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Meet The Authors

Phil Cousineau

Phil Cousineau is an author, editor, teacher, adventure travel leader, photographer, and documentary film maker. He began his writing career covering sports for the Detroit Free Press, while working at the Ford Factory at night, and began pursuing his passion about mythology, travel and adventure writing more than 25 years ago. Making a pilgrimage to California, Cousineau became a student of Joseph Campbell, whose famed teaching “Follow Your Bliss” Cousineau took to heart. In Phil’s own words, following your bliss is “pursuing your passion whatever it is as long as you create, and thus express yourself.” Among his many works, Cousineau is author of Stoking the Creative Fires, The Art of Pilgrimage, Once and Future Myths, Soul Journey, and The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work.

Julie Fisher-McGarry

Julie Fisher-McGarry, author of Be the Change You Want to See in the World, was once a personal fitness trainer to Saudi Arabian royalty, who now works to promote environmental issues in every way she can. A vegetarian for the past twenty years, she has fought against animal cruelty and promoted better human health. Fisher, a member of Greenpeace and PETA, has volunteered at her local pro-humane animal shelter for the last eight years. She firmly believes an awareness of ecology and a vegan way of life are paramount to Earth’s survival. She lives in England.

Lisa Hammond

Lisa Hammond is the founder and CEO of Femail Creations. She is a past recipient of the Small Business Person of the Year Award as well as the National Association of Women Business Owners Woman of Distinction Award for Woman Entrepreneur. She is the author of Dream Big, Stepping Stone Cards, and the Permission to Dream card deck. She lives in Las Vegas.

Addie Johnson

Addie Johnson, author of Life Is Sweet, grew up in Minnesota and San Francisco, went east to Vassar College, and stayed put in New York. She’s an actor and helps run Rising Phoenix Rep, a small developmental theatre company. She’s also an editor and writer, and this is her second book. She lives in Brooklyn with her family, who help her remember every day that life is sweet.

Dawna Markova

Dawna Markova, Ph.D., is internationally known for her groundbreaking work in helping people learn with passion and live on purpose. She is the CEO of Professional Thinking Partners, Inc., cofounder of the Worldwide Women’s Web, and former research affiliate of the Organizational Learning Center at MIT. Her books include I Will Not Die an Unlived Life, The Open Mind, and No Enemies Within; An Unused Intelligence, co-authored with her husband and business partner, Andy Bryner; and How Your Child Is Smart and Learning Unlimited, co-authored with Anne R. Powell. She lives in California.

Gail McMeekin

Gail McMeekin, M.S.W., author of The Power of Positive Choices, has more than twenty years of experience as a licensed psychotherapist, career coach, and human resources consultant. The owner of Creative Success, a career and creativity consulting company, McMeekin has produced a highly acclaimed workshop-on-audio called Positive Choices: From Stress to Serenity. A forum leader of America Online’s Gonyea Career Center, and member of the National Association of Female Executives, National Association of Social Workers, and International Women’s Writing Guild, she lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Hugh Prather

Hugh Prather, author of How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy, has conducted classes on relationships and parenting with his wife Gayle for over 20 years. A minister, lecturer, and counselor, Hugh Prather is best known for his 14 books — many of which were co-written with Gayle. Hugh’s weekly radio program, “Living in the Light,” a two-hour call-in show, is syndicated by WISDOM Radio. It features topics such as spiritual healing, spirituality in marriage, parenting, and everyday family life. Hugh, Gayle, and their two sons live in Tucson, Arizona, where they are resident ministers at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church.

Shelly Rachanow

My favorite quote in the world is Eleanor Roosevelt’s, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Ever since I was a little girl, my dream was to live by the beach in California (Mecca for someone with curly hair) and write books that make a difference in people’s lives. Somehow, I ended up as an attorney living in the South, and that was not a joyful career for me in any way! When a friend who was in his late 20’s passed away unexpectedly, I decided I didn’t want to waste another minute of my life living where I didn’t want to live, doing what I didn’t want to do. In late 2003, I said goodbye to panty hose and frizzy hair and yes to my West coast dream.

A few months after I moved out to California, I had the idea for my first book, If Women Ran the World, Sh*t Would Get Done: Celebrating all the wonderful, amazing, stupendous, inspiring, butt-kicking things women do. And while it’s true that the title came to me in a flash one morning when my ordinarily-supportive boyfriend refused to take out the trash (can anyone else relate), the real inspiration was my mom and the millions of women around the world who do so much for so many each and every day. My mom raised three kids (one with a disability who still requires daily care), worked outside the home, fought for better laws for the disabled, and still managed to cook dinner every night. She often says, “I don’t do anything amazing. I just do what needs to get done.” I think the real truth – for her and for all women – is that our ability to get so much done each and every day (often without complaint) is what makes women amazing in the first place.
In my first book, I asked the question, “What would you do if YOU ran the world?” and I received so many letters and emails from people with great answers and ideas. This sparked the idea and the title for my second book, What Would You Do If YOU Ran the World?: Everyday ideas from women who want to make the world a better place.
Helen Keller once said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” It is my hope that What Would You Do If YOU Ran the World? inspires people around the world to do the “something” they can do to make the world a better place…so that together we can make the kind of beautiful difference and create the kind of beautiful future everyone deserves!

