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Among Top 100 Nominees for National Leadership Award 

Across all of the following fields:

Arts & Entertainment
Government/Military Service
Community Service
Health and Wellness


Ted N. Strader – Top 100!

Ted ,Strader

For his over three decades of committed leadership, profound contribution to multiple fields and life-changing service to youth and families, I believe Ted N. Strader deserves to be recognized with a John C. Maxwell Leadership Award. His 30 + year history of service to youth and families began as a local effort to prevent paint sniffing among youth, and grew into the nationally recognized prevention agency, Council on Prevention and Education: Substances (COPES). His legacy includes leading an effort that successfully integrated a K-12 substance abuse prevention curriculum in both the local public and Catholic school systems. Most profoundly, the Creating Lasting Family Connections® (CLFC) Curriculum Series he developed is now in use in all 50 states, the US Territories, and in several other countries. Those involved in his programs have consistently showed significant increases in 9 crucial relationship skills. His curriculum series has also received an unprecedented 4 Exemplary Awards from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)’s National Prevention Network and three separate listings on the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP).


George Merrifield

Ted has a warm approach and responds on a personal basis to each person in his presence. His honesty, openness and frankness creates an immediate connection with almost everyone he encounters. After only a short time in his presence everyone comes to see that this is a special person, a born leader who is willing and able to assist anyone. He gives of himself, not as a job to do, but as an opportunity or a vocation. He is called and he responds. He loves to serve others. He listens to people’s concerns and raises their self-confidence. He helps to generate a mutual feeling of respect that creates fertile soil for positive change. I support Ted’s nomination for this most prestigious award. He has, and will continue to model the leadership skills so clearly described in John Maxwell’s body of work!

Valerie Kelley-Bonner

Dr. Strader is a very professional, analytical, and kind hearted man with a passion for the work that he does. Although his curricula has gone the rigors of SAMSHA, CSAP, and NREPP, he is open to suggestions for adaptations. The best part about that is when you have a question or concern, you actually talk to him, not a secretary, or a staff member. He has not forgotten where he came from. Leaders don’t have followers, they create leaders. Dr. Strader exemplifies this. I submit these comments without reservation. Regardless of the outcome of the competition, He is a winner! Valerie Kelley-Bonner, MBA; CPC Detroit, Michigan

Craig McGuire

I can provide personal witness that Ted’s development, implementation and expansion of the CLFC curriculum has positively impacted thousands of lives in many communities across the country. Ted exhibits tireless dedication to his work, unending support to his colleagues and staff and unconditional respect and commitment to CLFC program participants. Ted possesses a unique ability to speak the truth, no matter how difficult it may be, and to continually provide a sense of common respect and empathy that enables him to be an effective leader, trainer and facilitator. I believe Ted is deserving of the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award.

Dan Pardue

Ted worked with the u of L football team when I played ball there. I was not a star player but that didn’t matter. Ted had a way of making all of us equal. He worked with the city boys, the country boys like me, the white guys, the African American guys, the rich guys and everybody. He worked with the female athletes too. I know he has programs for kids, parents, teachers, prisoners, gang members, and special women’s programs. He designed a special program for African American women called Sisters Who Care that is helping reduce HIV infection and reduce substance abuse. God has used Ted to carry on his work and make a positive impact in people’s lives. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you came from, there is always a welcome hand and a listening ear. I believe that Ted is deserving of this award and the entire COPES family would appreciate it.

Veronica Jones

I have the pleasure of collaborating with Ted Strader and COPES for over 10 years. As a helping professional Ted’s generosity in donating training materials and workshop fee waivers to my nonprofit organization Peg’s Umbrella. Through Ted’s generosity I was able to assist over 150 families with the Creating Lasting Families model in the North Carolina area. Ted also serves as my mentor by making sure I am able to grow my business and stay on top of trending programs. I am forever grateful for Ted’s generosity in offering COPES programming and services. I truly believe that Ted Strader has great integrity and compassion towards all mankind. For these reason and more I support Ted Strader in the nomination for The John C Maxwell Leadership Award.

Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz

Ted Strader, over the past thirty years, has been one of the outstanding leaders in substance abuse prevention. He has demonstrated creativity and commitment in the development of a proven prevention program that addresses the need of families. By developing a network of trainers across the country, he has assured that the best practices in prevention reach a broader population. Ted’s leadership and professionalism has elevated the field of substance abuse prevention. Under Ted’s guidance, the COPES programs have been diversified to reach disparate populations. As a trainer in Creating Lasting Family Connection, I have personally benefited from Ted’s mentorship and have been transformed in my approach to connecting with families.

