An Interview with our Executive Director

Q & A with our Ex. Director

Ron Rowland

First off, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to respond to your questions.

How did you get involved in macrobiotics?

I first heard about macrobiotics in early 1971 while in a school in Kansas City, MO. There was a young man there who literally only ate brown rice and seaweed and I remembered this because he had lost over 100 pounds in weight. I did some light research then and throughout the years, but did not fully comprehend the various sea vegetables and food names. I had adopted a more healthy way of eating, especially with brown rice and vegetables, but still had some meat and dairy in my diet. A year or so after I retired, I decided to acquire some culinary skills only for healthy foods and came back across the Kushi website which I had found and researched many years previously. I am now at the age most of my family was when diagnosed with terminal cancer. The combination of finally learning about macrobiotics in details and the success stories of macrobiotics with various cancers prompted my arrival.

Why did you decide to return to the Kushi Institute?

I had been traveling around the country looking to find a great location to retire and set up a home base before my next adventure. After completing my levels, I spent a couple of months in North Carolina, Texas and ended up returning to Georgia after a 45 year absence where I rented a small place near my last family member as a home base. I decided that I wanted to learn more about macrobiotics and be around like-minded individuals, so I offered to volunteer here in the kitchen or office. A position as Property Manager was offered and accepted. When the previous Finance Manager suddenly left, I was asked to take over this position. During Summer Conference, I met the board members and by the end of the conference was asked if I would also take on this role.

What are your short-term goals for the Institute?

The Institute has a great opportunity to be a more self-sufficient and self-sustaining operation. To understand the business side, we have to eliminate wasted efforts, services and costs to actually understand what it takes to function as an efficient productive entity. By understanding the various work processes currently being utilized, we can review any gaps, omissions or redundancies in the normal operations. This work is currently in progress and may lead us into a slightly different organization when finally completed. We have instituted a new management team who has been empowered with appropriate authorities to coincide with additional responsibilities and expectations to run their department. We will continue making numerous changes in the various departments over the next few months.

What kind of changes are you talking about?

There will be changes in the marketing department in what we do and how we implement them. There should be noticeable changes taking place over the next few months in our website and newsletters. New initiatives for the local, national and international markets are being developed and reviewed. We want to maintain our contact with the macrobiotic community and try to attract a younger generation to the community at large. We are looking into changes in our meal preparations and food sources to align with the original visions of Michio and Aveline. We are also making changes with our program content.

What will be different in the future programs than what is currently taught?

Two of our most senior faculty, Alex Jack and Ed Esko, are continuing on in a capacity where they can utilize their greatest strengths. They have a long history with macrobiotics, this institute and the community as a whole. We are very pleased that they are willing to focus on these strengths in teaching and counseling. We will have clear objectives to each of our programs, utilize up-to-date research, provide seasonal recipes, work with local organic farmers and enhance the student experience in applying the principles taught of our vision for a sustainable future.

What are your long-term goals for the Institute?

I was offered this position to free up Alex and Ed to leverage their strengths and analyze the entire business to ensure a solid footing. This includes work processes, information flow, development of business tools and development of a new team to lead this Institute for years to come. We will have sound business practices with new metrics for analyzing our success. The board is now sourcing a long-term leader from the international community with a 10-15 year commitment to lead the Institute many years into the future. My primary goal would be to have a highly efficient organization operating very smoothly to provide the new Leadership a very dependable and skilled staff to allow them to really focus on the next evolution. Each new member of the management team should be able to provide extensive detail in how their departments are functioning and how to continue to improve beyond everything we implement in the near term. The entire staff are developing new skills and learning how to become more proficient in performing their duties relative to a highly successful venture.

Is there anything else you wish to say?

We covered quite a bit here at a high level. The staff and volunteers are all working very hard and it has been my pleasure to be associated with the entire group of people here. There has been an obvious shift in how things are operating in the past 6 weeks and if the momentum continues we will be well on our way to achieving our goals. I am open to the staff and others to bring your thoughts and ideas to the table for serious consideration. Hopefully, we can get more of the community involved to hear their thoughts and suggestions. Thank you again for this opportunity.