The classes are taught by two teachers, approximately 35 mentors, one tutor, 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-two-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 and to hone their communication skills.
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 injection 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. He 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 traveling 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.
Jeff Belomy is an account manager with French Gerleman, an electrical automation parts supplier, and one of our new mentors at MINDDRIVE. He was born in Butler Missouri and attended Longview Metropolitan Community College for two years. He then decided to finish up college at Avila University, a local catholic college in Kansas City. He enjoys spending time with his wife, two boys, and also his two granddaughters. His hobbies include baseball, basketball, and scuba diving. He believes his specialty is being a great organizer.
He first heard about MINDDRIVE through one of his clients and friend, Walt Accurso (also a mentor). He has enjoyed being in MINDDRIVE, "It's a great feeling when you give your time and knowledge to teens around you" he says. He feels he can impart wisdom to the teens at MINDDRIVE and offer knowledge on any question they might have in terms of account management and beyond. "Sometimes I feel like I am the one getting inspired by the teens instead of it being the other way around" he says "I am completely speechless when I see these teens at work".
Nick Brown is one of our most uplifting and humorous mentors at MINDDRIVE, "I enjoy making people smile" he says. Nick is a 2014 graduate of the Ozark Technical School in Springdale Missouri. His areas of expertise include mechanical design and circuit board design. His strengths include critical thinking and being open to new ideas.
Since he was in high school he knew he had a big passion for cars and racing, so when he heard about MINDDRIVE he knew he had to get involved. Not only did his passion for cars make him become involved, but also his passion for getting youth involved with the manufacturing of cars! He wants to inspire teens to become involved in anything they're passionate about.
"Its never to early too start working on your future" he says. He also enjoys poetry. Two quotes he lives by are "Don't dwell on the short term", and "To achieve anything in this world you must dabble on the edge of disaster". He plans to continue in MINDDRIVE, making changes one student at a time.
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.
Doug Cade works as a registered nurse. He started his nursing carreer working at Menorah Medical Center. Then he had an opportunity to work at Bethany Medical Center in the Intensive Care Unit. When Bethany closed he worded at Shawnee Mission Medical Center and obtained specialized training in Hemodialysis.
He now works for a company called Mid-America Dialysis and has worked in dialysis for over ten years.
"My fun time consists of taking my dogs to the dog park. I have two wonderful dogs: "Lincoln", a black Bloodhound Mastiff who is a movie star, and "Juno", a Merle Great Dane" he says. Doug has also fostered and re-homed a few dogs this year.
In the past years he has rang bells for The Salvation Army's annual fundraising efforts. He has also volunteered for local charity events like "No More Homeless Pets", Heartland Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Christmas in October, Great Plains Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as well as now working as a mentor for MINDDRIVE.
Doug has always tried to live life to the fullest and firmly believes in being happy no matter what obstacles seem to be in your way.
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 continues to grow. "I don't want to miss what great things MINDDRIVE will do", he says.
One of his biggest passions is building and working on computers. He has built 10 computers in the past 3 years, three were his own personal computers and the other seven, he built for the MINDDRVE team. He wants to share his understanding of computers with the MINDDRIVE students so 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 says, "no matter how hard things get, you have to keep on trying" he says.
I grew up in Independence, MO and have a Bachelors in Electronic Engineering Technology and an MBA in Finance.
In my spare time I'm an avid runner, amateur musician and enjoy taking my dog for walks in the park.
I was first introduced to Minddrive by Walt Accurso but didn't become a mentor until meeting Linda and Steve in Brookside and agreeing to come check it out. I've been coming every Saturday since.
My favorite thing about Minddrive is watching the kids learn new things and gain confidence by accomplishing projects on their own.
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, these kids will do next" he said.
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.
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
live" 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
Dean Manion was born and raised in Kansas City and graduated from UMKC. He has been the owner of MTI Design company for 30 years, working on electronic and computer design. He enjoys building and designing cars.
He heard about MINNDRIVE through Steve Rees. They attended High School together. He has enjoyed MINDDRIVE so far and hopes to keep mentoring young teens. He feels that his past experience in electronics and project management can help him influence teens and help them in anything they would need. He hopes to inspire the students of MINDDRIVE go after anything they want and to help them realize anything is possible.
Carrie recently co-founded an educational nonprofit, The Lean Lab, after being a former 2nd grade teacher in Kansas City Public Schools for two years. A native of Denver, Colorado, she had experience working in nonprofits and newspaper/book publications. She graduated from Colorado College with a B.A. in English Literature before moving to Kansas City in 2012. Carrie is passionate about Kansas City, and after hearing about MINDDRIVE through the Mozilla Gigabit Fund, she was inspired to become involved and maintain a connection to students, especially after leaving the classroom. Other than working, Carrie is passionate about running and everything that keeps her mind and body active.
Paul Mikols is an individual with great knowledge to pass down to the students in MINDDRIVE. He graduated from the University of Urbana, Champaign in 2010 with a degree in electrical engineering. He thanks his teachers and football coaches for pushing him to the limits. He wishes to educate anyone who wants to learn more about lightweight cars.
When he is not mentoring at MINDDRIVE, you can see him cruising around town in his 3-wheeled "Twike", or learning new things. As his parents would say "everyone should work in groups and try to be a leader. You may have skills the whole team needs".
It took Max 10 years to finish his college degree but he majored in Business Information Systems and minored in Digital Media Arts (Graphic/Web Design). Max is originally from New Mexico where he attended the University of New Mexico. He then moved to Kansas City to be closer to his family where he finished his degree at DeVry.
Max has been in sales off and on for the last 13 years. He LOVES to bike ride (mountain and road cycling).
