings); on three different continents; in three different languages; in dramatically different settings (from prison to palaces); and in a wide range of tones including despair, joy, admonishment, and instruction. And yet its core message and teachings are unified and consistent throughout.
Despite the fact that over 6 billion Bibles have been printed, though, ignorance about its content, history, and impact abounds. A new museum opening in Washington D.C. on November 17th has been designed to address this. The Museum of the Bible is a brand new, 430,000-square-foot facility just two blocks from the National Mall and three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Today we’re hosting Dr. William Guice, Director of Church Engagement for the museum, who joins us to talk about this one-of-a-kind facility, the amazing book behind it, and why it’s important.
At age 17, just a week before she was scheduled to leave for college with a full-ride volleyball scholarship, Autumn Williams discovered she was 24 weeks pregnant. At age 20, Cynthia Wood, a high-school dropout living from day-to-day, also discovered she was pregnant. The two met and became friends, and when Autumn decided to form a non-profit called Two Percent Project that helps teen moms build a better future, Cynthia couldn’t resist joining her. Both women now have two children, work full-time jobs, and spend about as much time on their non-profit as they do on their work. They join us to talk about the initial shock of finding out they were pregnant, the unique challenges faced by teen moms, and the hope they offer young women in similar situations.
We live in a country and world characterized by racial, political, economic, and religious division. We desperately need reconciliation, i.e., to tear down the walls that separate us. But how do we do that? Today, we’re hosting John Slye, Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church in Arlington and Falls Church, a church for people who don’t go to church. John joins us to talk about the keys to genuine and lasting reconciliation, and to challenge us to get out of our comfort zone and take on the task. (This is a replay of a program that aired on March 15, 2017.)
It's hard to believe, but human trafficking (especially teen sex trafficking) is a significant problem in Northern Virginia. This past January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month so we decided to focus on the issue back then. We were joined on January 11 by Barbara Amaya, a survivor of human trafficking from age 12 through 21, who now works as a human rights advocate and is the author of the award winning book Nobody’s Girl, A Memoir of Lost Innocence, Modern Day Slavery and Transformation. We were also joined by Kay Duffield, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative (NOVA HTI), a non-profit that is working to eradicate human trafficking in the local area. Barbara and Kay shared their stories with us and told us how we can join them in working to eliminate this problem from our communities.
In 2004, the 3rd largest earthquake ever recorded struck the Indian Ocean triggering a series of tsunamis that killed at least 230,000 people in 14 countries. The earthquake caused the entire planet to vibrate and triggered additional earthquakes as far away as Alaska. In Sir Lanka, at least 36,000 people were killed. Watching events unfold halfway around the world, local businessman Jack Schwab felt compelled to go to Sri Lanka and help. He quickly formed a team that was on the ground within weeks of the disaster and has been serving the people of Sri Lanka ever since. Jack joins us to talk about those dark days when he first arrived, the love he has developed for the people he has served, and how anyone can respond to the promptings of their heart and make a difference, no matter how busy they are.
Back in 1993 on World Youth Day, Saint Pope John Paul II challenged young people to hit the road and get out on the highways and byways to spread the Gospel of Life. A young man named Steve Sanborn heard that call and decided to do something. In the summer of 1995, Steve and some of his fellow students at Franciscan University of Steubenville organized a pro-life walk across America covering 3,200 miles in 11 weeks. Seeing the overwhelming support they received on their mission, Steve founded a non-profit – Crossroads – which has been organizing walks each summer ever since. As of today, over 1,000 young people have witnessed to millions of Americans as they crossed the country in dedication to this cause. Tonight, we’re joined by two walkers who finished their cross-country trek today. Emily Ouillette and Cliff Hearn join us to talk about their experiences this summer, the people they encountered, and the mood of the country towards this issue.
Two years ago, tonight’s guest, Brandon Charles, packed all his stuff in a duffle bag, boarded a Greyhound bus on a snowy evening, and traveled overnight from Pittsburgh to DC. When he arrived, he hopped on the metro – something he had never done before – and then took a cab to his temporary new home. What makes this story compelling is that Brandon was born blind, and his bold move followed a string of challenges he had experienced over several years. The move turned out to be a major turning point in his life and a great thing for Arlington residents. Brandon has since begun producing and hosting the Breaking Boundaries program on WERA-LP, an advocacy program for the disabled. The show airs on Mondays at 4:00 p.m. on 96.7 FM and is in its second year. Brandon joins us to share his story of self-discovery and higher purpose, and to challenge us in how we see, interact with, and serve the disabled.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a non-partisan organization that operates across faith, racial, and economic boundaries while fighting for social justice in Northern Virginia? The sort of organization that works its way into government official's offices and the CEO suites of Fortune 50 companies to fight for things like affordable housing, criminal justice reform, school equality, and immigrant rights. Well today we’re joined by just such a group. Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) is a “citizens power organization” that has been fighting for the rights of low and medium income residents in Northern Virginia for nearly a decade. We’ll be talking to Robert Buckman, a leader with VOICE since its formation in 2008. Robert will be telling us about a number of VOICE’s social justice initiatives and the importance of civic involvement to the health of our communities and country.
