The classes are taught by two teachers, approximately 40 mentors and one social worker that provide regular interface with parents, schools and students, working with them on current, environmentally critical projects. Our goal is to keep approximately a one-mentor-per-student ratio. Mentors serve to expand the student’s vision of their future by acting as role models as well as by teaching and helping them grasp scientific concepts.
Walt attended high school at De LaSalle then went to college at Longview Community College to receive an associate’s degree in mechanics. Then, he attended Kansas University to earn an engineering degree and a masters in business. During the weekdays, Walt works as a mechanical engineer at a manufacturing company making automotive lights and engineering machines to make other parts. A typical day in Walt’s work life is going to meetings, getting new projects, making new machines and products, and fixing problems.
Walt says that he “cannot NOT come every Saturday, it’s a passion, something I can’t do without.’” His favorite thing about the MINDDRIVE class is the interactions with different people of different backgrounds with creative young energetic minds. Being that Walt is a huge jokester, when he was first asked, he gave the answer that his most interesting accomplishment was making it past 21-years-old.
Bruce grew up in Kansas City and attended the University of Missouri School of Business. After school, he became involved in his family's manufacturing business. He successfully has led the last 20 years of his family’s 50-year-old molded plastic and metal fabrication manufacturing concern located in Odessa, Missouri. The firm is a leader in the development of injected molded products. Their facility occupies 400,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space and has 200 employees.
Bruce’s background in business led him to lead his company’s efforts to develop new products and concepts. Bruce led the company’s development of a new ground up electrical vehicle and sold over 100 units. The vehicle was marketed as a low-speed model for use in retirement villages and cities that allowed slower vehicles on the roadway. The unit was capable of 40 miles under typical driving conditions and 100 miles under perfect testing conditions. The propulsion system was based on a 72 volt system comprised of four 12 volt batteries and three 8 volt batteries. It had regenerative braking.
Bruce brings real world business viability to the project so that the students will understand the elements of and importance of practical solutions.
Mike graduated from Van Horn High School in 1976 and immediately entered the United States Marine Corps. Following his Honorable Discharge in 1978, he began his career in metal fabrication. He attended welding school and graduated in 1984. He became a welding instructor at the Sullivan Educational Center. He, in addition to his metal fabrication teaching, also studied automotive body repair and began to also teach automotive body repair school. Mike taught welding and blueprint reading at the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Training Center for ten years and for the past eleven years has been a with ICF Industries where he is now a part owner. The firm as a metal fabricator makes metal prototypes and fabricates metal components. Mike does welding and has extensive experience with all fabrication machinery.
Mike has always had an interest in racing and has built bicycles, motorcycles and cars. He has been on pit crews, functioned as a racing team mechanic and has been a racing driver. In his many years of involvement with the automobile, Mike developed an interest in the efficiency of energy systems. He designed and constructed an electrically powered dragster and patented his unique process for energy efficiency that he hopes to apply to the DeLaSalle project. His background in teaching and his long relationship working with children makes his experience important to the project.
Bio coming soon!
Linda has worked in the advertising community in Kansas City as photographer’s rep, an art buyer at one of the largest independently owned ad agencies, and the director of marketing at the premiere film and video production company before starting her own marketing strategy company, Linda Buchner Creative Management.
As a founding partner and instructor of the Contemporary Communications class at MINDDRIVE, Linda shares her knowledge of photography, videography, web site content development and social media.
Buck grew up in Germany, raced motorcycles cobbled together from parts laying on the side of the road, left by US soldiers after WWII. He was recruited by BMW to become a racer wearing their uniform, then became an engineer for BMW in Munich. Assigned to repairing US airplanes, he met a US airman, who would eventually become his brother in-law and moved to the States.
Buck loves teaching the students about the importance of tool safety, putting tools back in their proper place in the toolboxes and to understand which tool is best for the job.
Tammy was born in Memphis TN and her birthday is October 12. She is the middle child with a younger brother and an older sister. She moved to Kansas City at the very young age of 9 with a very bright future ahead of her.
Tammy graduated from Ruskin High School in the class of 1988 and went to college at Central Missouri State. She finished off her college experience at DeVry. She has been married for twenty-one years with four wonderful children. She enjoys working with teens and is very intrigued by the MINDDRIVE program.