Frank E. Thompson, President/CEO Youth Central, Orlando FL

The CLFC program is amazing, we have been using this program in Orlando Florida for the past 5 years and we have seen improvements with relationships with youth and parents. Ted Strader and his team have come down to provide coaching, support and training for our coalition with Orange County. Ted is definitely deserving of this leadership award!

Steve Shamblen

I have worked with Ted through evaluating several implementations of the Creating Lasting Families program over the course of the past three years. I have found Ted to genuinely care about the welfare of program participants and their outcomes in life, as opposed to many program developers who are more concerned about how an evaluation reflects upon their ability to make money with their program. Ted and I share a common desire to help families affected by incarceration. He was willing to speak for free (when he was often paid to speak) to a group I work with in the prisons. I consider Ted to be both a friend and colleague.

Jim Strader

Although I must admit some prejudice because Ted is my brother, I can definitely say he is very deserving of his nomination. He has worked tirelessly for more than thirty years to help people with addictions and family problems regain their lives and sense of dignity. His dedication to counseling has inspired countless other professionals, and his eagerness to share hard -earned knowledge with others in training programs and seminars is nationally recognized. The development of his award-winning curriculums in recent years is just another example of his desire and commitment to building other leaders who can help people in need.

William Yancey

I have known Dr. Strader for a number of years. He has demonstrated commitment and integrity like no other and could not be more deserving of this award and recognition.

Chris Tobe

I have been a board member of COPES for nearly 20 years. Ted is the most creative and entrepreneurial non-profit leader I have ever encountered in my working with dozens of other organizations.

Ebony O’Rea

It is with pleasure to know Ted Strader. I’ve examined him to be a great leader, a man of strong character dedicated to his work, his team and the community that he serves. His transparency and integrity shows in everything that he does. I appreciate Ted for his openness and willingness to change while allowing space to teach others as well as learn from them. Ted is a great leader, certainly

Paul Susan

In the comparatively short time that I have worked at COPES, I have been able to join a team led by Ted Strader that is presenting a high-quality, well-researched program that was developed by Ted. He demonstrates a strong commitment to employee excellence and client growth. He is an innovator and believes strongly that client growth and change requires not only excellent program content but the formation of meaningful personal connections with program participants as well.

Darlene Gray

I have known Ted on a personal level for many years now, and am proud to call him my brother in law. His willingness to want better not just for myself and my family, but for all willing to sit and listen with a positive approach. He has such a strong desire to teach and improve the lives of so many people. I am so proud of him for being nominated for the John C, Maxwell Leadership Award. He is definitely, in my eyes, deserving of such award. Congrats Ted and thank you!

Steve Boyd

It is with great pleasure that I endorse Ted Strader for the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award. Ted’s programs have improved the lives of many people over the years with the programs he developed and authored. As a result of his programs, prisoners have been able to successfully complete his training programs and over 50% will not return to prison. He has given them the tools to become successful law abiding citizens and to be better family leaders. He has also touched the lives of those struggling with addictions and their families giving them a sense of hope, purpose and appreciation for life. His work is based off of proven methods and techniques which are backed by scientific data based off his years of experience and research. Ted has three programs listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Check out his website: www.copes.org

Ric Stuecker

Ted Strader has made a significant contribution not only to the Greater Louisville in the area of family enrichment and drug and alcohol abuse prevention, but his program, Creating Lasting Family Connections (CLFC) has touched lives throughout the United States and is a model for excellent prevention and family enhancement programming. I had the opportunity to work with Ted recently when he adapted the program for families of men and women reentering the community after incarceration. The research obtained from this demonstration project indicated significantly positive data from families who attended the program. More significantly, anecdotal evidence indicates profoundly positive change in individual families who participated. Ted is a community leader. Recently, he was honored by the Mohammed Ali Center for his significant work. His CLFC curriculum as adapted for the reentry community, for marriage enhancement and for positive fatherhood development has been many times honored nationally. His leadership especially in the area of prevention and family enhancement is seldom matched by other leaders in the field.

Bobby Hickey

I first met Ted when he formed COPES to educate the youth of the Portland Neighborhood, in the Western section of Louisville, KY, where I live, regarding the dangers associated with sniffing paint and airplane glue, huffing aerosol cans and Freon, etc. and helping the youth to develop the self esteem and courage to refuse their friends, acquaintances, etc. when offered these habits as a means to being cool. Through his efforts and the work of his organization I believe the youth of my neighborhood and the City of Louisville as a whole benefitted by having someone support them as they were and tell them they don’t need drugs or those who do drugs to be accepted by society, successful in their lives and future careers or to be a member of the “COOL” kids. Everyone knows that teens and adolescents crave acceptance, peer and parental approval and being “COOL”. Ted and his program proved to the participants of his program that drugs were the wrong route to achieve their goals and should be avoided at all cost. He was telling the youth and adolescents to “JUST SAY NO” long before the national program was put in place. For these reasons he should not only be one of the 30 finalists but the winner of this prestigious award. Regardless, I congratulate and thank him for making the protection of our youth his life career and priority!

