To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to draw your attention to Brandon Williamscraig in hope that you will consider him for positions related to his areas of advanced study in mythology, psychology, religion, literature, and cultural studies that involve conflict and peace. His professional background has included teaching in the public schools, many hundreds of hours working with small groups to facilitate building community; teaching aikido and providing mediation and conflict facilitation; and a career in theater and liturgical music. He currently directs the non-profit Association Building Community in the San Francisco Bay Area where he co-founded the Guardians of Peace project.
On a personal note I can vouch for his dependability, facility for systemic thought and careful critique, and dedication to work toward the betterment of everyone in his sphere of influence. He will be clear about what he knows, doesn't know, and guesses at in the spaces in between. Collegiality and co-creation are two of his strongest suits and when he agrees to serve you, you may rely upon him.
I developed these impressions of Brandon during the many hours that he has helped me with computer problems and during our meetings for tea and to exchange ideas. If you would like his help in any of the above areas, I can assure you that you will be well served.
Formerly Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Washington University, M.I.T., Syracuse University, and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies UC - Berkeley.
[R.I.P. -- Dr. Smith ended with "If you have further questions please feel free to phone or fax me at the numbers given." He was one of the best known, universally loved, and widely read scholars of religion in the world, as well as my mentor for the final chapter of his life. My son is named for him. He passed away on December 30, 2016.]
"...Thank you for teaching and guiding me and [my daughter]. It was at times challenging to learn the techniques remotely (and I’m sure it was challenging for you to teach too), but we learned that Aikido is a way of life. And the wisdom that you shared with us along the training [has] been tremendously helpful for me, especially when I encounter challenging situations with my family and at my workplace. The key phrases and movements will stay with me, and I’m quite sure that they’ll guide me at difficult times."
Montessori Guide (teacher), Japanese born, language and traditional dance Sensei, Martial Nonviolence Assitant Instructor
"Brandon is a spirited and committed action person. He loves community and will work to make community-building happen. He is a force for change and a positive light. He does work of the highest integrity. Communication can truly improve through the practice of aikido and by being in-process!"
Martha Hart Eddy, CMA, RSMT, Ed.D. - Co-Director Moving On Center School for Participatory Arts and Research
"Brandon's skills are ideally suited to help non-profits take their next step in vision, from living with an essential idea to realizing its potential in a way that everybody involved gets what they need."
"Brandon Sensei is immensely thoughtful and clear as he shares his approach to Aikido. He’s not only creative but also what he’s teaching and developing in his Aikido practice is what our world needs now. He is passionate about what he’s doing, and truly cares that his students understand and GET what he’s teaching. I so appreciate how Brandon has put together Conflict Done Well and Peace Practices as a way to teach all people Aikido principles in both a physical and mental way. Everything in his most recent Brazil seminar made perfect sense to me and flowed beautifully. This work in the world is much needed and so valuable!"
“In my tenure at Aiki Extensions, I have found Brandon to be an insightful and articulate advocate for smarter and more effective business and marketing practices. His performance as Executive Director and as a board member give me confidence that he would be a valuable asset to any organization, either inside the executive circle or as a strategic advisor.”
Robert Kent, President, Aiki Extensions Inc.
[Upon beginning] "I'm so inspired by what you do. To me it seems like THE WAY to use aikido now. I'd love to learn more."
[After a year or so] Dear Sensei Brandon, Thanks so much for making this year more meaningful, interesting and uplifting. Your teachings have been a great anchor and support over many months and the alignment of mind body and spirit that you show us is profound. We all increasingly need to be able to do conflict well and we're so fortunate to have you as a guide and living example!
Morag Warrack - Retired Teacher, Neighbourhood Council Chair
"I acknowledge and appreciate sincerely the efforts you made to engage the class in caring for different levels of ability. I learned not only something about aikido, but also about teaching in ways that have supported me in my work."
Mair Alight NVC mentor and founder of Another Way - Communication That Connects
“Brandon and I were involved in Scott Peck's Community Building together, both taking the Leadership Training. I was also on the Board of Association Building Community where Brandon served as Executive Director and then CEO. I have a great deal of respect for Brandon's integrity, creativity, knowledge, originality and intelligence. He truly travels the road less travelled, paving the way for others to follow.”
Christine Paris, Project Consultant, Kaiser Permanente
"Brandon is a creative problem solver, who reframes the moment with a welcoming and expansive view. Novel solutions are joyously implemented for the benefit of all players. His technical acumen and collaborative intention move projects quickly to success. Your contract with Brandon will likely yield a premium over your expectation.”
Richard Page, Owner/Principal at Conference Recording Service
“Brandon is a person you can rely on. He is a straight shooter and a team player. I found him to be a warm and genuine soul who is easy to talk to. He understands the dynamics of community and how to adapt models to achieve targeted outcomes. I hope to work with him on a Community Weaving project in the future.”
Cheryl Honey R.I.P. was Founder and President of the Family Support Network, International
“Dr. Williamscraig is the rare combination of a big-picture thinker and an accomplished practical conflict resolution facilitator. His unique style and passion lends itself very well to organizations that want to maintain an edge, feel that conflict is healthy, and understand the need for a process.”
Don McClure, President , Digital Element. Inc.
“My experiences with Brandon have been ones of mutual journeys of leadership, intellect and heart. In all instances, he provided insightful material that was powerful and richly rewarding. I have observed those at the workshops and in other venues respond to his presence and the clarity he brings in his role as a leader. I would highly recommend Brandon as a extremely qualified coach, consultant, seminar leader and teacher.”
Paul Rest, Author, Owner - Aikido of Bodega Bay
“Brandon has done a great job of pulling a flailing non profit together and getting it on the road to fiscal stability. He has an easy way of connecting with people and really knows how to use technology in an organizational setting.”