She hopes that she will be able to inspire everyone she comes in contact with to reach their full potential in whatever they decide to pursue. In her spare time, she likes to read, listen to music, come to MINDDRIVE, shop and cook.
Jon Cale was born in Miami Florida and moved to Kansas when he was in 3rd grade. He received a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Kansas and then went in to get a CLC "Certified Lighting Consultant" certification from the American Lighting Association. He build decorative custom lighting fixtures for residential and commercial buildings using every type of light source from gas light to Led light source. He also opened a lighting showroom called Green Light. You can see some of his work on Gothiclights.com
Andrew has been in the MINDDRIVE program for 7 years, he was one of the first students involved before the non-profit was formed and it was an after school program at one urban high school. Then, once MINDDRIVE became a stand-alone program, he continued. He keeps on coming back to MINDDRIVE because he loves to see how much MINDDRIVE has grown. He also loves meeting all the new students and mentors that come every year. "I don't want to miss what great thing MINDDRIVE will do" he says.
One of his biggest passions is building and working on computers. He has built 7 computers on the past 3 years, three were his own personal computers and the other four he built for the MINDDRVE team. He wants to share his understanding on computers with the MINDDRIVE student so that instead of them paying someone else to fix their computer, they could do it on their own. Not only is he teaching the MINDDRIVE students and mentors how to work on computers but also "no matter how hard thing get, you have to keep on trying" he says.
Catherine has a bachelor’s degree in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Duke University and a master’s and doctorate in the History of Art from Yale University. Her dissertation was on the 19th century New York interior decorating and furniture-manufacturing firm of Herter Brothers. Although Catherine is a generalist in the field of decorative arts, her specialization is in American and European decorative arts from 1850 to the present. Currently, she is working on an important ground-breaking exhibition of decorative arts made for display at international expositions and world’s fairs from 1851-1939. She has organized several small exhibitions from the permanent collection and an exhibition of work by the British product designer Michael Cross.
When Bob Garcia heard about MINDDRIVE from Steve, he felt he needed to be part of this great program. Bob always felt the need to work with young teens and inspire them to be as creative as possible. He enjoys spending his time painting oil canvases and volunteering in MIMDDRIVE . "There should be a MINDDRIVE program in every state" he said. He hopes to inspire teens to achieve their greatest potential and he plans to keep on volunteering in MINDDRIVE as much as possible. "I wouldn't want to miss the great things, this kids will do next" he said. He thanks MINDDRIVE for giving him the opportunity to be part of the program.
Tony Giordano has spent over 40 years as a chemist, formulating and testing polyester
resins and gel coats. In retirement that background has given him unique
skills, resulting in innovative fiberglass and composite parts. "Being a
"car guy" I still race for fun and enjoy sharing knowledge with others,
so Minddrive is a perfect fit for my time" he says. Some other hobbies he has are
wood turning things on a lathe. Things he and his wife share are traveling and playing duplicate bridge.
John is an Executive Creative Director at VML, a global advertising agency in Kansas City. He helped create Mind Drive’s 2013 Social Fuel Program and went on the trip to direct the videos where he fell in love with the program and the kids. This is his first year as a mentor where he hopes he can help inspire the kids as much as they inspire him.
Mark Irvin was fascinated by the enthusiastic teenagers he had seen on an invitation by Phil Kirk, to MINDDRIVE. Seeing these teenagers having so much passion for this program pulled him in to become one of our many mentors here at MINDDRIVE.
Mark was born and raised in Kansas City, MO; he graduated from Lincoln High Scholl and soon started to pursue the career of his dreams. He never let anything get in the way of his goals, he stayed contently on his ideas and became the proud owner of two great businesses.
He wishes to inspire students to never give up on the goals and to be determined on whatever they do. He believes having qualities like being a good listener, being influential, and being passionate can get you very far in life.
He is now married with two grown step kids and he would like to keep on inspiring teenagers to achieve their greatest potential.
Bio coming soon!
Xolani graduated from Spencer High school in Columbus, GA. After high school, Xolani went on to obtain his Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA in 1983. Then, he took another step and obtained his Master’s degree in business from Boston University in Boston, MA in 1993.
