Are we overdosing on a placebo?

The greatest man-made threat to our Planet is our current practice of overdosing on leadership placebos, a series of measures designed by those who have power over others to merely calm or please those who have power over themselves. Traditional leadership does not tend to think of the ordinary person as preoccupied with such difficult and profound questions as: What is the truth? What is authority? What is justice? To whom do I listen? What counts for me as evidence? How do I know what I know? How do I define myself?

Yet ordinary people around the world are increasingly preoccupied with the basic assumptions about the nature of truth and reality and how predominant power structures shape the way we define ourselves and interact with Nature and with others. And some ordinary people are using micro-resolutions and proactive solutions to permanently transform themselves and the lives of their families and communities. They are realizing their potential to drive more inclusive and equitable change through the value of their ways of knowing, strategies for gender and generational-sensitive economic and social empowerment and the practice of cultural-specific elements of influence and resilience.

Our Angry Planet is calling for what George Elliot, in his novel Middlemarch (1872), referred to as “that roar which lies on the other side of silence”, the roar of the grass growing and the squirrels’ hearts beating and the flowers budding. That roar is on the other side of the silent, deepening, reactionary mindset that has settled within our political, economic and social leadership community, which uses placebos to resist the prospect of unwelcome change. It is on the other side of that silence where we can find solutions to our economic, social and moral ills. To do so, we must overcome the placebo effect that dominant power structures and a single-minded pursuit of wealth are making our planet overdose on.

In this one-hour seminar, Astrid Ruiz Thierry, CEO of UpBoost LLC, looks at how the dominant power-leadership placebo effect is generating a nocebo effect that has put our Planet Earth under siege of a weakened ethos of social responsibility. What happens when people actually begin to believe in themselves instead of in something outside themselves? Instead of taking a sugar pill of foreign aid or welfare and a saline solution of partisan politics and then believing that something outside of ourselves will make things better, can we believe that we can change something inside ourselves to move to a better state of being? How can we create a more mindful society, one that promotes self-awareness and moderation with respect to where we are and what we are doing and that strengthens the value and practice of the civic virtues of compassion for others and the ability to cooperate across divides of class, race, gender, religion and geography?

Astrid Ruiz explores these and other questions. Based on her field experience in West Africa, where she lived for 10 years and continues her work as a “muddy-boots” practitioner of what she calls Aid for Empowerment, Astrid will lead the audience into a journey of possibilities. Following a brief examination of basic concepts of power and policy-making, she will provide real-life stories from Senegal, Niger, Benin, and Nigeria of how information can become transformation. She will then give the audience an opportunity to actually “walk the talk” in a mindful happening.


Astrid Ruiz Thierry is CEO of UpBoost LLC, a Prince William County-based small company that translates the hidden and unrealized potential of individuals, groups, organizations and communities into constructive choice for action. She is a “muddy-boots” practitioner of aid for empowerment and provides context-specific awareness-raising, education and training that focuses on personal, professional, leadership, and entrepreneurship development that can help close the gap between how good you are and how good you could be.


Keynote Announcement! Mobilizing to Save Civilization

The planet is warming. Glaciers are melting. Forests are burning. Refugee flows are increasing. Water tables in key food producing regions are falling, as hundreds of millions go hungry. The number of plant and animal species facing extinction grows.

Signs from around the world indicate that our civilization is on a dangerous path. But there are glimmers of hope that we can change direction. On the energy front, new solar and wind installations are outpacing conventional energy expansion. Renewable energy prices are undercutting fossil fuels in more and more places around the world. Even automobile manufacturers are embracing bicycle sharing systems to improve mobility. Tree planting campaigns are reforesting denuded landscapes, and urban gardens and green roofs are popping up in unexpected places. Improvements in literacy, public health, and education are helping to free people from the poverty trap. Using examples from around the world, Janet Larsen will discuss how we can accelerate progress to create a brighter future.


Janet Larsen is an environmental analyst working to connect the dots among environmental and social issues, including climate, energy, water, food, and security. She is the founder of One Planet Strategies LLC, where she does research, writing, and analysis as an independent consultant.

Previously, Janet was one of the incorporators of the Earth Policy Institute, where she led the research team for 15 years. With Lester Brown and colleagues, she co-authored the books The Great Transition: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy and The Earth Policy Reader. Prior to the creation of Earth Policy Institute, Janet worked as a staff researcher at the Worldwatch Institute. She has conducted fieldwork examining salt-tolerant plants on the Chilean coast and poison dart frogs in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, and continues to enjoy the outdoors. Janet holds a Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems from Stanford University and a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.


