Early on in her career, Christine worked in the for-profit industry, primarily in positions related to accounting and business. After four years of being involved in a program with Mark (her co-author) and his partners from Partners Institute (Partners In Prevention), she made the decision to go back to school. After receiving her Masters in Social Work she worked in Child Protection with parents who were involved in the system, helping them learn how to reduce the risk to their children. She concurrently worked for four years as an Adjunct Professor in Social Work. For the next three years she worked as a curriculum developer and trainer for Child Welfare workers. She assisted in developing a curriculum on the topic of the effects of trauma on child brain development and trained social workers throughout the state. After fifteen years in Child Protection she resigned her position. She worked for a non-profit organization for two years that provided support and services for survivors of domestic violence and their children. She has continually dedicated her time and effort to serving children and families who are faced with profound challenges everyday. In her own way, she has made a difference in the lives of children, one child at a time. Christine has an adult daughter. She is winding down her professional career and would like to become a full-time writer.
For almost 40 years, Mark’s professional career has been one of dedication to the adolescent population. He taught high school English and Humanities and was a coach and fine arts director for eight years before making a career change to adolescent and family chemical dependency counseling. He was a treatment therapist for eight years and during that time also worked as a prevention specialist in several school districts. In his capacity as an addictions counselor, Mark established a family education program at a treatment center and was its principal instructor for five years. Mark has served as a consultant for several peer-helper training and chemical abuse prevention programs and has been the director of the non-profit Partner’s Institute since 1989. Mark has also taught and counseled in alternative education for a dozen years and as an adjunct professor has taught a class on drugs and alcohol at St. Olaf College for the past twenty years. He has addressed thousands of people in workshops and seminars for students, teachers, parents, and professionals across the Upper Midwest and in Canada, and has worked in confidential small group situations with many hundreds of adolescents and adults. He is intimately familiar with the struggles of families and individuals and carries an abiding hope and respect for the ability of the young to survive and eventually thrive. He is the proud father of a son and a daughter and the grandfather of three boys. Currently semi-retired, he enjoys golf, photography, woodworking, watching soccer and movies, and is an avid reader.
(Written by Christine)
In 1986 when my life was at a crossroads, I met Mark through an outreach prevention program called Partners In Prevention. He and his partners were instrumental in the turn my life eventually took. The people I met and the support I received from those involved in Partners provided me with the foundation I needed in order to work through the unresolved issues from my past. After surviving that initial process of confronting, dealing with, and healing from those issues, I felt like I wanted to give back. After receiving my masters and working for several years as a Child Protection Social Worker, I started to think of how I wanted to give back. The idea of writing a book seemed to be the option that most appealed to me. The characters and plot of the book began formulating in my mind and, in 1999 I finally sat down at my computer and started writing the book. I drew my inspiration from my own story, my education, and my professional experiences. I didn’t realize how cathartic the experience would be for me. I knew I was on the right track and that it was important for me to finish the book. However, I hit a wall. Although I could envision all of the characters and the storyline, I didn’t feel that I could do the project alone. I approached my very dear friend and writer, Mark. After I explained the book to him, he said he thought it was a great story with an important theme and terrific ending. He, too, brought his own perspective to the story and, between us, we were able to write a powerful narrative of human struggle.
Mark tells me that he feels lucky to have been involved in writing this book. “While I do believe that my contributions have not been minor,” Mark says, “I recognize that they are only contributions and that the essence of the book existed before I ever become involved.” I say that I could not have finished the book without Mark. He has been a true friend and has been my support and inspiration both in writing this book and in life.