Nearly 20 thousand people in Arlington County are “food insecure,” meaning they often don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That’s nearly 10% of the population of a county that is consistently ranked among the best places to live in America. That number skyrockets to almost a quarter-million people when you consider the 21-county area covered by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. Thankfully, Catholic Charities and their Saint Lucy Food Project are on the case, offering help to anyone who needs it and flexible volunteer programs to anyone who wants to serve – both regardless of beliefs. Today’s guest, Vince Cannava, is the Program Director and Food Source Developer at Saint Lucy. Vince is here to share his experiences distributing food to 53 parishes across the Diocese and how you can join in on your own terms and help your neighbors in need.
A number of recent studies indicate that religious freedom improves economies, undermines religious-related terrorism, and promotes the long-term stability and civility of society, among other things. Regarding the first point, one recent article estimated the contribution of religion to the US economy to be $2.1 trillion per year. Sadly, though, there has been a dramatic downturn in these freedoms globally; and even in the United States – founded largely on such freedoms – we have seen an erosion of them. Since 84% of people worldwide follow a religion, and three-quarters of the world’s population – 5.1 billion people – live in countries with significant religious hostilities or restrictions, it’s important to consider this issue.
Today we’ll be examining the benefits of religious freedom and challenge our listeners to seriously consider supporting it. We’ll be talking about this with Tom Farr, the President of the Religious Freedom Institute. Tom also directs Georgetown University's Religious Freedom Research Project, and is an Associate Professor at Georgetown's Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Today we’re joined by Os Guinness, a well-known Christian scholar and social philosopher, and descendant of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer. Os was born in China in 1941, the son of medical missionaries. While there his family lived through a period of great turbulence and famine during which two of his brothers died and the Chinese revolution reached its climax. He returned to England at age nine while his parents remained under house arrest in China, and went on to study at the Universities of London and Oxford. Os has written extensively about religious faith and its role in society, having authored over 25 books, and has served in a number of roles including Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Os joins us to talk about higher calling and the current state of Christianity in America.
According to Gallup, a “staggering” 87% of employees worldwide are unhappy with their work. In America, the number is 70% – which, although better, is still bad. Even worse, these numbers have remained fairly steady over the past 16 years that Gallup has measured them, leading Gallup to call the situation “an employee engagement crisis.” So what’s wrong, and is it possible for employees to gain a sense of higher purpose and genuine satisfaction from their work, regardless of circumstances? Tonight we’re joined by Hugh Whelchel, a former high-tech executive; current Executive Director at The Institute of Faith, Work, and Economics; and author of the book How Then Should We Work? Hugh joins us to talk about how focusing on the true meaning of our work, and working to contribute to the flourishing of society, leads to genuine fulfillment and satisfaction.
We’re talking about business for good today. It’s no longer enough to simply build a profitable business. People are increasingly demanding that the companies they buy from provide great products and services while also making a positive impact on society. As a result, companies are focusing on things like corporate social responsibility, fair trade, and conscious capitalism. Just as important, our universities are now teaching their students how to build businesses that create social value. Today, we’re joined by Lisa Gring-Pemble, an Associate Professor of Business and Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Global Impact at George Mason University (Mason); and Vijay Venkateswaran, CEO of Viventum - a local strategy and management consulting firm - and Mason alum who is assisting the university with industry engagement. We’ll be talking about how Mason prepares its students for this new world of business and the things that make Mason a truly unique school.
“This man’s grandson killed this man’s son.” This is how our guest, Azim Khamisa, is often introduced when he appears before groups gathered to hear him speak. His story begins back in 1995 when his only son, Tariq – a 20-year-old student – was shot and killed while delivering pizzas in San Diego. His killer, Tony Hicks, became the first 14-year-old to stand trial as an adult in the state of California. Tony received a 25-year-to-life prison sentence. Not long after his son’s death, Azim founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation – an organization committed to stopping children from killing children. He also invited Tony’s grandfather and guardian, Ples Felix, to join him in this cause, and the two of them have since been sitting side-by-side on stages across the country sharing the power of forgiveness. Azim has also forgiven Tony, lobbied for his release from prison, and plans to hire him at the Tariq Khamisa Foundation when he is freed.
Tonight we’re talking about hope in the face of cancer. According to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society, the risk of developing cancer in women is over 37%, and in men it’s over 42%. Cancer has been called one of the most significant challenges in human history and will affect everyone one of us at one time or another. The good news is that we’re on a path towards more rational treatments, including a better understanding of the importance of a more holistic approach that acknowledges the role of spirituality, hope, and forgiveness in healing. Today, we’re joined by Reverend Dr. Michael Barry, the former Director of Pastoral Care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, and the author of four books, including A Reason for Hope and The Forgiveness Project, all of which attempt to address the spiritual needs of cancer patients at a time when their faith is both challenged and critically important. Michael joins us to talk about his experiences and what’s truly important at such a difficult time in someone’s life.