Forward Together

So all families can thrive.

Guest Faculty


We are pleased to welcome master practitioners of aikido, storytelling, and music, Pietro Maida Sensei, Melanie DeMore, and Michael Balaoing, throughout the year to help us harness our full individual, organizational, and collective power.

Pietro Maida Sensei Pietro Maida Sensei

As a direct, personal student of Koichi Tohei Sensei since the early 70's and spending a number of years living in Japan, Maida Sensei is uniquely qualified to instruct Ki development and Ki-Aikido. In addition to his role as Ki Instructor for the Ki Research Institute, Maida sensei is presently the Chief Instructor of the Northern California Ki Society, is an authorized examiner representing Ki Society Headquarters in Japan and holds the rank of 7th dan. Maida sensei is a firm believer that Ki training is beneficial for daily life. He conducts trainings for parents, students, police, incarcerated inmates, attorneys, health professionals, athletes and others who want to change how they respond to stressful situations in life.

Melanie DeMore Melanie DeMore

Grammy nominated singer and song-writer. Born in the Bronx, raised in Anchorage, folks moved all five kids to San Antonio, finished school, got out of Texas, kinda got off on being the only Black folk singer in Taos, NM, then decided to get back into the mix, took all her stuff and moved to Oakland where she’s been for the last 21 years. (Actually Mel and Tracy C. had a good laugh one day in San Francisco where they finally met and realized folks had them mixed up all the time. They still do!) Every town Melanie traveled became her teacher and an opportunity to hone her craft as a songwriter, troubadour, and an emissary of tolerance, kindness, and harmony through the sound of her golden voice.

Michael Balaoing Michael Balaoing

Michael Balaoing, Esq. has devoted his life to social change as a 25-year veterans of strategic communications, leadership development, corporate responsibility, and global philanthropy. Today, Michael coaches people how to communicate – whether you’re a nonprofit advocate in Montana, a start-up CEO in Silicon Valley, a philanthropist in Manhattan, an actress in Hollywood, or a high school student in Nairobi. He is the founder of Candlelion LLC, former Senior Coach at Own The Room and past president of its parent company Blue Planet Training. He has personally trained over 10,000 people around the world. During his tenure, Own The Room has grown from a single coach to a world-class cadre of professional trainers fluent in 7 languages reaching 100 top businesses in 27 countries.