The Summa Team
Ba Luvmour, MA
Ask Ba how he became the fortunate man he is today, surrounded by an amazing family, partnered with a loving and inspiring woman, in active pursuit of his dream, and he’ll tell the truth: Self-reflection, spiritual inquiry, voracious reading, and a fair bit of luck.
When you hear the whole story. it is clear that he is on a journey. Today Ba is 3,000 miles from his New York up-bringing, but like every active and engaged life-traveler, he remains connected to each place, experience, and friend made along the way. Ba stays on his journey because he is an observer and reflective man, but to the benefit to everyone around him, he’s become a skilled guide for others on their journeys.
Ba has both huge vision, and the tenacity to build towards that vision one step at a time. Co-founder of Summa Institute and co-creator of Natural Learning Relationships, Ba has published five books, taught hundreds of parents and children, and led countless programs for families since 1985. Ba is an adjunct faculty member at the Portland State University.
Josette Luvmour, PhD
Family and Professional Development Director
Josette will walk in your shoes. She’ll do this without question or reservation, because she is a person who believes that your perspective is not only unique but uniquely valuable. There is a story in the book Optimal Parenting where Josette describes climbing a tree to talk with a child. She did this for many reasons but here’s the big one: The world looks different from up in a tree. It looks different to the child in that tree. She climbed that tree because she believes in seeing through the eyes and feeling through the hearts of others. Now, imagine how comfortable that makes people feel—how much more open it might make them feel— and then consider the positive effect that Josette is able to have on people’s lives.
Co-founder of Summa Institute and co-creator of Natural Learning Relationships, Josette has published five books, and developed hundreds of experiential learning programs for families and children since 1985. Josette teaches undergraduate and continuing education courses as an adjunct faculty member.
Amber Kara, BS (with daughter, Ruby)
Amber is both an observer and practitioner of interconnectedness. She sees how small things are connected to bigger things, how no action or interaction happens without reaction. As a marine biologist in a small Zodiac floating among a pod of Pilot whales, she realized you cannot study something and not influence it in some way. As a quilter, she can focus intensely on a single piece of fabric for hours—all the while knowing how it affects the larger design.
Talk with Amber and she looks you in the eye in way that makes you feel like she hears and feels every word. When you’re done, she’ll connect what you just said to something that magnifies the power of your own words and feelings in an enlightening way. She guides by connecting people, things, events, action and reaction. Like her father Ba, she is a guide.
During her 17 years with Summa, Amber has taught Natural Learning Relationships to hundreds of parents, led dozens of school groups in ropes course experiences, brought children from the inner city to the outdoors, and planned and executed Summa’s programs for families, Teachers, and children. Amber now serves children, families and professionals as Summa’s Executive Director.
Albee Kara, BA (with daughter, Naomi)
Chief Operating Officer
Albee is a seeker. As a younger man he’d been filled with the notion that there were specific answers, and specific outcomes, to specific questions and problems: Things could be neat, sums could be figured, the order of things stacked together, answers revealed. He dove into physics in college and worked through the material: quantum mechanics, relativity, duality.
At the end of his sophomore year, he realized that in physics, depending on how you thought about it, everything is either a particle or a wave. An epiphany, perhaps—but not the real one for Albee. Like all true seekers, Albee examined the original questions he’s been asking himself – and discovered that he cared more about the meaning of existence, then he did about figuring out its mechanics.
And so, with a new question, renewed focus, but fewer expectations about outcomes, Albee began to study, self-reflect, and to seek again. And then he discovered NLR, and a brand-new journey began. Ironically, Albee’s studies and self-reflection have made him a trove of potential answers. But he knows how important the questions are. Work with him, and he will help you to start there.
Albee has worked at Summa for 15 years as a program co-designer and facilitator, leading groups of families, children, and professionals through experiential learning programming.
Ben Graves, MAT
Speak to Ben and watch his face light up with the excitement of a new relationship. He enjoys the opportunity to discover how people see the world. As a counselor to military youth in Germany, Ben uncovered his passion for helping youth reach their full potential. From his mother, a lifelong educator, Ben learned that all children need to be heard, and as adults, we need to listen.
Ben went on to Lewis and Clark College’s School of Education where he received a master’s degree in teaching. Ben wanted a career where he could have an impact in people’s lives. As a brand new teacher, Ben learned the value of relationships and their significance in his professional and personal life. But teaching was not his true calling, so he went to work for a local non-profit, Friends of the Children, where he witnessed the power of establishing long term, caring relationships.
Ben was drawn to work with Summa by the intelligent group of professionals focused on the development of the whole child and by the commitment to building strong relationships. Ben comes to Summa with twelve years of experience in education, human service and marketing. He and his wife, Rose, and their daughter Ruby are excited to begin this new journey with the Summa Institute.