Max met Steve (MINDDRIVE’s founder) at CarMax where he sells cars. They shared the same passion, reaching the younger generation with a hope for the future.
“I believe every young person has the fuel to become great and accomplish many things in life. All they need is a spark by seeing their potential dream walked out by those who go before them.” Max says.
Mary and her husband Dave have lived 35 years in Northern VA. Mary
graduated from George Mason University and did graduate studies at
Mary was the director of the Alternative Education Center, she was also a High
School Counselor. She also did private practice as a therapist, taught schools and
was a juvenile probation officer.
Mary volunteered as a teacher in juvenile detention centers, VA Governor's
Welfare to Work, Christ House shelter, and served as a resource to the
Fairfax County Help line.
Young grew up in Colorado and attended college close to home, graduating in 2010. He moved to Kansas City a few months later through Teach for America to teach high school math in the inner city youth for two years. Although Young enjoys his current job as the accountant for a tech company in Overland Park, nothing could quite capture the thrill of opening up educational and vocational opportunities for our youth.
This itch to teach brought Young in contact with Linda after a series of e-mails. He is incredibly excited to be a part of an organization as cool and fast-growing as MINDDRIVE! The students love his approach to math and say that he makes it so they can understand the concepts much easier.
Audrey Navarro is Audrey's background is in commercial real estate and finance. She is a graduate of Rockhurst University, and holds a bachelor's degree in Education, along with an MBA. She lives in Shawnee with her husband, Carlos, and two children Hunter & Liliana. She is passionate about education, and enjoys volunteering at MINDDRIVE. Once a high school dropout herself, Audrey understands the impact programs like MINDDRIVE have in engaging students to achieve their true potential.
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 and came back as one of our junior mentors. She graduated from DeLaSalle High School and is currently attending Penn Valley Community College. She plans to major in communications, “MINDDRIVE has inspired me try new things, and to 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 has worked 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.
Mario Ramirez is a graduate from DeLaSalle high school. He is a 22 year old junior mentor at MINDDRIVE. He joined MINDDRIVE in 2010.
Mario is currently in the Skills With Money Class and hopes to learn new things. Mario likes to play basketball, drive around, and watch football. He also likes to watch comedy and action moves like Rush Hour.
Mario has five brothers and one sister. He is the second youngest. He likes to listen to is rock, rap, and a little bit of everything. His biggest fear is to lose his freedom or not being able to do whatever it is that he wants to do. Mario is working on getting his lawn weed controller license but wants to be a chef and own a Cuban food truck someday.
Andy Ratkewicz comes to MINDDRIVE 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. and a huge asset to the MINDDRIVE program.
Dae Smith was born in Michigan, but grew up in Kansas City. She has a brother and a sister and is an Auntie to her brother's baby, Dae Marie.
She graduated from UMKC and works for the non-profit, Head For the Cure, organizing 5K races around the country. 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 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.
Robert Sanders came to Kansas City in 1992, he worked ten years in Kirk Welding Supply and also worked in outside sales. Robert is also a past board member of the Welding Society. He is currently working at Airgas and has been there for about ten years.
He heard about MINDDRIVE through his father-in-law, the late Phil Kirk, one of MINDDRIVE’s biggest supporters. He is a proud father of two and also a big Royals fan.
Josh Solar is the Chief Love Spreader at Josh Solar Loves You. He is a Joy Seeker, a big dreamer and a family adventurer. Josh believes that the power of love can make this world an even more amazing place to live. He is a "Life Documentarian" at Solar Photography Studio.
You can find him and some of his work at...
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 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 grown 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' engagement in MINDDRIVE. Bill serves on the Executive Board.
Bill is a native Kansas Citian and a veteran of WWII and Korea. He attended KU, UMKC and K-State to earn master's degrees in Business Administration and Regional and Community Planning. He worked as a newspaper reporter, advertising manager, planning consultant and water resources planner. After twenty-five years of retirement he heard Steve Rees speak at a civic club meeting about what the MINDDRIVE program is doing for young Kansas Citians, and he wanted to be part of it. His favorite pastime is gardening.
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 has worked in the Washington DC area; Baltimore, MD; Richmond,VA and Chattanooga, TN. He currently works for Schuff Steel in their Midwest Division as a Project Manager and is working on the solar light project.
Michael moved to Kansas City in 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 learn and experience new things he has never done before.
Casey Yunger grew up in a farming community in Southwest Missouri and attended high school in Republic, MO. Casey received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri- Rolla. He has worked in the automotive and industrial industries as a Mechanical Engineer for about 20 years. In 2012 he even built his own electric car. He is now working as the chief engineer at GENESYS System Integrator in Kansas City MO. He is married and has two daughters. His hobbies are running, cars, and spending time with his family.
He was introduced to MINDDRIVE by another mentor, Jeff Bellomy and he felt he needed to learn more about this program. Since he enjoys working on cars he decided that becoming a mentor was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. He has been impressed by the talent at MINDDRIVE, "not only are the mentors talented but the students are also amazing. They truly have blown me away" he says.
Matt "Ziggy The Man" Ziegenhorn
He was born in November of 1993 in Kansas City, Missouri. When he went to high school he attended Rockhurst High School. He graduated from Art Institute International in Kansas City, Missouri for graphic design. He is a big contributor to MINDDRIVE, often donating his graphic design knowledge and expertise. He has been a part of MINDDRIVE for awhile and said that he grew up with Steve Rees’ son. 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 most 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 Ecopia tires that were donated by the company. Marty and Jon have spent numerous hours mentoring and teaching our students about the technology behind tire design.