The Marion Institute

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This is the first in a series of conversations with some of the key individuals at the Institute.

Desa Van Laarhoven (Executive Director) joined the Marion Institute in 2006 after volunteering to organize the first Connecting for Change: A Bioneers by the Bay conference.

Since 2007, she has worked assiduously to oversee and develop the programs and Serendipity projects of the Institute. Desa has her B.A. in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science from Stonehill College.

Before her work at the Marion Institute, Desa spent time volunteering for both the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC*) where she was awarded the total commitment award from the southeast campus and the California Conservation Corps (where she lived in the woods for a few months bathing in a stream— seriously;). She firmly believes in the work she does, this passion was recognized in 2009 when she was awarded the Massachusetts SouthCoast Woman of the Year along side the late Senator Edward Kennedy. In addition, Desa spends a few weeks every year in Costa Rica at Rancho Mastatal, a sustainable education center, working to empower the community to live in a more restorative manner.

In April 2011, Desa spoke with Joanna about her commitment to the environment through her work as executive director of The Marion Institute, a member based non-profit that acts as an incubator, dedicated to identifying, promoting programs and serendipity projects that seek to find a solution for the root cause of an issue, both on a global and local level, in the realms of sustainability and social justice.


Music in audio is “Second Sense,” from Insides, by Jon Hopkins.


Khepe-Ra Maat-Het Heru is one of the original members of The The E.S.H.U. Collective, a grassroots transformational leadership system based in Spiritual Warriorship established in 1997. Through her work with ESHU she has consulted with various programs such as The Marion Institute, The Massachusetts Commission for National and Community Service, YouthBuild USA, NeighborWorks America, Youth Recreation Counsel of Bermuda, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate youth program of The Lake Traverse Reservation, Global Passageways first international rites of passage Hilo, Hawaii and many more. In 2010 ESHU and Green Jobs of The Marion Institute created POWER as an eco-warrior training model. Khepe-Ra is a skilled and passionate educator, artist, visionary and spiritual warrior. She has been a keynote speaker for The Bioneers Conference, a presenter/performer at YouthBuild USA’s 20th and 30th national anniversary days of action in D.C., and facilitated National Youth Symposiums and Community Leadership Institutes and others over the last fifteen years. She is an active member and supporter of the Decolonize/Occupy movements.

In May 2012, Khepe-Ra spoke with Joanna about developing an intimate relationship with the Elements and Spirit, spirituality and leadership development, the “spiritual warrior” project, “holographic kinetics,” the voice of the feminine, connecting to the Earth, freedom and spiritual activism, coming into sacred space with each other…


Music: ‘Breathing,” (from EarthLight) by A Tree Within


Michael Baldwin is the co-founder of the Marion Institute, a non-profit organization, dedicated to teaching about alternative medicine and sustainability and he is co-founder of the Buddhayana Foundation.  Michael is also the founder of Baldwin Brothers, Inc. in 1974, an investment advisor firm with over $800 million under management. Previously, he worked at Morgan Guaranty. In addition to his duties as President of Baldwin Brothers, Michael is also a trustee of the Nathaniel Saltonstall Arts Fund, The Garfield Foundation, and Northeast Growth Fund. Michael has a BA from Harvard University.

In October 2012, Michael spoke with Joanna about discovery and healing; kindness and positive change; philanthropy and empathy; restoring the feeling of community; “Connecting for Change”…


original music by Evarusnik