Get to know me
Hi, I’m Mollie. A social psychologist, resilience researcher, author and former lawyer relentlessly dedicated to helping you thrive and strengthen others.
Born and raised an Iowa girl, I proudly call the Midwest home. On my first day of kindergarten, after taking one look at that dark haired, blue-eyed boy, I began singing, my “I’m going to marry Monte” song.
Twenty years later…I did. Another 31 years by his side, the best advice I have:
Support each other’s dreams to the greatest extent possible while staying true to yourself.
Family has played a central role in my life, from growing up 12th of 13 kids in a loving family to raising our three amazing kids and international exchange daughters.
There is no greater joy as a mother than to see our children move into their own lives with both deep roots and strong wings.
The daughter of an English teacher, I grew up a voracious learner encouraged to read and write. As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by humans, especially our potential to grow through challenges in ways that transform us. I also am a passionate justice seeker, doing my best to alleviate suffering and right perceived wrongs. These three threads explain a lot about my life path…
After witnessing a great injustice as a teenager, I decided to become a lawyer. I graduated college valedictorian, lived in Ireland for a year as a Rotary International Scholar, and attended Iowa Law School, where I was a Law Review editor and graduated with high distinction.
I started my legal career clerking for Judge Max Rosenn of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. I later wrote a ‘love story’ about this extraordinary servant leader, Walking with Justice: Uncommon Lessons from One of Life’s Greatest Mentors, which my friend Bob Burg calls “a timeless handbook for being human.” Love lives on.
When Iowa called us back home, I followed my fascination with humans through a Masters and Doctorate in Personality and Social Psychology, where I graduated top of my class, published journal articles, and was recognized as the most promising future researcher.
Still love to get my research geek on! Despite the alphabet soup behind my name, my greatest breakthroughs come as much from what I unlearn, as what I learn. Stay curious and keep an open mind.
As a social psychologist, I taught at university, directed a survey research institute and stepped deeply into performance psychology for over a decade, coaching competitive athletes up to Olympic and world levels. My consulting expanded to corporate athletes, and I co-authored a couple of business books, including The 12 Factors of Business Success.
Being a psychologist gives me a front-row seat to the damage done when our basic human needs to feel safe, belong, contribute and grow are not met. It broke my heart to see our community tragically lose three teens to suicide with many more children at risk.
I committed to volunteer full-time for one year to stop the loss of young lives and found a local community resilience project. As more communities reached out for help and we recognized the vast unmet needs across the country, we established the nonprofit National Resilience Institute with a mission of providing research-based tools to support post-crisis communities and youth builders. This work expanded with programming for first responders, military communities and workplaces.
Through the impact of hosting an annual Resilience Summit, international research symposiums, the Resiliency Matters television show and widespread adaptation of the THRIVE Resilience Model™ that I developed, the institute grew into a global collaboration called Worldmaker. Together, we continue our humanitarian mission to equip people in their own community and organizations to be able to help others prepare for, adapt to and grow through adversity.
Every person has a unique voice, and it’s best found through service to others. Having trouble finding your place in the world? Ask what breaks your heart…and then take a step toward doing something about it.
Really, take that first step. Then sense your next best step. And next best step. Sense, respond…and keep on walking forward in service to others. As my life shows, you just never know where this will take you.
I’ve been a quote junkie since my Mom shared this gem by Erma Bombeck with me as a little girl: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” A current favorite by Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.”
No matter what religion you do or don’t practice, any path to wholeness nourishes mind, body, and spirit. The research supports this. Just as important to me are personal moments of transcendence, from ushering a new life to earth as a doula, to being with my dad in his last days of life to riding an elephant bareback as he fed on the Thai forest and cooled himself in a mud bath.
A whole life is a joy-filled life. Find what lights you up and do more of it.
Today, I am wholeheartedly grateful to be doing work I love while distilling lessons from my most recent great life teacher…a successful battle with cancer. Early detection saves lives. Join me in relentlessly calling out any voice that tries to masquerade wise self-care as selfishness. It is not.
If you’re still reading, thank you. I hope that this introduction starts a conversation, and I want to learn more about you. The best way to stay connected is to join our THRIVE community.
It gives me great joy to share research and resources to help you thrive and grow strength in others. From stories of home to those from other cultures through our humanitarian work, I share the desire to help you on your life journey.
Let Maya Angelou’s wisdom inspire our lives…
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”
So grateful we’re connected and I am looking forward to our journey ahead.