D. Hunt – Program Participant

The development of this program is great and insightful. This program has assisted me with getting through day to day obstacles.

Emily Gypsy – Program Participant

This program is a magnificent program that teaches people from all walks of life new educational experiences in order to learn to make more positive, healthier decision through their lifetime, and to teach how to be a leader inside our family and our communities. Ted definitely deserves this recognition.

Shay – Program Participant

The program that Mr. Strader has created is very interesting, is helpful, and every week I walk away learning something new that I can actually incorporate in my everyday life.

Mark Meredith, CADC, Director

I have been working with Ted Strader for over seven years now. Ted is a seasoned professional in the field of Substance Abuse Prevention. It is not surprising that Teds Substance Abuse Prevention Intervention creation is so successful. Ted is a wise, caring and energized man who deeply cares about those he serves. Today, Ted is a true asset to the field of Substance Abuse Prevention and has left an everlasting finger print on many lives.

Robert Lanning

My organization houses offenders and we began working with Ted Strader and Copes about 7 years ago. He has always been professional, accommodating and knowledgeable about what they do. He also always expresses gratitude to those he works with.

Jason R. Segeleon

I am the former President and current member-at-large of the Board of Directors of COPES, Inc. In my 13 years of Board membership, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Ted, both professionally and personally. I can state, unequivocally that Ted is well deserving of this nomination and award. His leadership, innovation, creativity, and contributions in the areas of substance abuse prevention and family preservation are a model for all to embrace. His vibrant personality combined with his limitless drive have propelled him to make remarkable strides in the arena of life-enrichment and personal growth and discovery for countless individuals. Although I am certain that there are other nominees who have likewise exemplified outstanding leadership and achievement in their particular fields, none can be more deserving of this award than Ted.

Clarissa W. Long

I have known Ted for most of my 33 years of life, to me he is a step-father, teacher, mentor, personal and professional guide, leader and friend. I have had the pleasure of interacting with Ted on both a personal and professional level and believe he strives to motivate and encourage people to not only care for and respect themselves, but also their families and community. I have received the highly recognized, National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) listed Creating Lasting Family Connections (CLFC) curriculum several times throughout my life and believe the content and his delivery as trainer/facilitator have helped me to grow into a strong, independent and self-confident person. I also worked for Ted for 6 years as an Administrative Assistant and have seen first-hand how he motivates, challenges and pushes staff to provide excellent, meaningful and valuable services to clients. In my time working with Ted, he led three, five-year projects working with men and women returning to the community following incarceration that demonstrated significant results in relationship skills measures and in decreasing recidivism rates in the community. These results and the hard work and dedication of Ted and the staff ultimately led to the listing of the Creating Lasting Family Connections Fatherhood Program and Creating Lasting Family Connections Marriage Enhancement Program on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, which I feel honored to have had the opportunity to participate in and experience. I believe Ted’s love, caring attitude, understanding, passion, dedication and devotion to providing excellent services, connecting with others and making a difference in clients’, friends’ and family’s lives make him an excellent candidate for the John C Maxwell Award.

Jay Gordon

Ted is an enthusiastic honorable leader. He certainly seems to work very hard helping people. And….I have know him for over 50 years!

Tenesha L. Curtis, M.S.S.W., C.P.S.

Ted Strader leads people to be the best version of themselves that they can be. His work in the field of prevention is just as strong as his one-on-one influence on people that he meets and gets to know on a personal level. I’ve been working alongside Ted for the past 3-and-a-half years and know him to be a man of integrity, intelligence, compassion, and vision. His counsel and encouragement have lead me to take better physical and social care of myself; be able to more effectively show my love and appreciation for those I care for; and have more confidence in my own abilities as a social worker. He was primarily responsible for the fact that I sought out a romantic relationship (the first one of my life) and am now happily married today to the man of my dreams. I owe that happiness to him.

Gwendolyn Holder

I have known Ted Strader for 8 years and know him to be an exemplary leader. His curriculum with COPES has been utilized with numerous clients, and has been tremendously successful. His ability to write the curriculum and to teach both clients and staff is a gift. He has been able to work with one of the most difficult, high risk groups (probationers and parolees) because he can demonstrate his care and concern while holding them accountable. My work with Ted was successful largely due to his leadership skills and his commitment to the work. The community is better off as a result of the work that he does.

