“Kim Saunders encourages people to think creatively
and realize their dreams ... she’s a visionary leader”
I grew up in a largely white middle-class neighborhood in the Washington, DC area with my parents, three siblings, and as many library books as I could carry home every week. Privileged by my race, economic status, and educated parents, I was lucky enough to be part of an early wave of desegregation that brought me in touch with both racial diversity and R&B music when I started junior high (both have shaped my life ever since). I became deeply involved with music in school, accompanying choirs and singing in chamber groups.
My first job was as a church choir accompanist at age 11. I went to college in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I studied English and music, refereed intramural basketball, started a show choir named Musique, wrote fiction and poetry, arranged music, and began music directing local community theater productions. After I graduated I toured for two years with RCA recording artist Stacey Lattisaw playing keyboards, singing backup, and choreographing her shows, before getting married to Ray Saunders, moving to Washington state, starting a computer consulting business and a family. The five young Saunders were born between 1987 and 1992 while I continued consulting, got divorced, wrote two textbooks books on database design, joined Microsoft, got married to my wife Michelle, accompanied and musically directed over 100 shows, and attempted to stay sane.
After raising five now adult kids, and close to 30 years in high tech, in 2012 I left Microsoft to begin a new chapter with goals in four different areas: reclaiming my creative roots by collaborating on new musical theater works, creating a new home and community to live lightly on the planet (www.juanitafarmhousecottages.com – completed in January 2018), investing in a start up church community and helping support families experiencing homelessness (www.salthousechurch.org and www.nbpshelter.org), and eventually helping develop a new kind of leader in technology companies (www.pathwiseleadership.com). I do so love learning and growing, working out in both body and mind.
In 2018 I was at a two-week writing residency with Heath at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center when I had a moment of kairos. We were working on breaking down the emotional journey of our play’s protagonist into simple, repetitive steps (trauma/trigger, reaction, detachment, adaptation) which were captured by a field of yellow stickies on the wall in front of me when I suddenly saw the profound overlap of this work with my other life threads, which until then had all seemed isolated as completely different passions. That synchronicity across threads shimmered for a moment as I saw them all bound together by psychology, and specifically by the desire to tell stories about how individuals and families/communities actually work to create and support human transformation.
My writing grapples with questions of labels, how they help and heal, and how they also hurt and divide. My leadership development work centers around how to help leaders understand themselves and others more clearly and holistically, freeing them from the surface judgments often reinforced in corporate environments as well as our broader culture. And my work with my faith community and vulnerable populations is driven by the desire to collaboratively build a community where we can all be seen as our most complete selves. At that moment, standing at the yellow-stickied-wall, I experienced a deep sense of curiosity about what is next for me in these suddenly interwoven threads. How are we in our family part of creating and telling stories of human transformation?