TEAM

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Dr. Renee Thornton

Director Of Training & Research

One of the best compliments I ever received came from my best friend, a Marine, who said that I’m a pioneer. Nothing I do is normal, traditional, or expected. I dropped out of high school at the request of my student council peers, then graduated a couple of years later and continued learning until I had two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate. Even now, I’m pursuing a Sommelier’s certification because I love to learn and I’ve learned that life is only dull if we choose to let it become so.

 

My work with Pathfinder is my way of living my own resilient path. As far back as I can recall, I lived traumatized. I grew up believing that everyone lived the same way I did, so I didn’t question the abuse or my abusers. Years of studying the brain, body, spirit, and behavior allowed me to heal and recognize that many of my coping decisions early on were incredibly healthy and responsible for catapulting me into this world of resilient self-mastery.

 

A little more than a decade ago, I made the decision to put into a curriculum some of the tactical resources I had been using to stay sane and healthy amidst the chaos that was my life. Since then, I’ve lost two of my family members suspiciously, my mother and cousin to suicide, and daily I am keenly aware of the number of veterans and first responders – many of them my friends – who lose their battles with substance abuse, lost fortunes, divorces, and life.

 

Everything I am and do is because I have mastered the art of Navigating the Adversity that this life has thrown at me. I readily admit that some of it was my own making, but that doesn’t stop me from pushing myself forward. The courses I build are a wellspring of knowledge – an amalgamation, really, of the life I’ve lived, the trauma I’ve survived, the books I’ve read, the experts I’ve studied with and learned from, and the thousands of men and women who have taken these courses. I am honored to be skilled with the ability to take so much wisdom and simplify it down into practical, validated tools that are meant to give every single person the chance to live their best lives.

 

The greatest gift I’ve ever been given is my son, Chesney. I am so blessed that God gave me the opportunity to see life through his innocent, artistic, and compassionate eyes. I believe 100% that without him, I would have been powerless to resist a simple existence. The lessons that loving him have taught me are what makes life so worth living!

“Grit is knowing what you want and refusing to quit without accomplishing it.” – Me

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Robert Mann

Director Of Client Services

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.”

 

Robert is rare in that he is a graduate of Bomb Technician school, SWAT school, and Hostage Negotiator school and has multiple certifications as an instructor in the area of arrest and control techniques. He leverages his law enforcement experiences and other professional training, such as being certified by Gallup as a Strengths® coach, CA POST as a Master Instructor, and by IADLEST as a Nationally Certified Instructor to provide professional development coaching. As an Instructional Designer, Robert’s experience is not limited to the world of public safety; he has increased productivity and safety in the logistics, production, and communications industries by providing gap analysis and training design/delivery.   

 

Robert is an adjunct faculty member at Santa Ana College, CA. In 2006, he was awarded the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Medal of Courage for an on-duty incident while working as a Bomb Technician.

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Chesney Thornton

Production Manager

Chesney Thornton has been a part of Pathfinder Resilience from day one, handling the video capturing and editing requirements for its various training programs including Navigating Adversity. In addition, Chesney has been a podcast producer since 2019 and he designs the cover art for the books that correspond with each of our training courses.

 

Chesney graduated with Distinguished Honors from Bloomington High School North in 2020 and has been accepted into the ThinkTank Training Center in Vancouver, where he will specialize in Visual Effects Arts. He is a respected gaming editor and thumbnail creator and also commentates his own work via YouTube where he is known as Welcomin.

Chesney is a proud cat dad to Boots – an independent and pushy gray tiger – and her sister, Shadow – aka the queen.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

RODGER RUGE

 

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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DR. BRANDY VICTORY

 

Dr. Brandy Victory is an experienced Functional Health Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the health wellness and fitness industry for over 25 years. She hosts The Ultimate Biohack For Women Podcast, developed the Own Your Glow 8-Week Group Coaching Program, runs the Boost Your Immunity 5-Day Bootcamp, is skilled in Functional Health, Shamanistic Healing, Intuitive Wellness Coaching & Weight Loss Coaching for Women, Nutrition, Yoga and Fitness.