Dolores White

It is my belief that Ted Strader deserves recognition because he is dedicated to working with youth and families. He has gone the extra mile to teach and educate the community in the area of substance abuse prevention. Ted has a compassion for his work; he believes in what he does and will fight for what he believes. He believes that all families can work together and prevent the destructive path of alcohol and drug through education. Ted has a big heart and a big love for mankind and the destiny of our children.

Sara B. Brown

Although I’ve only know Ted a short time, I have found that his passion and insight in the Prevention field are unsurpassed. Ted is an honest, optimistic leader who routinely puts others before himself. It has been pleasure to work with Ted and I’d highly recommend him as a recipient of the John Maxwell Leadership Award.

Esther Frederick

I met Ted Strader 17 years ago. I went through the CLC program with my daughter. I was intrigued by the changes the program was making in my life and my daughter’s for the better. She was in her last semester of middle school, and had been having difficulties with her classes. She had not had any difficulties in school until this year. She was in the advanced program and in the orchestra. After completing the class, she had a new outlook on life. She was more self-confident. She became focused on what her goals were and how to accomplish them. She graduated from High School with a four year academic scholarship to a private college. She became an admission counselor at her college for three years. She then came to work at COPES as a trainer/facilitator. She is now an addiction counselor at a behavioral health center. I am very proud of her. I was impressed with the program and shared my desire to help the agency in any capacity. I was hired and have been the receptionist for the agency and worked for Mr. Strader since graduating from the program. I feel I am helping with the mission of helping others strengthen themselves and their families to grow and become more productive. Mr. Strader’s guidance and encouragement for everyone in the program is what the program is based on. He shows by example.

Mark Dobbins

I worked with Ted as a member of the COPES board for a number of years and have maintained a strong professional and social connection with him since I rotated off of the board. Ted has boundless energy, high ideals, and an amazing commitment to help those in need. I cannot recommend Ted strongly enough for this award.

Deborah Adams

Excellent work in the area substance abuse prevention. May his exemplary work be rewarded and commended. Thank you.

David Cozart

I wish to succinctly but resolutely recommend Ted Strader to be strongly considered as recipient of this award. Mr. Strader is a veteran and a pioneer in his field. He is sought after for consult locally, nationally, and internationally which he freely offers. Through his experience, knowledge, and ability to analyze, he has successfully integrated substance abuse treatment, community organization, and family enrichment. I have found that his attraction originates from his wellspring of knowledge and his authentic concern for family and community all articulated with candid sage. Programs he has created are accredited at the highest levels yet practical, sensitive, and effective in implementation. He has impacted well beyond the bounds of measurement. His leadership approach is one of empowerment and promotion. Most impressive to me is his deliberate infusion of equity, equality, and goodwill in all that he innovates, communicates, and emotes. He has masterfully quantified and woven goodwill and fellowship into methodology and empirical instruments. Again, he is a worthy candidate. I offer this as my endorsement. Please feel free to contact me if you have additional questions or needs.

Susan Sweeney Crum

It’s been my privilege to have known Ted socially for more than 15 years, but an even greater honor to have known him professional for almost that long. After joining the COPES Board of Directors about a dozen years ago, I have watched with amazement has Ted has motivated and led his staff to do the best work they can do and participants to change their lives and family relationships. The passion Ted has for COPES and for participants is evident in the outcomes I’ve witnessed, not to mention the accolades he has earned, from his peers, professional agencies, and indeed the White House! He has developed highly effective programs, and with the right people in place at COPES, has implemented those programs and in turned, equipped men and women to make positive changes in their lives, to take responsibility for their own actions and to renew commitments to their families. I simply can’t imagine anyone more deserving of this honor!

David Collins, PhD, Evaluator

Ted N. Strader is a key leader in substance abuse prevention and in the broader area of strengthening individuals, families and communities so that they can experience positive change in reducing substance abuse and other serious societal problems. His leadership is shown through a record of successful development of programming that has been shown to strengthen individuals’ and families’ resilience against substance abuse and other problems. This record includes three program listings on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Ted has led the development and implementation of successful programming to help individuals and families in Louisville and its region, and these efforts have also had an impact on individuals, families and communities throughout the United States, in U.S. territories, and in several other countries. Ted’s leadership as well as his passion for strengthening individuals, families and communities are clearly demonstrated through this important work.

