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Brian Buckley standing overlooking the Colorado scenery of trees and mountains.There’s so much goodness in this conversation with Brian Buckley, Executive Director of The Southwest Native-American Foundation. From varied points of view, Brian focuses on the fullness of what it means to be human. From the practical to the sublime, he takes us along as he recounts his life story. As he talks about his life path and the wisdom he’s gained as a result of reflection and contemplation, it’s easy to sense the depth and vastness of Brian’s heart.

Consistent throughout this conversation is the sense that Brian was deeply impacted by his Irish immigrant roots. His grandparents emigrated to the United States. Raised in an Irish enclave in a Boston neighborhood, Brian shares his childhood experience of being in a clan of children of Irish immigrants. This theme recurs again when Brian shares a poem by Seamus Heaney. Brian had an opportunity to experience Buddhism and meditation when overseas as a volunteer for the Peace Corps. He speaks about the contrast in his experience between Buddhism and Irish Catholicism.

The Hoffman Process helped Brian discover the depth of his emotional self and the impact of his Irish-rooted emotional patterns. Brian speaks about both the spiritual and practical aspects of the Process. He shares about the nature of his Spiritual Self and also speaks about the practical nature of the gifts of the Hoffman Process. He came home with learning skills for day-to-day that he can bring to the dinner table, both literally and metaphorically.


Brian, the son of Cathy and Paul Buckley, was born in West Roxbury, MA. As a young child, he witnessed Boston tear itself apart over issues of race and equality. These themes would inform much of his later life. After attending the Roxbury Latin School and graduating from Harvard College with a degree in psychology, Brian began teaching social studies at Franklin K.Lane High School in Brooklyn.

Following his time teaching, Brian served in the United States Peace Corps in Udon Thani, Thailand.  Upon returning to the States, he instructed at Harvard University as a Teaching Fellow for Dr. Robert Coles’ course, The Literature of Social Reflection. Brian received the Derek Bok Award for Excellence in Teaching. He received an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an M.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts. Poetry informs much of his inner landscape.

Brian continues to teach as an elementary school special education teacher at a public Montessori school. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian founded the Barbara Henry Courage in Teaching Award to honor the work of Barbara Henry. Barbara was the only teacher to report to work to welcome and teach Ruby Bridges. Ruby, a six-year-old first-grade student of African-American descent, was the only child to come to school on the first day of de-segregation in 1960 New Orleans.

Fulfilling a Personal Call:

Brian served as a high school teacher and United States Peace Corps Fellow on the Navajo Nation. At the end of this time, he founded the Southwest Native-American Foundation (SWNAF). The Foundation assists students of the tribes of the Southwest in gaining greater access to higher education. As Executive Director of SWNAF, Brian, along with the SWNAF Board and Donors, has assisted in the matriculation of 500 students to college and graduate school. Learn more about The Southwest Native American Foundation here, and on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

As Mentioned in This Episode:

Ruby Bridges and Barbara Henry:
Read more about Ruby Bridges at RubyBridges.Foundation.

Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day:
Discover more about Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day.

United States Peace Corp:
The Peace Corps was started by President John F. Kennedy in the early sixties. The Peace Corps the opportunity to serve others through immersion in a community abroad. Working side by side with local leaders, they work on the most pressing challenges of these times Volunteers are sent to one of 88 countries.

Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run.

The poem Brian shares with us:
Watch Brian read the poem, A Kite for Michael and Christopher by Seamus Heaney, here.

The book Drew mentions:
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make us Whole, by Susan Cain.