Director & Founder: Theodore Richards

Pronouns: he/him

Theodore Richards is a poet, novelist, and religious philosopher. He has received degrees from various institutions, including the University of Chicago and The California Institute of Integral Studies. He is the author of numerous books, including Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto. His literary awards the Independent Publisher Awards Gold Medal in religion and religious fiction and the Nautilus Book Awards Gold Medal. He has worked with youth on the south side of Chicago, the Bronx and Harlem, and in Oakland. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughters. You can find more information on his website,

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 one of the three Co-Directors (with Gabriel Pickus and Theodore Richards) of Wisdom ProjectsInc. ​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