Developing Mavericks with Aligned Learning


Aligned Learning is built around developing mavericks: people who care for themselves, courageously build aligned lives, find a way to do good work, and provide a benefit to society. The global learning concierge service encompass wellness, esteem and cognitive building, with the goal of attaining alignment in life, also known as self-actualization. Using Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation model, the program determines the services each client needs most as they evolve towards their full potential. Aligned Learning has learning strategists who do whatever it takes so youth and adults can become the best they can be. 


CEO Suzanne Lettrick brings a rich background to her work. She worked as a journalist, assisted Smithsonian folklorists with their research-to-schools program, worked as a private enrichment educator for Steve Jobs’ family in the late ’90s, and founded the nonprofit company GLEAN, through which she developed over 20 research expeditions for teens to explore remote regions of the world. In 2010, Lettrick studied neuroscience and psychology at Harvard University's Mind, Brain and Education program in order to incorporate the science of learning into her process. Since returning to the Bay Area in 2012, she has incorporated her experiences regarding humans and learning, and built the Aligned Learning model with her team.



How did you first become interested in working to inspire people to reach their full potential?

I fell into the work of building aligned lives out of my love for learning and exploring, and when I noticed the effect my own experiences in the real world had on my personal growth. I was also very interested in learning from inspiring people, such as explorers and artists, when I was a kid. To me, exposure is king. Young people learn so much about what is possible and about other ways of being when exposed to new things. 


How long you have been using your work as a way to create positive social impact?

I have been interested in creating a positive social impact since I started my first learning program in Berkeley. The 1996 program was called Kids Studying Eurasian Nomad. My mentor at the time, archaeologist Jeanine Davis Kimball, supported my efforts and believed in my desire to create a global research program. We raised funds for teens from all walks of life to study nomadic cultures and explore issues they were curious about in remote and beautiful parts of the world. Travel to remote places helped awaken in them new ways of viewing life and new ways of orchestrating their own lives. It was a powerful lesson.  


How did you become interested in getting involved in helping causes for social impact?

I am supremely grateful for what I call the poetic human experience. I love life, and I feel that learning in all its ways has the power to help each of us become our best self. Since I know what it feels like to be a joyful learner and lover of life, and since learning through my journey has helped me create a life I love, I wanted to provide services to help others find their most aligned path.



What causes are you most passionate about supporting and what are the kinds of issues they tackle?

The causes I champion involve empowering people to own their lives and to recognize that their presence matters. Organizations I am currently supporting dovetail with my own company’s vision to help people birth their own inner "maverick." In addition to my own company, I am also currently excited to champion the work of organizations and companies such as Community Heroes whose mission is to build compassionate leaders for the future. I also support the Marin Youth Court where youth act as mentors to their own peers in the court system. I am also continuing to support GLEAN Expeditions as we bring more teens to remote places like Kyrgyzstan. Luminous4D and MarinXR are companies with a vision of promoting the future of learning through virtual and augmented reality. I’m interested in where we have come as humans and where we are heading.


Do you have any stories about how your work has had positive impact?

There was a 15-year-old we worked with in East Palo Alto. He wanted to know what it meant to “be a man,” since he had no strong male role models and he was the only man in his home of three sisters and his mom. So, we placed him in the home of a reindeer herder shaman in Mongolia for 10 days. After his solo experience with the herder and his family living in their traditional nomadic teepee, he was able to interview the man with a translator we provided. He asked this shaman father what it means to be a man. The shaman said: “A man does not allow bad energy to go into the teepee.” He learned from his shaman father that summer that men (and women) must monitor the quality of the energy of the home. Everyone’s presence matters and we are in charge of the energy we bring into a space. This young man was able to bring this wisdom back to his East Palo Alto home and become the man that he was hoping to become.


Is there anything else you want to share?

I love to collaborate, especially when it comes to helping people find ways to self-actualize, create aligned lives, and do good work on the planet. Here at Aligned Learning we hope to hear from more people if they would like to take part in our vision in Marin County and beyond.