Director & Founder: Theodore Richards
[email protected]

Pronouns: he/him

Theodore Richards is an educator, writer, and philosopher. He is the founder of The Chicago Wisdom Project (now Wisdom Projects, Inc.) and editor of the online magazine and podcast ReImagining. His work is dedicated to re-imagining education and creating new narratives about our place in the world. He has received degrees from various institutions, including the University of Chicago and The California Institute of Integral Studies, but has learned just as much studying the martial art of Bagua; teaching in various settings and students; and as a traveler from the Far East to the Middle East, from southern Africa to the South Pacific. He is the author of eight books and numerous literary awards, including two Nautilus Book Awards and three Independent Publisher Awards. His next book, Reimagining the Classroom, is scheduled for publication in December of 2022. He lives on the south side of Chicago with his wife and three daughters.

Upāsikā tree turtle
Baltimore Wisdom Project
Pronouns: tree (1st choice) or she/her (2nd choice)

Upāsikā tree turtle is a veteran nonprofit manager who helped found the Baltimore Wisdom Project. (tree’s name is spelled lowercase even at the beginning of a sentence.) tree now co-directs the organization and serves as the co-lead teaching artist. tree is also the Co-Director (with Theodore Richards) of Wisdom Projects, Inc. ​For the last 25-plus years, tree has helped guide the vision, operations, communications, fundraising, and educational initiatives of several nonprofit organizations. tree is an ordained Thai Theravada Buddhist upāsikā in the 33rd year of contemplative practice. tree possesses extensive, multifaceted training in mindfulness, meditation, and mindful movement. ​As an adjunct professor or a teaching fellow in higher education, tree taught at ten colleges and universities in the United States. For the last 30-plus years, tree has taught widely as an arts instructor, mindfulness educator, and restorative practitioner at recreation centers, arts centers, after school programs, and incarcerated facilities across the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. tree is a widely published writer (under the name Cleis Abeni as well as tree turtle); a longtime professional editor and grant-writer; and a grassroots journalist for alternative publications. tree earned an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Arts Education from The Ohio State University with four specializations in early education, secondary education, movement analysis, and choreography studies. Lastly, tree was a former movement theatre artist, vocalist, backup/session singer, and child entertainer. For more information about tree, visit