One of the more unique aspects of the Navigating Adversity™ training program is the use of Certified Peer Mentors.  Each trainee is assigned to a specific mentor from the First Responder profession.  The mentor provided regular guidance, feedback, and encouragement to whatever extent the trainee feels comfortable with.


Rodger Ruge has helped develop the Navigating Adversity curriculum and is also a Certified Peer mentor.  Hear what he has to say regarding the role of the mentor in Navigating Adversity and why the mentors play such an important role in helping trainees achieve wellness and lessen adversity.

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Mann served for twenty-five years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, six years in the United States Marine Corps, and nearly three years as a Program Coordinator with the Government Training Agency. Today, as a founding partner in Pathfinder Resilience, he is dedicated to giving back to the “community of protectors.”




A founding member of Pathfinder Resilience, creator of the HEROES Project model for Navigating Adversity, and founder of the nonprofit advocacy organization the Command Post, Renee’s specialty is pioneering validated methods for developing resilience. Her organizational leadership skills result in mitigating risk in critical professions and her individual coaching inspires renewed hope, self-confidence, and optimistic performance in each of her clients.


In addition to writing nonfiction and publishing in peer-reviewed journals, trade magazines, and blogs, she is pursuing publication as a seasonal fiction author highlighting beautiful Mackinaw Island, Michigan. Her favorite place to unwind and reconnect is anywhere along the Great Lake shoreline of Superior, Huron, and Michigan.

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I received my B.A. in Communications from San Diego State University.  After graduating, I worked, studied, and traveled through Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East for 4 years. The 4 years abroad was an incredible time of growth and learning. I had an opportunity to infuse myself with variety of cultures, traditions, and philosophy on life from the perspective of the locals. Most importantly, the odyssey was a great discovery of self. I contracted Malaria in Mandalay, my transportation vehicle struck a landmine in Mozambique, along with many other mishaps. My traveling adventures gave me incredible life changing experiences. When I returned home, I was passionate to share my experience through motivational and life coaching.

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I have been a deputy sheriff in Minnesota since 2006. Since that time, I have worked in various assignments including Field Training Officer, SWAT Team assistant leader, and patrol sergeant. In addition to that, I also oversee our social media team and mobile field force team. A couple years ago, I also worked on starting our drone program which has proven to be very beneficial to our agency in providing important information and has helped keep our cops safer. 

When I'm not busy working, I am busy doing life with my wife and five kids. I enjoy road trips and travel, running and reading, baseball and craft beer. My dislikes include stepping on LEGOS, weak coffee, and being a hopeless Minnesota sports fan.




Rodger Ruge graduated with honors from Sacramento State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. Rodger began working as a police officer in 1986 for the City of San Rafael holding assignments as a patrol officer and member of the Special Weapons and Response Team (S.W.A.T.). In 1990, Rodger left San Rafael for the City of Santa Rosa where he held numerous assignments including working on the Neighborhood Enforcement Team (N.E.T.) focusing on street level narcotics, prostitution and gang enforcement in Santa Rosa’s most troubled neighborhoods.

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Cary A. Friedman is Associate Director of the Law Enforcement Survival Institute and the author of eight books, including Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement (2005), Wisdom from the Batcave (2006), and The Superhero Handbook for First Responders (2021).  He is a police trainer on matters of stress-management and ethical decision-making.  A hospital, prison, and police chaplain, he began consulting to the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit in Quantico, VA in 2000, and contributed to the design of the “Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement” course for the FBI’s National Academy.

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Joseph Courtemanche is an award-winning author, former law enforcement officer, and military veteran. He is retired after working the last few decades in the technical world, and is working on developing new products for the first-responder community, writing novels, and recording audio books for Crossroad Press.

In addition to all of the above, he’s mentoring in the Navigating Adversity program online. Using skills gained in law enforcement and the military, he not only identifies with the students, but can use his experience to guide them through the coursework. His decades of work in multiple fields give him a perspective unique from others, as well as a sympathetic approach to helping his students find their way through the course, and subsequently life’s challenges.




