S2, E6: Difference Maker – Jeanne Betancourt

Jeanne Betancourt

Growing up, Jeanne Betancourt struggled to learn to read and write.  Her struggle to master those skills led her to hone in on the world around her, soaking up details. Years, later, Betancourt discovered a passion for making up stories and writing them down. Good thing. Betancourt parlayed her storytelling into a successful career as a children’s book author, a chapter in her life that she credits her dyslexia for authoring.

S2, E5: Difference Makers – Ulysses Owens Jr.

Ulysses Owens Jr - Soul Conversations

For Ulysses Owens Jr., the three Rs often was accompanied by a backbeat as he often passed time in class treating his desk as a drum kit. He was later diagnosed with ADHD, but the little drummer boy parlayed his BAR-RUMP-A-THUMP-THUMP into becoming the first African-American drummer admitted into The Juilliard School and later into a Grammy Award-winning jazz career.

S2, E4: Difference Maker – Meredith O’Connor

Meredith O'Connor

In 2013, as a 16-year-old, Meredith O’Connor stepped out from the shadows of bullying with the YouTube release of The Game, part music video, part therapy session that shared her personal experience and trauma. Since then, O’Connor, who has ADHD and OCD, spent years touring schools and sharing her experiences, while releasing charity songs to benefit mental health groups and hitting the high notes as a formidable advocate for anti-bullying and mental health.

S2, E3: Difference Maker – Garrett Graff

Garrett M Graff

In the late 60s, Virginia Slims announced to women, that “You’ve come a long way, baby.” The same could be said for Garrett Graff. Having been diagnosed with reading, writing, and speech challenges early on, Graff was slated for non-mainstreamed schooling by school officials. Fast forward, he went on to serve as editor of The Washingtonian and POLITICO. Most recently, he captured the heartbreak of 9/11 in his masterwork, “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11.” A long way, indeed.

S2, E2: Difference Maker – Mackenzie Thorpe

Mackenzie Thorpe

Mackenzie Thorpe creates art with heart. Actor Tom Hardy, author JK Rowling, and Queen Elizabeth II, to name a few, have collected the English artist’s sculptures and paintings, which combine tenderness and ardor through his unique depictions of animals and children. Yet, from early on, Thorpe endured having his heart torn apart by those whoRead More…

S1, E11: Difference Maker – Victor Villasenor

Victor Villasenor

Author Victor Villaseñor has written 65 stories and nine novels, and his memoir Burro Genius, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, shares his experiences as a youth. Not bad for someone who remembers school in his youth as a nightmare, which led to him becoming a bed wetter. That was coupled with years ofRead More…

S1, E9: Difference Maker – Dr. Temple Grandin

Dr Grandin Temple

Though not diagnosed with autism until adulthood, as a child Dr. Temple Grandin quickly learned that she processed things differently than her neurotypical classmates — only developing speech skills when she was nearly four years old. Drawn to STEM-related activities like electronics and rocketry, she was encouraged to pursue a career as a scientist by her peers and a former teacher and mentor.

S1, E7: Difference Maker – John Crossman

John Crossman

Meet nationally renowned real estate executive John Crossman, who learned later in life that the successful real estate career he built was constructed upon a foundation of dyslexia.

S1, E6: Difference Maker – Willard Wigan

Willard Wigan - micro sculptor

Willard Wigan is a micro sculptor, creator of the world smallest handmade micro art in history, who grew up with undiagnosed autism and dyslexia. In 2007, he was honored by Queen Elizabeth II with the distinction of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), the third highest ranking Order of the British Empire award, for his services to art. In 2018, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Warwick in recognition of the significant contributions he has made to art and sculpture. He also holds two Guinness World Records.