Mary Anne Radmacher

Mary Anne Radmacher, author of Live Boldly and Lean Forward into Your Life, lives on Whidbey Island, Washington. For many years she lived in Salem, Oregon, where she ran a retail and wholesale business selling her art, posters, and cards. She continues that business. Radmacher also is a speaker and trainer for Participant Centered Results and does workshops on living a full, creative, balanced life. She creates one-of-a-kind posters using the words of President William Jefferson Clinton for the Clinton Museum store. Her words have inspired thousands to “Live with Intention” and “Live Each Day as If It Were On Purpose.” Her saying, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow,’” is cited in the 2006 Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations.

Michealene Cristini Risley

Michealene Cristini Risley, coauthor of This Is Not the Life I Ordered, is an entrepreneur who has created some of the largest deals in consumer products and entertainment industries. As an executive with twenty-plus years experience, Ms. Cristini Risley launched the first-ever branded maternity line in association with Adidas. As vice president of licensing and character development for Sega of America, she championed the Sega Girls’ Task Force. She has also produced, directed and funded a short film called Flashcards, which won Best Cinematography at the California Independent Film Festival, Best Short film at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, and the film screened at the Cannes Film Festival “Shorts Du Jour” program. The film is currently being distributed by American Public Television on PBS stations.

MJ Ryan

Best-selling author MJ Ryan is one of the creators of the Random Acts of Kindness series and the author of Attitudes of Gratitude, This Year I Will…, The Happiness Makeover (a 2005 Books for a Better Life nominee), The Power of Patience, Trusting Yourself, The Giving Heart, and 365 Health and Happiness Boosters, among other titles. She is the life coach columnist for Health magazine and has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, and hundreds of radio programs. She is a contributing editor to Good Housekeeping. Ryan resides in Northern California.

Michelle Sedas

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1977. When I was seven, I moved with my family to rural Keller, sixteen miles away. With a population of a little over 4,000 and only one traffic light, this was the kind of town where you could keep your front door unlocked (and most of the time we did.)

After graduating from high school, I went on to Texas A&M University. It was here that I met my future husband while playing on the racquetball team. You could say it was “love at first serve.” During my senior year, I studied international marketing and international management through a study abroad program in Spain. In 1999, after changing my major four times, I graduated with a B.A. in Business Finance.

After college, I spent a brief (and I do mean brief) period of time as a flight attendant for American Airlines. In fact, I spent longer in training than actually employed. On my last turbulent-filled flight, I promised I’ll quit and go back home if we can just land safely. The plane landed safely and I kept my promise.

A few months later, my husband and I were married and soon after, I began working in the financial services industry. I passed the Series 7 (“stockbroker license”) and Series 24 and realized that I enjoyed studying and taking the exams more than actually working. It wasn’t the right environment for my personality, and my husband was traveling a lot. So after a year, I quit this job, my husband and I put our belongings in storage, and we traveled wherever his company sent us. We were in a hotel in Portland, Oregon, when 9/11 happened. We were next relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, then to Chicago, and finally to Irvine, California. After a year of being “gypsies” and traveling all over the country, my husband and I settled back in the Dallas Fort Worth area (home).

In 2003, I started working part-time in customer service at, a publishing company. Eventually, I moved into editing and writing. Finally, everything was coming together and I felt that I was in the right environment.

As my career grew, so did our family. Our first child was born in 2004. Having a baby helped me to realize that I was stronger than I thought. When our son was thirteen months old, I competed in (and finished!) my first (and at this point only) triathlon. In 2006 our daughter was born. Our family is now complete.

Jackie Speier

Jackie Speier, coauthor of This Is Not the Life I Ordered, served in the California State Legislature for 18 years rising to the Assistant Pro Tem of the State Senate and Chair of Committees on Banking, Finance and Insurance and Government Oversight. Previously Speier served 6 years on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. She ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2006 and lost by 3% of the vote. She gained national attention in 1978 as legal counsel to Congressman Leo Ryan accompanying him on an ill-fated trip to Guyana to investigate Jim Jones and the People’s Temple.

Deborah Collins Stephens

Deborah Collins Stephens, coauthor of This Is Not the Life I Ordered, is the cofounder and managing partner of the Center for Innovative Leadership, which consults with leaders and organizations on improving customer service, creating inspired teams, and building the link between employee motivation and customer loyalty. Ms. Stephens is the author of six books, three of which have been best-sellers: Maslow on Management, One Size Fits One, and Revisiting the Human Side of Enterprise.

Jan Yanehiro

Jan Yanehiro, coauthor of This Is Not the Life I Ordered, has skydived with the Army’s Golden Knights and ventured up a frozen waterfall…all in the name of getting a good story! Jan pioneered the magazine format on television as co-host of Evening Magazine, a nightly program in San Francisco from 1976-90. Currently, Jan is the host of Everyday Angels on Comcast Cable TV and the Executive Producer of Pacific Fusion TV. Her latest documentary, Resettlement to Redress, examines the resettlement of Japanese Americans after WWII and the apology from the US government regarding internment. Married and mother of six, Jan has won multiple awards and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award. She holds seats on several boards including the Kristi Yamaguchi Always Dream Foundation and The Bank of Marin.