Teresa Boyd Strader, LCSW

I know my husband as a man with purpose, determination, resiliency, great faith, integrity and sensitive leadership. He helps people to “tap into” their existing strengths, and then most importantly, he knows how to motivate and encourage people to generate a greater level of personal success and satisfaction though self-acceptance and self-improvement. In 2000, Ted was asked by the Editor of the Prevention in Practice Library Series, to write a book entitled Building Healthy Individuals, Families and Communities. In his book, Ted describes a word that he developed called “Connect-Immunity”. In the book Ted shares his belief that the more an individual is connected to oneself, his or her family, community and a Higher Power, the more immune one is to both internal and external negative influences. Ted demonstrates leadership first in his actions, and secondly by offering others an opportunity to “tap into” their own higher power and potential by becoming more open to growth, having humility to face one’s shortcomings, celebrating one’s own unique personal challenges and strengths, and being willing to give and receive encouragement and support to others in order to enjoy personal wellness through the power of “connect-immunity.”

Pat Roberts

I find Ted to be goal oriented and 100% committed to his work. It’s apparent that many have benefitted from his various programs.

Philip Faversham, Secretary of the Board COPES

I’ve known Ted Strader for over 30 years and have been proud to serve on the board of COPES for many years. My experience in both cases has been one of gratitude… gratitude in knowing the man and gratitude in being a small part of his efforts at making the world a better place in which to live. His work in the areas of substance abuse prevention, intervention, individual and family healing, and ultimately in creating lasting family connections have gained fantastic results with wide acceptance and acclaim. His understanding of the environment, his dedication to the task at hand, and his persistence in getting thing done have made COPES one of the most successful social services non-profits in the country. This is why I enthusiastically join in the support for Ted’s nomination for the John C. Maxwell leadership award.

Rita Strader

Ted has devoted his life to the education of the public to prevent substance abuse. I admire his energy and devotion to this cause. His program is one like no other. He deserves to be recognized with the John Maxwell award.

Robert W. Strader

Ted Strader, my youngest brother, has been a healing and uplifting source of strength in my life. He has always been there for me and helped me to face my own struggles with problems ranging from mental illness to a life altering accident that disabled me. He has also helped me reach personal as well as spiritual goals, and most importantly, to become a more open, forgiving and loving person. The importance of this cannot be overlooked. Having come from a broken family with an abusive father who abandoned us all at an early age. Growing up with these challenges was very difficult for all four siblings, and left many mental scars for me leading to a lifetime of challenges to heal. Somehow Ted learned early on how to face these challenges and made a lifetime effort to heal himself, find and forgive our dad, and continuously show love and support for all of us and our children. Ted deserves recognition for spending his life helping other people and striving to make life better for our family, our community and everyone he can reach who has a willingness to strive for personal and family betterment anywhere in the world.

La-Tangler Nix

Ted Strader is a great Trainer we are using his books in our Fatherhood program.

Brooke Arnold

Committed, dedicated, motivated, motivator, and influential are the words that first come to mind when I think of Ted as not only a leader for our team but also as a mentor and co-worker. Over the past 6 years, I have witnessed first-hand his dedication to provide high-quality prevention services to the individuals and families in our community and more specifically with couples through the marriage education curriculum he developed that has since been listed as evidence-based. The couples that Ted and I worked with were exposed to a leader in the field of prevention who has worked diligently to move our culture towards one of health, wellness and wholeness. He is true to this word, committed to his relationships and is completely transparent. As a professional in the social services field, Ted walks his talk and gets the job done! The knowledge I have gained from Ted has not only been helpful in my professional life but also in my personal life for which I am forever grateful.

Scott Ballinger

I have known Ted for over 10 years. At first, our relationship was strictly professional. Ted provided a CLFC training for our local substance abuse prevention coalition. Since that time, Ted and I have become good friends. He is dedicated and caring to his family, friends, community and all society. Personally, he has guided me into a better person and father. I am blessed to have meet such talented person.

Andrew M. Boone

It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked with Ted Strader for the past 6 years. Ted is always thinking ways to help others improve their quality of life. Ted has motivated and inspired me to continue to help others who are addicted to drugs and alcohol or who have been incarcerated due to their addictions. Please continue to do the work that I believe you were destined to do.

