Author’s new book motivates, fuels world’s ‘changemakers’

by Judith Kahn


Shelley Wood, a Richmond District resident, wants to make the world a better place, and

has set out to help leaders achieve their dreams by publishing a paperback book titled

“Changemaker Pocket Guide: Passion, Energy, Values & Vision.”


Author Shelley Wood works on a computer in her home office. Photo: John Oppenheimer

According to Wood, the most important thing for individuals who want to make the

world a better place is to really think about where they are working and why they are

there. In addition, she feels it is important for people to learn from both positive and

negative outcomes in their lives in order to be ultimately successful.


She believes people have the tools, knowledge and wisdom to make the world a better

place, and thus solve many of society’s collective problems.


In “Changemaker,” Wood constructs a collection of stories, tips, resources and exercises

to help leaders think about their roles and give them the tools to live with passion. Wood

stresses the importance for individuals to discover what they care about and to find a

regimen to expand their energy in that direction.


Wood, who is originally from Walsall, an industrial town in the West Midlands

of England, holds a master of science degree in international business and master

certificate in Strategic Change Leadership. She consults with various organizations,

including corporations, to support their leadership and visionary goals. She also provides

individual coaching for visionaries, leaders and dreamers to help them launch their

visions and build stronger, more resilient communities.


Wood feels lucky that most of the organizations she has worked or volunteered for have

been a “force for good” in one way or another. Currently, Wood is vice president of

membership and marketing for the Commonwealth Club of California. Its founder,

Edward F. Adam, wanted a club where people could debate issues of public concern. He

said many people leave school without the ability to hold conversations about ideas, and

once said: “We only propose to find the truth and turn it loose on the world.”


Wood enjoys working at the club and sees it as a positive institution, which promotes

civil dialogues. In her opinion, this is something that our world is in great need of today.


Wood also worked at the Exploratorium, as director of membership, for seven years. Its

founder, Frank Oppenheimer, created the Exploratorium as a community hands-on

museum dedicated to awareness. He said he “lived on the edge of chaos – a place

between order and disorder – in an environment that supported his need to create,

explore and play.”


Wood has always been interested in finding better ways to do things, and her parents

always encouraged her to do so. She loves museums and fondly remembers living in

Black County in England visiting living museums where one could go back in time and

see what it was like to live during the Industrial Revolution.


At 14, she had an opportunity to take an information technology class, her first

computer experience, where she worked on a project for the Willenhall Lock

Museum designing a log, feedback survey and advertisements.


As a child, she grew up reading books by Roald Dahl, the British novelist and

short story writer who rose to prominence in the 1940s. Dahl’s short stories are

known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental,

macabre, often darkly comic mood.


On one school trip, she remembers seeing kids in the street and drug addicts

and alcoholics sitting in the town center. She sensed this was wrong and something

should be done. Wood feels strongly that it is courageous and visionary individuals who

speak out and provide the ethical leadership  of organizations, and thereby offer a

better future for the institutions.


Patrick McKeever, who worked with Wood at the Exploratorium, said: “During

that time, her ability to bring together sometimes conflicting viewpoints and

guide topics on a forward path has evolved the membership and program to a

higher standard.”


Chelsea Murray Faraclas, director of membership at the Fine Arts Museums of

San Francisco, said Wood’s “level headed vision and cheerful demeanor allow her to

be a diplomatic team player and an influential decision maker.”


Wood said there have been, and are, many “changemakers” in the world, one

of whom is Elaine Mikels, who founded Conard House, the first halfway house in

San Francisco. Mikels learned the need for a normalizing transitional community

for people with mental illness who were returning to San Francisco from Napa

State Hospital.


By 1960, she had acquired a large Victorian property and created the Conard House,

which provides community-based resources for vulnerable adults living with serious

mental illness. Health navigators connect residents with primary care doctors,

pharmacists, dentists and ophthalmologists.


Another person was George Cadbury, who, with his brother, took over their father’s

chocolate and cocoa manufacturing business, Cadbury Brothers. He established

a Social Security program for employees and improved working conditions

in the late 1800s. He also built affordable housing and felt strongly that if every

man could have his own home, a large garden to cultivate and healthy surroundings,

that this would provide a better opportunity for a happy life.


Dr. Sylvia Earle, the legendary oceanographer, was also an inspiration to Wood. Earle

worked tirelessly to create a global network of marine protected areas

called Hope Spots, which are areas in the ocean recognized by scientists as having

unique ecological attributes.


Wood remarked that there are significant programs operating in San Francisco.

One is Soul Shoppe, which was founded by Vicki Abedesco. The organization

brings programs to schools to foster a “culture of compassion, connection and

curiosity.” Its goal is to eliminate bullying at its roots.


Other programs include Project Open Hand, which provides nutritious meals for

seniors and adults with disabilities, and the Golden Gate Village, a community-based

organization that offers its members a network of daily living programs while

also providing educational programs and ongoing health and wellness activities.


Shelley Wood’s book “Changemaker Pocket Guide: Passion, Energy, Values &

Vision” can be purchased at and retail stores. It is

also available as an e-book on kindle and ibook. For more informat ion, go to

Wood’s website at

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