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JOHANNA PUELSTON

 

I am a multi-faceted woman with many roles: wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister, employee, leader, and more. Fifteen years ago, I married my law enforcement officer husband, and what an adventure life has been ever since! The challenges, the triumphs, and everything in between has tested my strength and/or made me stronger, and I love supporting my man in his career. The weight of the badge is best shared, and I have made it my goal to be a safe place for him to land amidst the struggles and pressure of his profession. 

 

 

I love sunsets over the lake, rare lazy Saturday mornings, my kids’ laughter, road trips, new places, saying “yes!” to adventures, date nights with my man, and warm oatmeal cookies. 

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DAVID YU

 

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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UNDERSHERIFF JOSEPH ENGLER

 

Undersheriff Joseph Engler has been a law enforcement officer serving the people of the City and County of San Francisco since 1992. 

He joined the Sheriff’s Office in June of 2020 as Assistant Sheriff after 28 years  with the San Francisco Police Department where he most recently served as Captain of Northern Station. On January 11, 2021, Sheriff Paul Miyamoto promoted Engler to Undersheriff as his second in command.

Undersheriff Engler serves as the department’s Chief Operating Officer, overseeing daily operations, including more than 1,000 employees, four divisions and a $250 million operating budget. He administers Sheriff’s Office policies and develops new management practices, promoting Sheriff Miyamoto’s vision and advancing cultural equity.

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CHIEF PAT WALSH

 

Chief Pat Walsh is a decorated 35-year law enforcement leader. A graduate of the

prestigious United States Naval Postgraduate School – Center for Homeland Defense and Security, he is widely known in the law enforcement community as an innovative reformer, passionate about training and accountability. He began his law enforcement career as a Deputy Sheriff in Los Angeles County in 1984. He transferred to the Portland Police Bureau (OR) in 1992 and served the City of Portland, Oregon for 22 years.

 

As an officer in Portland, Walsh worked for many years as an undercover narcotics investigator assigned to a Federal Drug Interdiction Task Force. During that time he received a Chief’s commendation for his work in dismantling a multi-state drug distribution ring. Walsh later returned to the Narcotics and Vice Unit as a sergeant, supervising several teams of federal and local agents. In 2019, he started a new department in Menifee, California, where he currently serves as Chief of Police.

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CARY FRIEDMAN

 

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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JENNIFER O'NEILL

 

As a former designer, I find beauty in all things, even those hidden from sight. And almost fourteen years ago my husband and I found each other in of all places, a card aisle. After a brief, anonymous conversation we parted ways. Some weeks later, he unknowingly walked into my design center and we knew. We were destined to love each other.

  We have built a life of balance and laughter, but not without great effort. It takes a certain type person to be an intimate and strong supporter of a LEO. In our case, a midnight-shift LEO. I want these special souls, both cops and their families, to know they are not alone at night, on holidays or at soccer games.  They and their significant others are called to a service of love, support & dedication. We are the quiet warriors holding down the fort until we hear the sound of Velcro coming loose at dawn.

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JOSEPH COURTEMANCHE

 

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.

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KYLE PUELSTON

 

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.

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RESEARCH & QUALITY CONTROL

DR. HEATH GRANT, JOHN JAY COLLEGE

 

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.

 

A 15-year program executive, his experience and innovative style has positioned SFK’s unique approach to Social Emotional Learning as one of the most sought-after program partnership opportunities throughout Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. Currently, he serves an Associate Professor in the Law and Police Science Department of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He provides training and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies globally.

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FELIPE RUBIM, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

 

Felipe is currently working towards his MA in Psychology at the University of Chicago. His research interests include dark personality traits and criminology. As a research assistant at Pathfinder Resilience, he focuses his qualitative and quantitative research skills on law enforcement leadership and how leaders can build a more resilient, stronger, and healthier law enforcement culture, helping public safety personnel become healthier and fit for the job. One day, Felipe will be a well-known profiler serving in the FBI.

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LUCAS RUBIM, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

 

Lucas Rubim is working towards his Bachelors of Science (Hons) from the University of Toronto. Currently, Lucas helps Dr. Renee Thornton with research on law enforcement wellness. His principal focus is on helping to bridge qualitative and quantitative research, consequently helping to improve the resilience and wellness of our first responders. His dream is to one day serve in the United States Marine Corps and eventually as an agent in the FBI.

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