Sources of joy: learning from Frank Ochberg

I’ve been very fortunate to have many influential mentors in my life.

As readers of this space know, Paul Tamburello and Dave Russell are key members of that list.

One of the joys for me about knowing these men over time is the various ways I’ve continued to learn from them over time.

Paul has had a substantial and varied impact on me throughout the past 38 years as a classroom teacher, mentor teacher, friend, blogger and fundraiser.

Since first meeting him on a wintry day in mid-January 1991 at the ferry taking us across the harbor to Thompson Island, Dave Russell has shown the way for more than two decades as an educator, husband, father and warrior for social justice.

These relationships and their multiple dimensions mean a lot to me both because they’ve helped me chart my own growth and development and because they’ve helped me come to a more spiral-like and less linear understanding of life.

Growing up and at least into my early 30s, I thought of proceeding through time in a direct fashion.  In many cases, I did not continue friendships I made in one situation after it ended.  My lack of follow through was not based on any negative feeling toward the person, but rather a lack of understanding how to transition from an initial connection to a more enduring relationship.

Paul and Dave have helped me make that transition.

Which brings me to Frank Ochberg.

Since November 2008 I’ve had the great and good fortune to know and learn from Frank.

We met when I attended the Dart Center Ochberg fellowship that bears his name.

I didn’t realize then how significant an experience that week and our subsequent relationship would prove to be.

In the close to four years since then, I’ve learned from Frank in ways that are almost too numerous to count.

He’s taught the more than 100 of us who have attended the fellowship about trauma and violence and his tireless work to build bridges between clinicians and journalists.

He’s helped me understand the trajectory of a career dedicated to making national and international contributions as a clinician, thinker and incubator of organizations he then helps nurture and grow.

In my service as Dart Society president, Frank has been unfailingly available, supportive and encouraging.

All this says nothing about how I’ve learned from Frank’s example as a joyful husband, father, grandfather and friend who sucks the marrow out of every second of his enormously rich and varied life.

I want to be clear here.

Being around him can be exhausting and there have been a number of times where he has not hesitated to give me very, please forgive the unintentional pun, frank feedback.

But I believe those interactions are a testament to the trust we have forged and his belief in what we in the Dart community can accomplish together if we are willing to act decisively and put in the necessary work.

I am approaching the end of my tenure as Dart president in early November with a combination of pride, relief and sadness.

Pride in what we’ve been able to build together.

Relief that it will be someone else’s turn to shoulder the load of serving in the board’s top position.

And sadness that this may mean I won’t be in as regular touch with Frank.

But if Paul and Dave have taught me anything, it’s that the end of one chapter of learning from a mentor does not herald the end of the relationship, but rather the beginning of a new and yet unknown phase.

I look back in gratitude for what Frank has given me thus far and forward to what will come next.


3 responses to “Sources of joy: learning from Frank Ochberg

  1. Terrific segue to Frank Ochberg, laying out in detail how he’s enriched (and critiqued!) your work at the Dart Society, and making your point of how to reintegrate your relationship with him once it changes form as you step down from your role as president of the Dart Society. I admire how you use the blog to integrate your professional and personal life with a perceptive, reflective, candid, often humorous style, generous to all you write about. After November…Frank Ochberg, Part 2!

    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Thanks, PT. I know from our connection that there can be many parts to a connection; I’ve lost track of how many we’re on at this point!


  2. You have done so much in this year as president of the Dart Society, but soon it will be someone else’s turn. “Pride, relief, and sadness”: I belief I understand what you mean. I hope you can continue your relationship with Frank into a new and unknown phase. And BTW, thanks for the shout-out!

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