Fr. Joe Merkt, M.A.T. and S.T. D. (Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology)

Introduction I have had the privilege of walking with Ted Strader for over 30 years as he and his programs grew and developed. We met in the early 1980s when I took on the additional responsibility of Coordinating the Drug and Alcohol Prevention Programs in seventy-five elementary schools and eleven high schools (in eight counties) for the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Catholic School Office. Some schools were small and in rural areas, others were small inner city schools struggling to stay afloat, others were in “hard hat” areas, and others were bursting at the seams in thriving moderately wealthy suburbs. With Ted’s coaching, we at the Catholic School Office began to develop some effective drug and alcohol prevention programming. Ted helped us set up pilot programming in in several very diverse schools. He helped us meet with the principals, faculty and parents. With their acceptance, he provided extensive and intensive teacher training and needed support services for faculty, parents and children as the programs unfolded in the classroom. Word spread among the school principals and teachers about the quality and depth of the in-services that Ted and the COPES staff provided as well as the back-up support they offered. Over a period of five to six years most the elementary schools had implemented the programming and some of the high schools had begun programming as well. Over the years this partnership with Ted Strader and COPES and, to the extent possible, collaboration with the public school offices, bore much fruit and the prevention program in our Catholic schools was recognized as an exemplary program by U.S. Department of Education. Honors were received even in the Rose Garden. Because I had learned so much from Ted, the U.S. Department of Education chose me several times to be a member of the small onsite visitation teams that would identify exemplary drug and alcohol prevention programs in other school districts across the country. In all of this Ted could have rightfully claimed honors for himself, but chose to step aside and empowered us to walk into the limelight. Of course this energized us tremendously and deeply enriched our programming efforts. In 1991, our school office began a radical restructuring process and downsizing. I was asked by our Archbishop to take a position at Spalding University, a small Catholic college in Louisville, where my doctorate degree in theology was pulled off the shelf and combined with my Masters in the Arts of Teaching. There I was asked to develop and direct graduate and undergraduate programs in ministry studies for the growing number of laity serving in leadership roles in Catholic parishes. Though our paths parted in one way, Ted and I continued contacts in other ways. It has truly been a privilege to observe the journey of Ted’s growth in expertise and wisdom over the years. I am writing my reflections on Ted’s leadership skills primarily from the ten years of experience I had with Ted in drug and alcohol prevention programs and student intervention programming. However, I am also keeping in mind all that I have observed in the twenty years that have followed. Ted Strader’s Leadership Style Ted was a good leader from the get-go. However, his growth as a leader blossomed year by year. This growth came about because of Ted’s commitment to authenticity – personally and programmatically. I believe that his growth in leadership and effective programming merits examination and I am thrilled to do that. Nonetheless this is to be a small paper, not a book. My analysis, therefore, will be somewhat abstract. If more information is needed, please do not hesitate to contact me by my cell phone or my email address. Vision and Values As I began to collaborate with him in 1981, I discovered that Ted Strader was not only filled with unbounded energy and creativity, but was also a person of vision with deep and unshakable values. He was most scrupulous in his commitment to “do the right thing”. He was determined to honor the dignity and worth of each person whom he served, with whom he worked and for whom he worked. He instinctively honored the dignity and worth of each person whether wealthy or poor, healthy or addicted, held in high esteem or marginalized. His keen awareness of his resiliency and the resiliency of those around him, informed his positive vision, a vision that made it possible for him also to look into the shadows. His keen awareness of his own limitations and imperfections and the limitations and imperfections of those around him, made him very sensitive to those in need, especially youth and the poor who were vulnerable because they could unwittingly be caught in the trap of chemical dependency or dysfunctional family dynamics or who were already in those traps but did not even recognize their situation. He believed that each person has the potential to blossom and grow. He trusted that each person who is looked at with eyes communicating true loving care and with a heart daring to give honest feedback will be enabled to honor their own true gifts as well to see through their delusions, dysfunctions and addictions. In sum, his was a vision of transformation: a vision of good people, aware of their gifts and their brokenness, both celebrating the life within and around them and also exercising the strength and leadership needed to make this world better for themselves, their families and us all. Fortunately this was a vision to which most of our school principals and teachers were deeply committed. They welcomed the vitality he brought to them and practical insights he often shared with them. Attending to each person’s lived experience Guided by this vision and the accompanying values, Ted was always willing to listen carefully, especially to those in need, so as to enter into to their experiences and see the world from their perspective. He sensed the risk involved in such listening. Salt dies to itself as it brings out the flavor of food it is seasoning and Ted instinctively knew that he would have to be willing to die to his preconceptions and any related prejudices if his listening were to bring out the flavor of the person speaking. Yet he listened anyway. He was determined to look at things from the perspective of those whom he served, with him he served and for whom he worked. Such stretching, at times made him quite uncomfortable. Sometimes he succeeded better than others, but he