How to save species in the 21st century?

We’re proud to welcome the esteemed Dr. Pierre Comizzoli, Senior Program Officer for Science and Research Biologist at the Smithsonian Center for Species Survival!  Dr. Comizzoli is a winner of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his innovative research and scientific leadership… and we’re lucky to have him agree to open up the weekend with an extremely interesting and relevant plenary address!

Large numbers of individuals and genetic diversity in animal populations ensure long-term sustainability and adaptation to any environmental changes.  Because of destruction of natural habitats, overhunting/overfishing, and poaching, a large proportion of animal species have become too small to survive and may go extinct.  Human intervention using multi-disciplinary approaches is necessary to save these rare and endangered populations.  Fortunately, new technologies and new ways of conducting science are now available, which will increase our chances of saving species.


Pierre Comizzoli started his career 25 years ago as a research veterinarian in French Guyana and in the African Sahelo-Saharan region where he was in charge of health and reproduction monitoring programs for wild and domestic species.  Dr. Comizzoli then completed a PhD on in vitro fertilization in bovine and deer species.  In 2002, he joined the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoological Park in Washington, DC as a staff scientist to develop new projects to preserve gametes (sperm cells and eggs) and gonadal tissues (testes and ovaries) from rare and endangered species.  His comparative research on gamete biology and fertility preservation builds new bridges with human reproductive medicine.

Veterinary College of Maisons-Alfort, France, D.V.M., 1994
University of Paris VI, France, M.S. Reproduction, 1997
University of Tours, France, Ph.D. Life Science, 2000

Hiring Assessments and the 411 to Get Hired

Greg Ballard, ACC, the Founder/CEO of Great Ventures, LLC has over 20 years of management and leadership experience as an innovator and connector.  He has helped hundreds of leaders to move beyond existing barriers and as an Executive and Leadership Coach, he dedicates his time to pioneering change in the lives of professionals who want to make a notable mark in their niche. He strongly believes that individuals who are willing to invest in not only their success but their team’s as a whole are those who are capable of creating the biggest ripple effect in their business industry.

Greg will be showcasing a product called PXT Select, that was designed around the Profiles International assessment which has been around for over 20 years. The assessment measures cognitive, behavior and interests and compares them to a job performance profile.   If you’re looking to get hired or improve your career trajectory, this would be a great session for you!

Greg Ballard

Saturday Night Wine Tasting!

Understanding Wine: A Wine Course for People Who Don’t Spit

Learn to use the Deductive Tasting methodology from the Court of Master Sommeliers to select wines that YOU will love and that will best suit the foods you enjoy. We’ll start with a grounding in wine terminology, followed with a bit about the world’s important growing regions. After that, the class will use this knowledge to engage in head-to-head tasting comparisons between identical old world and new world varietals. For instance, do you know, without the aid of a label, which Sauvignon Blanc you prefer: New Zealand or Sancerre? Come to this class and find out!  You’ll be tasting reds *and* whites.

About the presenter: Mariah Sima’s credentials include being a hopeless wine snob, an enthusiastic teacher, and that one time she passed the first level Court of Master of Sommeliers exam.

If you’d like to secure a spot ahead of time, please reach out to Tabby Vos or reply to this post, and we will add your name.  After confirmation that you have a spot, we’ll ask that you send payment ($20) as Mariah is bringing wine from her own collection.  We will update this list with payment status as well.  You must be registered for the RG in order to sign up for this!

List (FULL as of 6/1/2018):

  1. Tom Schnorrenberg (paid)
  2. Bill Zigo (paid)
  3. Tabby Vos
  4. Phil Baun
  5. Tammy Metz
  6. Michele Clemente
  7. Victoria Schroeter
  8. Ryan Barrett
  9. Andrew Siddons
  10. Tara Travia
  11. Jordan Weiss
  12. Tara Lange
  13. Richard Regal
  14. Kit Hope
  15. Jeff Allen
  16. Henri Buccine
  17. Maria Malev (paid)
  18. Trey Crowder
  19. Nancy Farrar
  20. Perry Farrar



  1. Robin Doran


Friday Night Scotch Tasting!

Back by popular demand!  Jason Seiler and Jordan Weiss are co-hosting a scotch tasting on Friday night… we have up to 20 slots available for $20/ea.  This is a fee-based event, as Jason is providing scotch from his personal collection.

If you’d like to secure a spot ahead of time, please reach out to Tabby Vos or reply to this post, and we will add your name.  After confirmation that you have a spot, we’ll ask that you send payment.  We will update this list with payment status as well.  You must be registered for the RG in order to sign up for this!


