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Converlation™

The exchange of thoughts, ideas, and feelings that build and strengthen relationships.

 

 

Our Team

Our team is passionate about making a difference for families.

John Schwind,

CEO

Solution driven entrepreneur with a successful track record of 40 years in technology and product development, focused on interpersonal connections.

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Kathy Van Benthuysen,

Director of Curriculum

Retired teacher focused on helping people communicate and connect with others, despite the influences of technology distracting us.

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Stephanie Lomas Cruz

Principal of Calvary Academy, a PreK- 12 grade NJ Christian private school, has served as a passionate administrator and educator for over 25 years.

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John G. LaMacchia,

CTO
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Meghan DeVito,

Director of Social Media
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Michele Martin

Director of Customer Relations
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Addie Goodwin-Evans

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Darren Goodwin-Evans

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Brooke Van Benthuysen

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Shalon Ironroad

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Meet the Board of Advisors

Our business partners, also passionate about the difference Converlation™ makes in the lives of schools and families.

Dan Simon

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Dr. Lisa Gleason

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Jill Dobrowansky

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Mark Schanck

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Dr. Michael Mitchell

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Our Story

At Converlation™, we noticed what everyone else was noticing--people everywhere, heads down, on devices, not engaged with those around them.  Life is all about relationships: with family, with friends, with co-workers, with the cashier at the food store, and even with that person in line at the coffee shop. We want to help people get back to making connections with real world people, not on devices, looking others in the eye, and asking about their day.  And that starts by getting our heads out of our devices and having conversations.  Whether you are a school, a scout group, a church, or just a regular person, we can help.

We started out helping seniors learn how to use their cell phones, their devices.  Next, hearing the parents of teens who wanted to know what their kids were doing on devices, we went down the path of installing hardware and software to help monitor usage.  Both were a challenge as each group struggled with implementing changes.  We realized that to effect change, we needed to reach the kids when they were younger and hadn’t had so much technology controlling their lives.  Converlation was born out of a passion and desire to help kids (and adults) reduce the influence of screens, of technology on their lives. The result of going through Converlation is a raised level of awareness about technology that leads to richer and deeper conversations and strengthened relationships. 

It is not just cell phones that are the problem.  There is social media, endless videos, constant gaming, binge watching—all things that consume our time and attention.  It isn’t getting better, and technology isn’t going away.  Every time we turn around, there seems to be something else enticing us down the rabbit hole of technology obsession.  Through the years, Converlation has developed, using trial and error to find the path that will impact the most people.  There are no solutions out there, just tips and tricks, or the well-meaning, “just stop using technology.” Telling people to take “digital time-outs” or “social media vacations” just doesn’t work.

Since no one was aggregating the wonderful and informative content we uncovered about technology’s influence and effect on our lives … we did! Two websites were born out of a desire to house the articles and videos in a central location: DigitalCocaine.org and iFrenemy.com

To be clear, we never say that technology is bad, it is how we use it that impacts our lives.  By raising our awareness to the issues, we can learn to use technology as a tool and not merely entertainment. We provide a roadmap for people to have deeper and more meaningful conversations with those around them and to enrich their lives.  John’s 40 years of experience in technology and Kathy’s nearly 3 decades in the classroom gave them a front row seat to the changes in kids.  Instead of having conversations with people, kids are now on social media, endless videos, or constantly gaming to fulfill their social interaction needs.  This needs to change if we want the next generation to be empathetic, cooperative, and caring problem solvers who make wise and responsible decisions.
Standing on the sidelines as our kids get further enticed by technology wasn’t an option. We have developed a solution where kids have guided conversations along a guided path with adults and kids alike. We developed a roadmap for those conversations to occur.

Getting to Know Our Team

John Schwind, CEO, is an entrepreneur with a successful track record of 40 years in technology and product development.  John is an innovative thinker, always looking to improve people’s lives.

Seeing outside influences like social media, constant gaming, and endless videos consuming people’s lives, John realized a solution was needed to help people bridge the gap and be present and connected with others.  After years of testing and focus groups, the solution was Converlation-a series of activities that provide a guided conversation along a guided path.

John is a husband and a father of two children. Originally from Buffalo, NY, he is a technology graduate of Purdue University, a certified flight instructor as well as a commercially licensed pilot, who enjoys surfing, sailing, being with family, and yes, some golf too.