never turned back and over the years most of our school communities felt deeply listened to. Inviting new questions Ted sought to welcome the new questions that would emerge from such listening. Even when there was a temptation to resist, he held on and let them wrestle with him. He learned to live, sometimes for years, with many unanswered questions, questions related to more effectively serving the basic human needs of our society and of his program participants no matter what the settings. Welcoming new insights Whether they came from unexpected sources or woke him up in the middle of the night, Ted welcomed new insights and he explored them carefully. On more than one occasion Ted called me, “I have a ton of new insights. Some are really threatening, a few are very exciting, most are in between. Can we talk them over?” Then, after sometimes lengthy conversations, Ted would conclude, “Thank you very much. I now know the experts I need to consult as I think these ideas through on a more systematic level.” Checking insights out Even after he had explored his new insights with experts, Ted believed that they needed to be checked out even further, sometimes in the laboratory of trial and error. He was convinced that not all ideas that sparkled were valuable and that some making him “squirm” were the most central. For this reason, Ted was not willing to go with quick solutions to problems that were often much more complex than the programs or approaches proposed. He was willing to get confused with the facts. He was willing to search, for example, for drug and alcohol programming nuanced enough to: 1) honor families that could safely enjoy a glass of wine at family celebrations, 2) while presenting guides for families with high risk factors, 3) while “intervening” in families caught in chemical dependency, and 4) while supporting families committed to abstinence for religious beliefs or because they were in recovery.” This meant that over and over he found himself bucking popular trends and turning down opportunities that could have won him prestige or popularity at the time. He showed utmost respect for those who became committed to the new “hot programs” that were coming into vogue. He always worked with them in a collaborative way. However, he would not compromise the truth as he saw it. This meant that once he and I had a rather intense disagreement because I wanted to add in a poplar prevention program that would bring status to our school system. It was not easy for me as a priest who cared deeply about the faculty and students to listen to a “sermon” from Ted that reminded me, “Father, the kids and the families are more important than prestige for the school system.” However, he was tactful, added a sense of humor and was persuasive. Soon I was once again looking with him at the bigger picture and the deeper issues in the search for more adequate insights that would provide better programming. Accepting responsibility He knew that others could bring a perspective that would be challenging and hopefully in some instances very affirming. When the evaluations were clearly positive Ted accepted responsibility for that affirmation. He would pour his energy and resources into strengthening and promoting the program among his staff, program participants, program sponsors and related areas of the public. When the assessment pointed out areas of failure or areas of in need of redirection, Ted also accepted responsibility. He brought his staff, program presenters and at time participants into a process of accepting the reality, as painful as it may be, and enlisted their support in brainstorming solutions to the problem. When necessary changing As indicated above, there were times when I needed feedback from Ted. Nonetheless, there were times when Ted needed feedback from me. Even when my feedback was pointed, Ted always received it well. He thought about it. Reflected on it. Made it his own. And when called for, Ted changed. Ted invited personal change on all levels. I will use a word most often associated with a change in spirituality, a religious change: conversion. Ted was open to conversions: intellectual, affective, ethical and spiritual. Conversion, as I am using the term, means more than change, it involves a rethinking, a personal transformation and a new way of acting and living. The decision to change was not always easy for Ted, but no matter what the cost he was willing to acknowledge the new realities and change when change was called for. Open to conversion on all levels: intellectual, psychic, ethical and spiritual Ted was willing to change intellectually, be converted intellectually. This meant that he was willing to reframe things when new insights surfaced and see things from different perspectives when appropriate. He embraced new self-understandings and rethought his program and its processes as needed. His commitment to ongoing external review and evaluation, meant that he realized things were not always as they seemed to be. Ted was willing to grow and change affectively, be converted psychologically. As he opened his heart on the interpersonal level to allow those with whom he worked, those he served and those for whom he worked to reveal their deeper meanings, experiences and dreams, he also empowered them to give him honest feedback and to lead him into new and uncharted territory. He worked hard not to filter their input in the light of his life history or his own personal biases. For example, he worked hard at not interpreting his experience in one Catholic school in the light of his previous experiences in other schools. He invited me and each school principal to guide him in this process. Ted was willing to learn what “doing the right thing” meant in each situation, to be ethically converted. He strove to put the well-being of those he served and with whom he worked ahead of his desires and wishes for himself or his program and welcomed feedback in this regard. Just as he welcomed the intervention of others if he was off base, so also, whether it was easy or not, Ted was willing to intervene in a loving, but forceful way, when such intervention was needed by those he served, with whom he served or for whom he served. He would not compromise his values nor COPES’ values. Nor would stand by in a passive, co-dependent way, if others were compromising their integrity or the program’s integrity. Ted was willing to grow spiritually, to undergo spiritual conversion. Ted carefully listened to, for example, to those in recovery who shared what