Dr. Heath Grant was recently named as the Director of the Master’s in Criminal Justice program at John Jay College. Prior to returning to the full-time faculty of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2013, Dr. Grant was most recently the Director of Research of the Police Executive Research Forum, a leading Washington DC organization dedicated to advancing law enforcement and crime prevention internationally.


Formerly, as CEO, of Success for Kids (SFK), he oversaw the planning, implementation, curriculum development, partnerships & strategic program alliances and evaluation of the organization’s international programs and services.

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Erik is diverse yet balanced. He started martial arts at 7 yrs. old, a black belt at 14, prior All Army Taekwondo competitor and Krav Maga Law Enforcement Instructor. Later in life he became a yoga practitioner and eventually a yoga and meditation instructor.

In 2017 Erik became a certified Wim Hof Method Instructor and gives courses to civilians, military and law enforcement. The course consists of three pillars; breathe, cold exposure and mindset. The Wim Hof Method is a science backed program proven to heal and strengthen the mind, body and spirit. After a career in Law Enforcement and a lifetime of martial arts, Erik first applied the method to help heal his own wounds and now enjoys sharing the method with others.




Andrew Romero is a detective in the organized crime division of the Austin Police Department.  He has worked as an investigator in the Child Abuse, Sex Crimes, Robbery, and Homicide Units.  Andrew recently completed his 20th year of service.

He has also served as a trustee for the Austin Police Retirement System and as the Vice President of the Austin Police Association. Andrew also serves as a Director of the Texas Lyceum, an organization dedicated to the education of Texas leaders on matters of public policy. Andrew’s interests include listening to music, fishing, and traveling by motorcycle.

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Dustin Külling is sworn Captain, leading the Field Forces Division at a sheriff’s office in Northern California. His division is staffed by over 243 sworn and professional members who provide front-line law enforcement services to the community. He oversees numerous high- profile programs and units funded by an annual budget exceeding $58 million. His oversight includes the Community Car Program, Agriculture and Narcotics Enforcement Team (A.G.N.E.T.), Uniformed Patrol Operations, Special Weapons and Tactics, Hostage Negotiations Team, Explosives Ordnance Disposal Team, Mounted Patrol Unit, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Canine Unit, Boating Safety Unit, Animal Services Unit, Communication Center, and Crime Analysis. March of 2021 marks the beginning of Dustin’s 26th year working in law enforcement.

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Since 1978, when I open the Stress Education Center, I have looked for the very best ways to serve and empower people. In the 1990’s when Rodger Ruge and I teamed up to bring this valuable message to First Responders, Law Enforcement Professional through POST, and Military personnel we have ridden the roller coaster of departmental politics and resistance to the message of resilience training. It has been AWESOME! What a ride. The challenges have been incredible. My best-selling book, “Guide to Stress Reduction,” only got my foot in the door. But our authentic caring and our focus to serve found a way to reach many wonderful First Responders. You are the heroes who can benefit the most especially in these challenging times.

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Jake is a former police officer who had the opportunity to work a variety of specialties during his career including patrol, street crimes, investigations, and field training officer. After seeing so much suffering and going through my own, he became passionate about wellness and started studying everything he could find. He is now a certified health coach and mindfulness/meditation teacher with a passion for helping others reduce stress, build resiliency, and to live a life with meaning and purpose.




I am a retired sworn law enforcement professional with 27 years of service, with a BA and a MS, having worked from line level all the way through to upper management, and retiring as a Division Chief. In addition, I was fortunate to be responsible to pioneer and establish my agency's Peer Support Program, manage the program, and coordinate department responses to critical and traumatic incidents. Although worked in most assignments as I rose through the ranks, my strongest enthusiasm has always been in the area of developing others and cultivating an environment to support the growth of the most important assets of an agency, our sworn and professional staff. In retirement, I  have continued as a Board Member of the Public Safety Peer Support Association (PSPSA), a non-profit agency that supports active and retired first responder personnel.