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Dr. Ramón Pastrano

Transforming Communities One Life at a Time

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Dr. Ramón Pastrano

Dr. Ramón Pastrano

With over 25 years of experience in leadership among many different cultures around the world, Ramón founded ImpactLives in 2003 to create a model of transformational leadership, service learning, social innovation and humanitarian works. His model is designed to teach and optimize service learning experiences, transformational leadership, development and global competencies, which leads to social innovation and produces sustainable humanitarian work. In other words, transforming communities - one life at a time. Ramón inspires and leads the ImpactLives’ team to achieve greatness, aspiring to the highest standards.

Ramón’s global experience is vast. He has lived in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and has traveled extensively for leadership engagement and humanitarian efforts throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, Jordan, India, Palestine, Africa, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Korea, China, Cambodia, Thailand and Japan.

As a graduate of the U.S. Naval Supply Corps School, Ramón served as a Commanding Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Briar Cliff University, and his Master of Arts in Theological studies from Bethel Seminary. Recently, Ramón received his Doctorate in Global Contextual Leadership from Bethel University and Seminary.

 Ramón’s vision and expertise is broad and includes: business development, strategic planning, organizational and transformational leadership, marketing and sales. Prior to creating ImpactLives, Ramón spent 15 years as a surgical consultant and medical device specialist. He has received recognition from Pfizer, Medtronic and Warner-Lambert, and is the recipient of the Doctor Act Award presented by TRANS4M Council for Research and Innovation in Switzerland. This award is given in recognition for outstanding achievement in Social Innovation. 

Ramón has a 5th Degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has been inducted into two Halls of Fame. Ramón enjoys family time in Maple Grove, Minnesota with his wife, Shelly, and sons Xavier and Kryston.

When I was 10 years old my family moved from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. During my early years in the DR, my family saw a lot of people struggling in extreme poverty. However, living in Puerto Rico from age 10 until I was 16 was better, because we had a bigger home and food. That was all I knew until I decide to move to the United States to attend college without knowing a word of English.

I had the culture shock of my life getting off the airplane in Iowa. What did I see? Cornfields – everywhere! I thought I was going to be moving to the most beautiful city in the world. I’d seen pictures of New York City skyscrapers and city lights – and that’s what I was expecting. However, what I got was much different. The acculturation process was also a challenge. Some students that came from farm families – can you believe that many had never seen a black person before? And many did not know how to act around immigrants. As a Latino, I am very proud of my heritage. Most importantly, I will always be grateful to those who mentored and educated me during those critical years.

After I graduated I became an American citizen and decided to thank my new country by serving in the US NAVY-R as a Naval officer. At the same time, I worked my way up the corporate ladder and experienced financial success well beyond my dreams as a small boy or the teenager learning English in Iowa. Then I woke up one day in the late 1990s – it was my “aha” moment that changed me from the inside. I was on a mission trip – experiencing (from the other side) what it was like to help others. And with no disrespect to the organizers—the trip was a total failure. Unbeknown to us, we were not helping people, we were only helping ourselves feel better – oblivious to the unintended consequences of our actions. Those that planned the trip had great intentions but sometime good intentions hurt. I felt sick. I knew it could be done better, but only if the entire approach shifted. Short-term mission or work of social justice has a purpose, but the same actions are rarely effective long-term. I knew helping people could be done in a way that was inclusive and sustainable. Now it was my time to give back. I was ready for all the changes that it could bring because the rewards went far deeper than anything money could buy.

Leadership identification and development is at the heart of ImpactLives’ efforts. Why? Because learning about yourself, about others, understanding your intrinsic motivation – and then using that knowledge to lead and influence  - this is an education that you will never forget after class is dismissed. It cannot be turned off or undone. Accompany that knowledge with works of social justice and critical reflection – and it seems incredibly silly and even absurd to take actions that are only transactional and serve only to feed the egos of those who paid money for a “make me feel good experience.” The theories and actions behind this are the heart and soul behind my doctoral work in Global Contextual Leadership. Everything in my life, including my experience as a small boy who wondered about poverty and where his next meal would come from – paved the way for a new level of insight and motivation for me to create transformational change. As Albert Einstein said, “Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.” That’s how ImpactLives was born.

Life is meant to be experienced with one’s open mind, open heart and intelligence of the will. Are you ready? Welcome to the journey!

Critical thinking is a hot topic. Corporate recruiters test for it. Job seekers boast of having it in spades. Why? Because people know it’s really hard to teach when it’s not approached properly. Traditional ways of learning don’t generally do the trick. Let’s break it down.

People who think critically (and consistently) are able to live rationally, make reasonable choices and have empathy to understand how actions affect others? They know that when left unchecked, the inherently flawed nature of human thinking leaves a lot of holes for unintended consequence to work their way in.

ImpactLives guides and teaches participants how to think differently. Critical thinking is great even in a vacuum – but critical reflection happens when people translate their thinking into their experiences and actions. Learning about ideas or theories in a book or by listening to a lecture – that’s a great first step. But apply that learning to an experience and it’s even better. Apply it to experiences where people are interacting and having relationships with others – helping others – this moves learning from one’s head to their heart. There is growing evidence that the identification of such methods, tools and experiences is essential for the development and preservation of healthy environments; environments from which catalysts for change can emerge. Suddenly there’s more motivation to do the right thing, and to not hurt people. To not “undo” the work that’s been done. The result? Participants intrinsically learn to WANT to think of the things that could go wrong, that could unintentionally happen, and that could cause problems.

This is why ImpactLives teaches participants root cause analysis and critical thinking as an essential part of our teaching curriculum. Critical reflection happens at all stages – before, during and after each project or experience. This is how the learning sticks. And how it becomes a sustainable way of thinking for the next time someone needs to address a new problem!