Then, Xolani took a step even further and earned his Master of Divinity degree in 2000 and his Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling in 2008, both from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.
Xolani is divorced and has one foster son named David, who is 19-years-old. Xolani is a Major in the U.S. Air Force, and his current job is a chaplain. He is on assignment with the U.S. Army at Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
His hobbies include reading, listening to music, traveling, spending time with friends, and studying Spanish.
Xolani started coming to MINDDRIVE because he wanted to do something for his community and he likes to work with teenagers.
Max Levitzke is a communications mentor at MINDDRIVE. He is a recent 2013 graduate of the University of Missouri where he studied environmental science and had a particular interest in electric vehicles. Max has a strong desire towards helping Earth achieve long-term sustainability through work in the field of renewable energy and conservation. During his summer internship at the Metropolitan Energy Center, he heard of the program from coworker and fellow mentor Oz Qureshi and knew he had to become involved.
In his free time, Max can be found following his childhood passion on the ice hockey rink, playing guitar and drums, riding his bike, running, cooking chili, listening to new music or reading a good book. He hopes to find a future at an organization or cause that stands up to climate change and fights for the longevity of future generations. Max is both honored and grateful to be involved with MINDDRIVE and talks about it to anyone who will listen!
Xavier Carlos Loya is a proud mentor of
MINDDRIVE. His co-worker Rick Wheaton turned him onto the program and for
that he says he is grateful. For the past 3 years he has been a professional sales
executive at 41 Action News. "I have the privilege of being my own boss
and helping local businesses grow" he says.
His Journalism degree was earned at the wonderful University of Kansas, also known as the cradle of Basketball. He had worked full time at Advance
Auto Parts during school and was very involved on campus. "I'm a KCK boy
from the South Argentine neighborhood where most of my family still
lives" he says. Cooking, fitness, KU Basketball, Chiefs football, manual labor,
friendship, road trips and my family are all passions of his. He looks
forward to helping MINDDRIVE however he can and thanks them for the
Jeff grew up in Kansas City and went to Shawnee Mission North high school and then attended Johnson County Junior College. His first job was at the Hollywood Ferrari dealership in Los Angles. While there for ten years he led the dealership IMSA racing team that ran a Ferrari powered Spice prototype race car. He then spent two years on an Indy car team and moved on to work at the Chicago Ferrari dealer, Lake Forest Ferrari. While there he oversaw the dealership work for customers participating in the Ferrari Challenge series. Between the years of 1995 to 2000 he worked with Motor Cars International in Springfield, Missouri primarily working on Lamborghini. The dealership was connected by ownership to the Lambo dealers in Dallas and Houston and he did work for those two dealers also. After two years came back to Kansas City to work at Aristocrat and then started his own business 2002 which he still operates.
He is the SCCA regional champion in the GT3 class, a class for production cars. He is restoring his own vintage Porsche CanAm car and he owns the very first Auto Research Formula Super V/Formula Atlantic. It was the first car designed by David Bruns who later became Swift, a manufacturer of formula and sports racing cars.
Jeff has a son named Jake that may know as much as his father about automobiles.
Sandra is one of our returning students from MINDDRIVE 2012-1013. She first heard about MINDDRIVE from her friend Luis Puentes, she then realized how valuable this program was, that she wanted to come back as one of our mentor. She graduated from DeLaSalle High School and is currently attending Penn Valley Community College. She plans to major in communications, “MINDDRIVE has inspire me try new thing, and do things I never thought I was good at” she said. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, and being a mentor in an awesome program like MINDDRIVE.
Oz has spent 7 years working with urban youth in Kansas City through the YouthBuild program, and is currently working to develop energy efficiency programming for the Metropolitan Energy Center. Prior to that, Oz built houses with his uncle and has over 10 years experience in home-building with an emphasis on sustainable design and energy efficiency. He has a bachelors degree in political science from Central Methodist University. Oz has a passion for working with youth and talent for teaching. During his time at YouthBuild, Oz helped youth from KC build and rehab over 20 affordable homes with youth including one passive solar designed home built entirely out of structural insulated panels.