List (as of 6/8/2018):

  1. Tom Schnorrenberg (paid)
  2. Bill Zigo (paid)
  3. Phil Baun
  4. Michele Clemente
  5. Andrew Siddons
  6. Chad Schilit
  7. Victoria Schroeter
  8. Tammy Metz
  9. Jordan Weiss
  10. Ryan Barrett
  11. Tara Lange
  12. Richard Regal
  13. Kevin Harris
  14. Nancy Farrar
  15. Perry Farrar
  16. Robin Doran
  17. Peter DuDeck


Session Details:

Have you ever wanted to try Scotch whisky, but you don’t know enough to order it in a bar? What is the difference between a Highland, a Lowland, and an Islay? Wait, isn’t whisky spelled with an “e”?

Known whisky enthusiast Jason Seiler will help with these and more as he presents on the origin, etymology, and process of making Scotch whisky. During the presentation, participants will be treated to six servings of whisky, each a single malt aged 10 years or better, and one each from the six whisky-producing regions of Scotland.

Ethical Leadership as the Foundation of Capitalism

We’re proud to welcome the esteemed Dr. Mansur Hasib, Program Chair of Cybersecurity Technology from the University of Maryland to open up the weekend with a wonderful address!  (we’re taking “Angry Planet” liberally and focusing on the liberal arts interpretation for this fantastic session).

Our hyperconnected world, comprised of myriad networks – both machine and human – has brought us to the precipice of a fundamental revolution and redefinition of the human experience and our socio-political and military world order. Crime, news, and even warfare is digital today.   Unfortunately executive education and university curriculum is still mired in the 1970s. Executives educated through such outdated curriculum are failing to grasp the pivotal change our world is experiencing. Their concomitant failure to tailor organizational and business strategy to the new reality, is the primary cause of a decline in ethical leadership and capitalism and our general organizational malaise.

In this thought-provoking session, award winning author and educator, Dr. Mansur Hasib shares his analysis and the key lessons from his book Cybersecurity Leadership and recommends a new way forward. He connects cybersecurity to modern digital strategy and explains why modern executives need to understand digital strategy and need to embrace people as the primary source of innovation and organizational success.

Executive leaders need to embrace the principle of ethical leadership as the foundation of capitalism. They need to understand that the fundamental promise of capitalism is that if we work hard and innovate we should enjoy a fair share of our success. People are the primary source of organizational success and perpetual innovation. Executives need to embrace people as mission critical assets instead of treating them as expenses.

Mansur Hasib


Dr. Mansur Hasib, CISSP, PMP, CPHIMS
Global Award Winning Cybersecurity Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author, and Media Commentator
Program Chair, Cybersecurity Technology, The Graduate School University of Maryland University College (UMUC)

2017 Cybersecurity People’s Chocie Award and 2017 Information Governance Expert of the Year Award winner, Dr. Mansur Hasib is the only cybersecurity and healthcare leader, author, speaker, and media commentator in the world with 12 years’ experience as Chief Information Officer, a Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity (IA), and the prestigious CISSP, PMP, and CPHIMS certifications. Dr. Hasib has 30 years of experience in leading organizational transformations through digital leadership and cybersecurity strategy in healthcare, biotechnology, education, and energy. Dr. Hasib currently teaches the art of cybersecurity leadership, digital innovation and strategy to graduate students and executives worldwide and is Program Chair of the (ISC)2 Americas ISLA Award Winning Master of Science in Cybersecurity Technology Degree Program in The Graduate School at University of Maryland University College (UMUC).

Additionally, with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Politics and a Master’s degree in Political Science, Dr. Hasib has a unique interdisciplinary perspective in digital strategy, business innovation, and cybersecurity. His book Cybersecurity Leadership: Powering the Modern Organization, has been cited and adopted globally by practitioners and scholars alike as the definitive book on cybersecurity leadership and governance. The audio version of this book is currently ranked as the #1 cybersecurity audiobook of all time. Dr. Hasib also conducted a national study of US healthcare cybersecurity and published the book Impact of Security Culture on Security Compliance in Healthcare in the USA.

Dr. Hasib enjoys table tennis, comedy, and travel and has been to all 50 states of the USA. Follow him on Twitter @mhasib or LinkedIn: To access more content or to contact Dr. Hasib, visit:

Angry Planet!

Metropolitan Washington Mensa is proud to present our 2018 Regional Gathering!   Our 2016 and 2017 RGs were a blast… they were super informative, and it was so great to see all of our friends (near and far).  Clearly, we just couldn’t resist doing it again.

We’re still early in the planning process, but program updates to follow 🙂