it meant to “turn their life over to a higher power.” He truly honored the spirituality involved not only in 12 step programs, but the spirituality involved in the heart of each person. No matter what their faith, their denomination, or their religious tradition, Ted sought to help them grow their faith and also to let their faith be a positive influence on his spiritual growth as well. Of course, I and the other priests or ministers with whom he might be working, needed to be prepared for Ted’s more pressing theological questions. Openness to deeper foundations, renewed self-identify and new risks Ted fostered this openness to “conversion” in all whom he served, with whom he worked and for whom he worked. Sometimes such a personal transformation (whether intellectual, psychological, ethical or spiritual), would call Ted, and his coworkers, to re-examine their programs, policies, vision and values so as to establish a broader and deeper foundation for their work. Sometimes this meant researching unexplored areas, rewriting curriculum, changing strategies, establishing new goals and objectives, developing new strategies, designing new programs, collaborating with new resources, changing staff responsibilities or even hiring new expertise. At times, such changes sometimes meant changes in self-identity. For example, COPES went from being a provider of school prevention programs, to providing family connections for those prevention programs, to working with ex-offenders, to working with troubled families, etc. These program changes were not treated as add-ons. Each one was consciously integrated into the overall identity of COPES at the deepest level even before the next program was added-in. Inviting external and internal accountability Moving into the unknown had the excitement of being on a pioneering venture. Yet Ted realized that newness entailed real risk, so new ventures were deliberate and intentional. Because he knew changes would not always yield hoped-for results and sometimes would yield consequences that were neither anticipated nor intended, Ted would pilot new ventures carefully and seek 360 degree feedback and external evaluations when possible. The new foundations and the new ventures were examined and re-examined as the data came. Needed changes were made until program had been nuanced enough that it could be evaluated by critical, respected outside evaluators Searching for a new deeper, systemic understanding Once positive data was coming in, Ted, the COPES staff and its collaborators took the next painstaking step of studying the new insights and questions that came with the success. This often time meant reading new literature and talking with experts in new fields. More than once Ted brought me a book or two in the field of sociology, developmental psychology, brain chemistry, or chemical dependency studies so that we might share together the insights these works might contribute to a better understanding of how the pieces of our program fit together and why that combination was working so effectively. Accepting the responsibility to share with others. Only after new insights provided a deeper understanding of what was going forward and why, did Ted accept the next and at times the most painful responsibility. That was accepting the responsibility of writing up these new insights and then communicating what had been learned in numerous ways. Of course, he was deeply gratified and sometimes surprised by how much these insights were respected as COPES programs were honored by peers across the country. This recognition and the presentations they generated brought Ted into dialogue with leaders in numerous fields of prevention. Such dialog would mean seeing his prevention activities from new perspectives. Beginning the cycle all over again He welcomed these new perspectives as opportunities for further learning. He instinctively realized that authenticity demanded he view his leadership tasks as climbing a spiral staircase. With the completion of each cycle new heights could be reached, but new heights/depths could only be attained only if the cycle is begun anew. That meant accepting the responsibility to re-examine his vision and values, allowing them to open him up to new experiences, to new questions, and new understandings. He knew that that would mean then checking the new insights out carefully and moving forward deliberately, even if such action would call for more internal personal transformation. Ted knew that he would need to accept the new responsibilities that would come from that transformation. He also realized that he would then be called to establish new initiatives, undergo further rigorous external review, seek new depths of understanding and then communicate his findings to collaborators and peers in the field of prevention. Ted instinctively new the pains that were ahead. In spite of the pains, he made the choice, year after year, to intentionally and meticulously begin the cycle all over again and so as to be faithful vision and values that spoke deeply in his heart. Enhancing the leadership of others I think that Ted’s leadership style and his fidelity to its requirements merits recognition and study. However, I also believe that it is the foundation for his more recent and successful programs. If one looks over the curriculum one will find that he is teaching, COPES program are teaching, ex-offenders and troubled family members how to:

1) name their vision

2) articulate their experiences and problems

3) honor the questions inherent in those experiences and problems

4) revel in the many insights they get into those questions

5) think critically about which answers, which solutions are truly valid

6) accept responsibility for being faithful to true and solid solutions

7) be open to inner transformation and conversion intellectually, psychologically, ethically and spiritually,

8) establish new foundations for their lives

9) try new approaches

10) welcome external accountability

11) pause to examine understand the profound changes they are experiencing

12) learn how to communicate their new self understanding to others

He is teaching them, COPES programs are teaching them, to be victims no longer, but to be leaders. Ted and his staff are successful at this because they are walking the walk with those they serve and together, they are learning from each other how to be more and more effective leaders now and in the future.

COPES, Inc. Social Media Links

Executive Director (Ted N. Strader) Social Media Links