Andy Ratkewicz comes to MINDDRIVE as a 1st year mentor with 35 years of structural engineering and restoration engineering experience. The structural design of new buildings combined with the investigation and restoration design of “old” buildings has provided in-depth knowledge of structural materials and their application of unique conditions.
Andy is married with three grown children. He’s an Army veteran of the Vietnam War era. Educational achievements include a B.A. in Mathematics, a B.S. in Architecture, and a Masters Degree in Architectural Engineering. He is a principle in the firm of Norton & Schmidt Consulting Engineers, LLC.
Michal became a mentor at MINDDRIVE because she missed working with high school students.
She went to Lyons Township in Chicago, IL for high school and there was only a "C" student . However, in college she became an excellent student. She has had her dream job as a Special Ed teacher for 16 years and is currently retired.
In her free time she is a jeweler/metal smith. She was wearing a very nice pair of earrings she made herself during the interview. Also, she has a knack for cooking. Her favorite food to cook is spaghetti and meatballs.
Richard Stephen Rees
Steve was raised in Kansas City and studied architecture at Kansas State University. He practiced architecture in Kansas City for 30 years prior to selling his architectural business in 2003. His architectural work included buildings, interior design and retail design. Some of his work includes a hospital in Bethlehem, on the West Bank, the Harry S. Truman State Office Building in Jefferson City, Missouri and the design and roll out of over 2,500 retail stores for Sprint, Nextel, Beauty Brands and Starbucks. After selling his practice he spent two years as a captain on a charter sailing vessel in the British Virgin Islands. His other interests include a longtime passion for automobiles. He has restored cars including a 1956 AC Bristol which he restored with his son. He raced cars for 20 years including a variety of types. He drove in the 1997 24 hour race at Daytona and drove in the 1986 and 1987 Mille Miglia, a 1,000 mile race in Italy.
Steve’s relationship with DeLaSalle started 8 years ago when he worked with the Pathways program to develop a mentoring connection for the students. In 2007 he began teaching a specialized class called Creative Studio and Entrepreneurial Studies, linking creativity and business. This “DeLaSalle Automotive Studio” is a continuation of the past two years of teaching. He is driven by the primary desire to inspire students to dream and want to learn so that they can achieve their dreams. He continues to develop mentoring connections to the school. The current project will pair an adult with each student, a continued mentoring emphasis.
Sam was born on June 28, 1975 in Austin, Texas and has 1 sister and 2 stepsisters. He is the youngest of the four. Sam attended Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa and graduated in 1993.
He has one daughter that is 9 years old and has been married to his wife Stephane for 2 years.
Sam attended college at the University Of Colorado and majored in Civil Engineering. He came to MINDDRIVE because he thinks it’s a great program and it teaches students to better use their skills and it offers a huge sense of accomplishment.
Sam is a great contributor to MINDDRIVE when he’s not working at Black Veatch, which is an Engineering company based in Kansas City. He’s been working on cars for about 15 years. He really enjoyed taking a canoe trip this summer from Kansas City to St. Louis. He said it took him about 4 days to get there. Overall Sam is a very great guy!
Dae Smith was born in Michigan, but grew up in Kansas City. She has a brother and a sister. She is also an auntie to her brother's baby, Dae Marie. She graduated from UMKC. Dae enjoys hanging out with her friends, reading, watching movies, shopping and playing with her cats. She dreams to work on a social campaign that she is really passionate about.
She joined MINDDRIVE because she heard about it from her parents and she thougth it sounded cool, so when asked if she wanted to join, she was excited about the opportunity. She gets inspired by people doing well, but also by people who do unique things; from activists to artists ~ there is a lot of inspiration to be found.
Bill Stalder, the middle child with 2 brothers, was born and raised in Lincoln Nebraska. Following in his parents’ footsteps he decided to attend the University of Nebraska. After graduation, he went on to work for Southern Industries in Kansas City, Missouri. He stated that he really enjoyed working for Southern Industries because it was his first job and he was allowed to do a lot of crazy things. Bill has two children that he loves very much.
Now, Bill works as a consultant. He really enjoys his job as a consultant because it is a challenge and it’s very different for each client. He is in MINDDRIVE because he wants to help his friend, Steve Rees, and all of the students involved. Bill has three hobbies including sports (Nebraska college football), hunting, and cooking. Bill uses his knowledge of business to better the students involved in MINDDRIVE.
