338Stay-Focused is essentially a program that enhances and enriches the lives of teens and young adults with disabilities, using SCUBA diving as the vehicle for personal growth. Hence, leadership development has always been at the core of our agenda, starting with our first divers in 2004. The discussion of critical aspects of leadership (including self-reliance, responsibility for others, clarity of purpose, and leaving a legacy for those who come after us), has always been a standard part of the Stay-Focused curriculum.

In 2007, Stay-Focused created its mentorship program, rooted in the desire to make Stay-Focused a true learning organization, one that will develop its own future leaders. The mentorship program identifies Stay-Focused divers who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to the long-term success of the organization. Mentors assist first-time divers, support program administration, and play a critical peer-level role in spreading the word about Stay-Focused, including making use of social media platforms.

While it is expected mentors will move in and out of the organization at different times for different reasons, there are currently 11 Stay-Focused mentors: Emma Albert, Mary Kate Callahan, Matt Castagna, Ryan Chalmers, Sam Greenberg, Stephen Machak, Clint Mooney, Jill Moore, Ryan Neiswender, Arielle Rausin, and Brian Siemann.

Stay-Focused conducted its first formal leadership development program for mentors in 2011, with a week-long program of diving and workshops in Grand Cayman. To develop the program, founder Roger Muller and Board member Mark Nevins (an experienced leadership development consultant), leveraged best-in-class components of university and corporate leadership development classes and programs. A highlight of the program included use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), to deepen self-awareness, and enhance participants’ capabilities as leaders and team members.

In the summer of 2023, we were fortunate to have six Stay-Focused alumni assisting our divers. We welcomed back, Ryan Neiswender, and were happy to have Matt Castagna join us as a mentor for the first time.


Ryan and Lauren Neiswender


Matt Castagna

377In the summer of 2015, Board members Mark Nevins and John Hillen, continued to build on the theme of leadership development, by orchestrating four, 2 – 3 hour workshops for a group of six mentors, who were joined by Board members Gregg Chalmers, JenFu Cheng, and Trisha Yurochko, and founder Roger Muller. The group also dived together in the afternoons during the week-long program.

One of the major “take-aways” from the meeting, as voted on by the mentors, was the responsibility to create a “community” among Stay-Focused alumni, which is very important to the long-term success of the organization.

In 2018, four of our mentors (Clint Mooney, Arielle Rausin, Mary Kate Callahan, and Jill Moore) joined Ryan Chalmers in mentoring our divers.

In 2019, first-time mentors Stephen Machak and Emma Albert joined Ryan Chalmers, Arielle Rausin, and Clint Mooney in mentoring our divers.

In 2022, Sam Greenberg joined the second, first-time diver program as a mentor.