David Lukoff, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
“Dr. Brandon WilliamsCraig is an insightful, knowledgeable teacher and writer. He is a sharp critic of contemporary culture, showing a remarkable grasp of the patterns and dynamics behind modern and postmodern consciousness.”
Glen Slater, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute
“Brandon is a high energy professional who brings enthusiasm, sensitivity, humor and strong work ethic to the workplace. I have experienced Brandon as a both a visionary and an administrative workhorse, bringing together the "big picture" and the minutia of running a business. In addition to his professional skills, Brandon has specialties in Aikido, theatrics, depth psychology and authentic communication techniques. This background provides a unique and interesting perspective to any conversation and allows for one-of-a-kind creative responses to work demands and challenges.”
“Brandon is an excellent teacher and outstanding community builder. He has a warm, insightful, and collaborative approach to teaching that is matched by his enthusiasm and experience in developing communities. He is an outstanding leader and collaborator and is proficient at creating a team mentality with his colleagues.”
Som Pourfarzaneh, Seibukan Jujutsu of San Francisco, Chief Instructor
"Thank you for being a wonderful aikido role model for my son during the summers. I hope you can leave for Texas feeling good about the number of lives you improved through your work in Berkeley over the years. Best wishes to you and your family."
Shannon Kelley, Peace Practices Mom
“Brandon and I trained together at Aikido of Berkeley for 18 months; during this time he has been one of my two primary instructors, second in importance only to Kayla Feder Sensei. Brandon is not only a gifted martial artist (and make no mistake, he IS gifted); he has a rare combination of attitude, focus, humor, and related communication skills to teach students of all ages and abilities with equal effect. His ability to tie the more esoteric elements of aikido to specific aspects of the physical practice makes every class a revelation.”
Paul Lord, Director, Solutions Consulting, Verizon Business
“Brandon Williamscraig is a consummate professional who manages to inspire students through unique understanding and development in techniques in his profession, and aikido practice.”
Gabrielle Thorpe, Attorney, Thorpe Law
“Brandon has the uncanny ability to instruct simultaneously within the frame of reference of the student but also to guide him/her where there is space to advance mentally/physically. This ability goes beyond empathy. What makes him unique as a teacher of Aikido is the vision to guide someone right into the stretchy zone where they are outside their comfort zone, while making them laugh the entire way. I would recommend him to anyone sincerely interested in learning to do conflict well.”
Margaret "rhette" Marsh, Design Consultant, Cisco Systems
“Brandon is one of the most engaging and creative instructors I have ever worked with. He is extraordinarily patient and gentle with his students, while always driving them to reach their highest potential. I have watched Brandon teach a small children's class, with my then six-year-old son as one of his students, and I have personally trained with him in advanced adults classes. I have known few people who have earned such complete admiration and loyalty from a community as has Brandon. I hold Brandon in the highest esteem, and enthusiastically recommend him.”
Scott Mattoon, professional newspaper editor and journalist
“Brandon is an amazingly patient and gentle teacher. He has the unusual gift being able to employ both step-by-step instructions and creative metaphor to reach all kinds of students. Brandon's style is engaging and joyful. I have repeatedly seen him relate to his students and colleagues with the highest levels of patience, compassion and integrity. I recommend him most thoroughly."
Saill White, computer programmer, interface designer and fighter
“Brandon brings passion to his work and passion means a lot for me. It's the "something else" that makes the difference when doing something. I could feel his passion and commitment on the mat - and mainly offmat -during the Aikido Kodomo Kenshukai in Berkeley in September 2008. As the Executive Director at Aiki Extensions he seems to be the right man in the right place. Friendly, Jose Bueno / Brazil"
Jose Bueno, Owner, Est Training
"If you assume that "harmony" pretty much covers all the bases, then your aikido will be oriented a certain way. In my opinion, harmony is an essential aspect, but I believe aiki embraces a much larger field of thought and action. For this reason, I've been a huge fan of Brandon's trademark that aikido is "conflict done well." Harmony may or may not be an outcome of aiki. At the same time, I readily affirm that as conflict is done increasingly well, an increase of harmony is almost an inevitable artifact."
"I found this morning's conversation the absolute juiciest....conflict resolved in a flash....no residual debris. What a rush...We tackle the thorniest issues imaginable...it takes about 5 min.....it's over. Wow. How cool is that?"
thanks for not saying i was being extreme.
trying to get me to look at what was going well.
by doing that i was able to recover much more quickly.
and this morning have a more balanced perspective on how things are going."
"Brandon is a very bright and energetic problem solver with a deep commitment to Aikido in the world. I think he will do great if anyone can at this challenging time during the unnecessary and intentionally fabricated economic collapse.
Thanks to you for all you did and do in support. Your relaxed competence and generous spirit helped keep the whole event together and made it optimally enjoyable."
Foster Gamble, international entrepreneur and film-maker
"AH! Now I understand!!! Thanks. You are a patient teacher--a quality I know and appreciate in others."
"I just thought of a possible gig for you. I've been dealing with this sticky/issue laden interaction in one work relationship. As I was going out to the garage I thought, "Brandon would be the perfect person to de-escalate situations like this." And then I thought what a good fit it would be for you to be an on-call person to go to red line conflicts, and bring things back to sanity."
"Brandon was great. Very professional, enjoyable and easy to work with."
David K. Becker, MD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF Department of Pediatrics
Full Letters of Recommendation
(From Huston Smith, Odette Lockwood-Stewart, Kayla Feder, and Leslie Zeitler among others--sign-in required. Please email brandon at culturesmith dot com to request an account)