Written By La’Shay White
Neil is a mentor who graduated from Western Washington State College. His hobbies include going to Lake Placid, making improvements on his cabin at the lake, fishing and hanging out with his German Sheperd, Joe.
He got involved with MINDDRIVE through Steve Rees. They first met in a men's group and choir at their church. He felt that he could offer his skills in the field of videography and photography to the program. He would one day hope to be an entrepreneur in the field he is currently in, film editing.
His greatest strength is empathy, or being able to understand someone else's feelings or struggles. Neil is inspired by his family and describes them as close-knit. His favorite African American icons are Muhammad Ali and Gordon Parks.
Michael Voccio has worked in the steel fabrication & erection industry for 30 years. He have worked in the Washington DC area; Baltimore, MD; Richmond,VA and Chattanooga, TN. He currently work for Schuff Steel in their Midwest Division as a Project Manager and is working on the solar light project.
Michael moved to Kansas City on Dec. 2013. When he found out about MINDDRIVE he knew it was a program that he wanted to get involved in. “The opportunity to work with young people has always been a passion of
Mine” Michael said. Through MINDDRIVE he gets the opportunity to mentor young people combining knowledge and hands on experience. At the same time he gets to earn and experience new things he has never done before.
Jennifer Wadella is a new MINDDRIVE mentor with a passion for
technology. Professionally she is a web developer at VML, but is heavily
invested in building the technology community _all throughout_ Kansas
City. She is the founder of Kansas City Women in Technology, a
non-profit aimed at growing the number of women in tech careers in
Kansas City, she runs CoderDojoKC, a free after-school program that
teaches kids to code, and sits on various boards and committees,
including the Shawnee Mission School District CTE advisory board and the
KC STEM Alliance's Girls in STEM committee.
Outside of work and philanthropy, Jennifer likes spending time with her
cats and dog, she enjoys cooking and gardening, and trains and competes in west coast swing dancing.
Bio coming soon!
Rick is passionate about teaching – loves to tell stories through the lens and by really telling you. His work at Channel 41 is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the life skills and experiences he brings to the table at MINDDRIVE.
“Focus with your feet!”, Rick said to Christana one day – light bulb goes off! He has many ways to describe how to make best use of the camera, both still and video, while teaching the technology of the equipment in a sly way. We are so grateful to have him as part of the MINDDRIVE family.
La'Shay is a 17-year old who currently attends Penn Valley Community College. She is the second oldest of 7 children and in her spare time she likes to read, write and cook. Her outgoing personality and ability to get along with others makes her company well appreciated.
Enjoying the comfort of the MINDDRIVE family, as a student, she decided to come back as a junior mentor to help encourage other students. Her siblings inspire her to be a good role model and to succeed in life. She loves helping others in need which is why she has decided she wants to become a Cardiac Surgeon.
Matt "Ziggy The Man" Ziegenhorn
He was born on November 6, 1993 in Kansas City, Missouri. When he went to high school he attended Rockhurst High School. He is currently attending Art Institute International in Kansas City, Missouri for graphic design. He is also a big contributor of MINDDRIVE for his graphic design knowledge. He has been apart of MINDDRIVE for a while and said that he grew up with Steve Rees’ son, the instructor of the Automotive Design Studio. He said that he loves to come here and he thinks it is a great benefit for the students and also the mentors. His hobbies are trying new foods and restaurants. He also said he is one of the youngest and handsome mentors at MINDDRIVE.
Marty Yurjevich and Jon Stuckey of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations have been valuable members of our team. They did theoretical and laboratory testing of various Firestone and Bridgestone tires to determine which offered the least amount of rolling resistance. Their research debunked the original plan to use motorcycle tires, which they also tested. The proper automobile tires roll with much less resistance than the smaller motorcycle tires, and the car is currently shod with Firestone Firehawk tires that were donated by company. Marty and Jon spent the better part of a day touring DeLaSalle and meeting with students. They presented their detailed research to the students in an after-school meeting and visited the shop where the car is being constructed. Marty and Jon also hosted the students and mentors at the IndyCar race at the Kansas Speedway.