IWP supporters Scott and Lannette Turicchi lead nonstop lives – Scott serves as President at j2 Global, Inc, a company which offers cloud services for businesses, and Lannette is President at Falling Upwards Productions LLC. Between their jobs and their three children, Scott and Lannette find time to give back to their community.
After having served on the board of an institute of his alma mater, Claremont McKenna College, Scott is currently vice chair of the board of Thomas Aquinas College, and has served on this board since May 2007. Last year, he joined the school board at St. Monica’s Academy, a small private independent Catholic school. The school was founded 11 years ago by a group of families, and has 200 students from first grade to high school.
Scott has also become involved in another project called Catholic Textbooks – a nonprofit organization begun by a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College and teacher at a school that is informally known as the sister school of St. Monica’s. The textbooks written by this organization emphasize where Catholics and Catholicism have made big impacts in various areas in history. The textbooks also ensure that history is accurately portrayed, and is not bent for a specific agenda. Because of their rigorous accuracy and engaging layout and pictures, these textbooks are already beginning to be used in schools throughout the country especially in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Lannette, who had served on the board of the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC before it was purchased by the Knights of Columbus and has been involved with the North American College in Rome, has also been working to educate parents about childhood blindness. She has worked with the Vision Center at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles to create a public awareness campaign to help parents recognize signs of eye diseases, such as Coats Disease and Retinoblastoma, by looking at their children’s eyes in photographs. Lannette became involved in this work after a friend, whose son has Coats Disease, asked for her help so that other parents would not go through what her family had suffered. Because approximately 80% of childhood blindness is preventable, the website www.knowtheglow.org helps educate parents so they can recognize this problem early and seek treatment.
Lannette is currently focusing much of her time on creating a documentary on Blessed Pope John Paul II. The film, The Prophet of Our Times, focuses on John Paul II’s goals of evangelization and service of God. Lannette comments, “I have a fascination with Poland, having spent the past five years going back and forth to meet with Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, who had served as Pope John Paul II’s secretary.”
In fact, Lannette was in Poland in April 2010 when a tragic plane crash took the lives of Poland’s President, the late Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and ninety-four other members of Poland’s political elite. Lannette remembers, “It was interesting to watch the reaction of the public at large. It made me curious about world politics. In addition, studying the effect Pope John Paul II had on world politics made me even more interested about world affairs.” (Left: Mourners outside the presidential palace in Warsaw, Photo © Lannette Turicchi.)
When Lannette attended a lecture at IWP on communism in Poland, she found it fascinating. “The thing about IWP is that when you’re there, you run into people who have really had a hand in historical politics. You may be sitting next to a senator, congressman, or ambassador. It’s like candy for the brain. You come out feeling inspired and happy that people want to take education to the next level.”
And indeed, education is the focus of Scott and Lannette’s charitable work. Scott observes, “Whether it’s teaching elementary school kids history, training people for strategic military and political decisions, or even focusing people to look at their own photos, education is key. We live in a world that is engaged 24/7. For all the information we have access to, it’s hard to wade through it all, and as a result, there is much misinformation and confusion. Each of the organizations we are involved in has their own focus, but they all help people uncover the truth about the subject in which they have expertise.”
Scott has found that much of education, however, is far from perfect. “It’s been my experience in business that as we get more ‘educated,’ one of the things that is being lost is the ability to think critically. Because so many educational institutions are very specialized, they get so focused on one category of life, and lose out on developing critical skills that can be used in any area of life. If you have critical thinking skills, you have a better chance at finding the truth in all the information that bombards us constantly, and you are much less likely to be led in a direction by someone with a different agenda.”
For instance, the great books program at Thomas Aquinas College has the goal of developing these critical thinking skills in its students. These skills can be transferred to any profession or endeavor. Likewise, because these skills are so invaluable when life and death decisions are being made in the realm of international affairs and national security, IWP endeavors to teach its students to think critically in its core courses and throughout its curriculum.
As Scott says, “It should be a major goal of education to create good citizens and individuals who can think clearly – who can analyze a situation intelligently and figure out a conclusion.” And IWP is doing just this.