Kathy Van Benthuysen, Director of Curriculum, was a teacher for nearly 30 years before retiring to follow another passion-helping people communicate and connect with others, despite the influences of technology distracting us.

Using her background in instructional design and having an in-depth understanding of kids, Kathy led the evolution of Converlation from inception to present day.  Years of testing and refinement based on feedback has resulted in something that engages people on a deeper level.

Kathy has a bachelors from Rider University and a postgraduate degree from Purdue University. Kathy thoroughly enjoys the beach with her family, working out, and is a competitive softball player as well as a coach.

Stephanie Lomas Cruz, currently the Principal of Calvary Academy, a PreK- 12 grade NJ Christian private school, has served as a passionate administrator and educator for over 25 years. She earned her Bachelor degree in Education from The College of New Jersey and her Masters degree in Educational Leadership from Cairn University. In her previous role as a classroom teacher, Stephanie not only set high academic expectations for her students, she fostered relationships and built community with her peers, school families, and students.

Stephanie has a deep love for people from all cultures and thoroughly enjoys learning about other customs. Stephanie is tri-lingual and speaks English, Spanish and Italian.  She enjoys spending time with family and friends and also plays the piano and leads worship services at her local church.

John G. LaMacchia, CTO, (also known as J-Macc) has more than 40 years of experience in both the private and government sector, most recently as Manager of Information Systems for a New Jersey State Agency, where he directed infrastructure design, systems administration, and relational database design. He has extensive business process re-engineering experience using LEAN principles, as well as a rich background in systems analysis and design.

J-Macc serves as the Converlation expert in all things technology from web design and coding, systems development, along with troubleshooting any issues technology related.

J-Macc is a father, avid sailor, and cryptocurrency enthusiast, who makes delectable culinary creations along with being the maker of the world’s best yeast risen Belgian waffles.

Meghan DeVito, Director of Social Media - is a skilled Empowerment & Life Strategist Coach that teaches clients how to starve distractions and build boundaries in homelife and business. She has over 20 years of leadership experience and has a passion to help clients establish a strong family foundation and break generational cycles. Meghan is known as an “encourager” by her clients. She is fulfilled most when her clients have breakthroughs and life changing results.

Meghan is a wife and a homeschooling mom to two high school aged students. She loves serving at her church, going to the beach, reading, and cooking comfort food. When Meghan is not working with clients, she loves taking road trips to the mountains where she unplugs with her family and makes memories!

Michele Martin, Director of Customer Relations - Michele worked as an Executive Administrative Assistant for more than 30 years before coming to Converlation. Michele is adept at coordinating logistics of multiple projects and keeping all documents and communications in order. She can do it all, from handling appointments and setting up meetings, to managing databases and creating spreadsheets. And she does it all with a smile on her face. Her vast organizational skills and her special ability to connect with others makes her a perfect fit as Director of Customer Relations at Converlation. Michele’s free time activities include hiking, going to the gym, exploring new places and learning about the history, community outreach, and spending time with her 2 grandsons.

Brooke Van Benthuysen is Converlation’s resident editor of the written word as well as all things video and audio.  Her keen eye and mind ensure all deliverables are top notch.  Brooke, being part of Gen Z, brings a welcome perspective to the Boomers and Gen X at Converlation. 

Brooke has matriculated to the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.  Her major is in physics, with a minor in computer science, with the goal of completing post graduate doctoral work. 

In her spare time, Brooke loves painting, writing stories, and coding.

Shalon Ironroad is nicknamed a “Human Swiss Army Knife” when it comes to online learning, bringing 15 years of experience to the team in her role as the online learning platform specialist.

She is passionate about the healthy use of technology to provide education for personal growth and connection, and founded her web development firm, Elegant Geekery, to support mission-driven online learning companies.

When Shalon isn’t working, she enjoys spending time writing, singing, learning new recipes with her kids, and enjoying the beautiful scenery of Northern Virginia.

Addie Goodwin-Evans, an accomplished graphic designer, is the founder and owner of My 2 Cents Design, a company specializing in graphic design, print design, branding, and website development. She was inspired to start My 2 Cents Design believing her years of experience would benefit small to medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations with affordable, excellent quality designs.

Her rare blend of empathy, direction, and leadership enables her to identify her client’s goals and guide them through the design process to deliver an effective, custom design with a “wow factor” that they are proud to distribute to customers.

