MARGARET WHEATLEY, Ed.D.
Now in my 70s, I can look back and appreciate what a rich and blessed life I’ve lived. I’ve been able to give my curiosity free rein and to be with extraordinary teachers. I’ve been able to explore a wide range of disciplines and lived in several different cultures. I’ve learned from an incredible diversity of people, from indigenous peoples to the Dalai Lama, from small town ministers to senior government ministers, from leading scientists to National Park rangers, from engaged activists to solitary monastics. This access to so many sources of experience and wisdom, held in the container of friendship, continues to deepen my resolve to bring whatever I’m learning into my books and teachings. For me, privilege is a responsibility rather than a source of guilt. Having experienced so much, I want to find the best means to communicate with all of you as we aspire to do meaningful work and be of service in this ever-darkening world.
I had an excellent liberal arts education at the University of Rochester and University College London. In the mid-sixties, I spent two years in the Peace Corps in Korea, learning to thrive in a culture totally foreign to me, teaching junior and senior high school English. I received a Master of Arts degree from New York University in Media Ecology with Neil Postman. My doctorate is from Harvard’s program in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy, with a focus on organizational behavior and change.
I have been a consultant and speaker since 1973, and have worked with almost all types of organizations and people, on all continents (except Antarctica). Working in so many different places, with all types of people, fed both my curiosity and ability to recognize patterns of behavior common across cultural and institutional differences. And it kept me alert to changing trends in leadership. I am fond of making generalizations, sometimes to the annoyance of others, but they feel genuine and accurate to me because of the scope and depth of my work.
I have served as full-time graduate management faculty at two institutions, Cambridge College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and The Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. I’ve been a formal advisor for leadership programs in England, Croatia, Denmark, Australia and the United States and, in Berkana, with leadership initiatives in India, Senegal, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Greece, Canada and Europe. Since 2009, I have had a formal appointment (President approved) to serve on the National Parks Advisory Board. My portfolio has focused on leadership and culture change within the system of 400+ parks. This work has been among the most rewarding of my career, because of the mission of National Parks and the dedicated and smart people who work to fulfill this mission under increasingly difficult circumstances.
I am co-founder and President of The Berkana Institute, a global non-profit founded in 1991. Berkana has been a leader in experimenting with new organizational forms based on a coherent theory of how living systems organize, adapt and change. We’ve worked in partnership with a rich diversity of people around the world who strengthen their communities by working with the wisdom and wealth already present in their people, traditions and environment. Berkana is now training Warriors for the Human Spirit, leaders who learn-as-community, training with discipline and dedication to develop a stable mind and skillful means. These spiritual warriors do their work with compassion and insight, vowing to refrain from using aggression and fear to accomplish their ends. www.berkana.org.
I’ve written nine books and nearly 100 articles (downloadable for free on my website). My writings have been an invitation to explore new ways of being and thinking based on wisdom drawn from new science, history, and many spiritual traditions. I’ve wanted to discover how to apply such rich and crucial wisdom to the challenges of leadership and how to live well together as community, no matter what.
I was raised on the East Coast of the U.S., in New York and then Boston; I’ve lived in Utah (happily) since 1989. I have two adult sons and have raised five stepchildren, all seven from the same father. There are 21 grandchildren (and counting) and three great-grandchildren. My family, friends and work bring me joy, and so does the time I spend in the true quiet of wilderness or wandering deep in the red rock canyons of Utah.
I enjoy being present through the lens of a camera; my most recent books include my photos and reflect my delight in noticing what’s going on.