Ed Kiefer


Michigan, USA

Brainlighting: A Way To A Culture Of Gentleness

Ed is a registered Social Worker and Director of Training at Easterseals MORC in Michigan, USA. He began his journey as a Direct Support Professional in 1995, and in 2003 was introduced to Gentle Teaching and John McGee through his work at MORC as a Social Worker/Clinician. Ed’s transition from Social Worker to Senior Training Consultant took place in 2009 when the state of Michigan (Michigan Department of Community Health) sought to close the last publicly funded institution for those with intellectual disabilities. The inception of The Center for Positive Living Supports (a Division of MORC Inc.) was designed to create a “safety net” for all of those transitioning from the institution to the community. The heart of this plan involved extensive state-wide training and consultation with the goal of helping supporting agencies around the state create Cultures of Gentleness for those served.

Notably, Ed spearheaded the adaptation of training through digital formats including both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities. This has proven to increase access to meet the need of a changing landscape of training delivery. Ed has recently led the way for a new Learning Management System that offers a more robust and effective training experience for the Direct Support Professional workforce.

Currently, the training team is supporting over 4,000 Direct Support Professionals for their training needs. Ed has been involved with the Easterseals MORC Training Department since 2009 and transitioned from supervisor to Training Director in April 2023. Ed believes that the more effective mentoring, training, and tools we can offer to the organizations and those they support, the more likely the person served will experience the highest quality of care. On a personal note, Ed loves his family and likes playing his guitars, running, mountain biking and more recently over-the-fire cooking.

Program Description

For people to thrive in a Culture of Gentleness it requires leaders to promote emotional and psychological safety for all team members. Brainlighting is an idea-generating method created at Easterseals MORC that focuses on ensuring all team members feel safe with the people and the process involved. This engaging experience aligns with Gentle Teaching’s Central Purpose and is designed to bring a sense of connectedness, companionship, and community to your team while creating a productive space for innovation. This method can be used for any group or leader seeking solutions for challenges/crisis planning, reducing demands, strategic plan development or for things less daunting like what should we do for this year’s summer party? Among the benefits of this approach include honoring different perspectives, valuing team members, empowering team members, increasing positive interactions, opportunities for recognition, and creating a structure to attain goals. Strategies for turning ideas into results will also be discussed.  

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