When Addie isn’t helping clients all over the U.S., she enjoys cycling, painting, traveling, exploring new restaurants, and meeting new people.

Darren Goodwin-Evans, has been self-employed for almost 20 years with a background involving wireless technology, web and logo design, graphic creation, and music production. He is passionate about cultivating an environment that rewards creativity and musical expression which is why he joined an independent radio station and has hosted his own independent-only electronic radio show since 2015. 

He has partnered with his wife Addie in their business My 2 Cents Design and has assisted her creatively over the last 6 years. He shares her passion for helping small to medium-sized businesses, and non-profit organizations stand out with ‘big business’ professional graphic designs.

When not busy with graphic arts projects or co-presenting the radio show with his wife Addie, Darren loves to explore new places with her, especially when cycling or during long walks. He also loves cooking, following/playing soccer, and playing golf or pool when the opportunity presents itself.

Dan Simon has been serving in educational leadership roles for nearly 30 years. After starting his career as a mathematics teacher, coach, and advisor, he rapidly ascended to school and district leadership roles, including 15 years as a High School Principal and Superintendent. Under Dan’s tenure as Principal of Monmouth County’s High Technology High School, the school rose to the #1 rank of US high schools (according to US News & World Report). Dan’s leadership and coaching style is grounded in Biblical principles that lay the foundation of his work. His outstanding communication skills and ability to create strong interpersonal relationships has been his greatest quality as a leader.

Dan enjoys outdoor activities like biking, camping, and hiking, but his greatest love is his wife. Dan is blessed to be a father of six and “Grandpa” to three.

Dr. Lisa Gleason is a passionate educational leader who is committed to the highest levels of academic excellence and radically innovative engagement. This includes Dr. Gleason’s development of the Monmouth County Curriculum Consortium, a network of more than 60 New Jersey districts that collaborate in the development and execution of high-quality curricular initiatives.

Her teaching career spans all grade bands from kindergarten through high school and her administrative career began a principal and director of curriculum. In Fall 2020, Dr. Gleason welcomed the extraordinary opportunity to join the New Jersey Department of Education as the Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Academics and Performance. Currently, Dr. Gleason is the superintendent of Lavallette School District. Dr. Gleason resides with her family in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. She is an avid reader, writer, gardener, and self-proclaimed “home chef.”

Jill Dobrowansky has 19 years’ experience as a public school administrator. She earned a Masters Degree in Teaching from Monmouth University then went on to receive a Masters Degree in School Administration from Georgian Court University. Over the years, Jill has demonstrated that fostering positive relationships among staff, students, and families can lead to high academic achievement and interpersonal skills that last a lifetime.

Jill is passionate about having a healthy lifestyle and helping others do the same. She is a self-published author of the book Faith & Fasting: Scripture & Plant-Based Recipes to Nourish Your Body & Soul and is also the creator and host of The Plant-Powered Pantry Podcast. Jill is a devoted wife and mother who loves to cook, run, hike, read, and work on home improvement projects.

Mark Schanck is a seasoned executive who has spent the past 30 years in the healthcare industry financial sector. His organizational leadership experience comprises the full scope of operational oversight, including finance, legal, information technology, human resources, sales, marketing, and customer service. Mark is currently enjoying a role as Chief Operations and Strategy Officer for a conglomerate of healthcare companies based in Red Bank, NJ.

Mark and his wife live in Manasquan, NJ. Their three adult children are all enjoying their varying stages of life, including continued education, marriage and starting families of their own. After enjoying several years of competing in various triathlons, Ironman races, and the 2019 NYC Marathon, Mark decided to take up surfing. Most mornings, you can find Mark at the beach in Manasquan before the sun rises, checking the surf.

Dr. Michael Mitchell has been serving public education for 25 years, beginning his career as the Japanese teacher for the New Providence School District where helped foster and create New Jersey’s first STEM and Cultural Exchange with a high school in Japan. His administrative career entails creating and running Hunterdon County’s EdTech Fest; a country wide professional development day on how to use and implement innovative technologies. He has helped build a partnership with Centenary University for students to take classes in their Social Media Marketing certificate program, built a Digital Badge credentialing system, and created a Design Thinking course. Currently, he is the Principal at Old Turnpike School, in Tewksbury NJ.

In his free time, Michael helps run NJECC’s monthly meetings and annual conference as a Trustee. He enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with his wife, three children, and two dogs.

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