“Bill Cathers inspires tremendous confidence in everyone who participates in his seminars at The Aspen Institute.  He challenges, but it is a welcoming challenge, not a threatening challenge at all; and he inspires everyone to believe they can handle any material that is at hand—Plato, Aristotle, Beethoven—anything that seems erudite.  He makes the content relevant and creates a sense that it is urgent that all of us really need to know this material and that all of us can know it.  Mr. Cathers believes in each person who studies with him and they, in turn, believe in themselves.  He’s filled with enthusiasm and it carries over to anyone in his presence.  In his seminars there is an electricity going on around the room. You can see light bulbs going on in the minds of the participants. I’ve been in several of Mr. Cathers’ seminars and my daughter was in his high school program.  Like many others, we can attest to the fact that learning with Bill Cathers is a life-changing experience.”
Bonnie McCloskey 
Member of the Board of Trustees of The Aspen Institute
William Cathers holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Speech and Drama from the University of San Diego, and a Master of Liberal Arts from St. John’s College encompassing politics and society, philosophy and theology, math and science, and history. During college, he worked for legendary UCLA coach John Wooden at his summer basketball camps. After graduation, Mr. Cathers played two years of professional basketball in Europe.  Upon returning from Europe, he developed, directed, and was lead teacher of the Options Enrichment Program, an alternative high school program in Los Angeles for at-risk youth.  Students came from continuation schools and included expulsion cases, dropouts, pregnant minors, as well as others released from jail.  Cathers entered a team of these students into the United States Academic Decathlon, a rigorous, nation-wide intellectual competition. Competing against the top students from traditional high schools, Options won six medals, placed in the top ten in the Super Quiz, and won the music category with a record-setting team score.

Cathers’ extraordinary work in public education led to his becoming an Adler Scholar at The Aspen Institute, an internationally recognized think tank and leadership training organization, where he became a protégé of the institute’s intellectual architect, Mortimer J. Adler.  Subsequently, Mr. Cathers became a moderator of The Executive Seminar, the flagship leadership program of The Aspen Institute, and also co-moderated seminars with Dr. Adler on his books, Six Great Ideas and Reforming Education.  He also designed and moderated a number of innovative leadership seminars including: Understanding Democracy, Leaders and Values, The Individual and the Community, Democracy and the Problem of the Hero, War, Peace and International Relations, Economics and Virtue, Music and the American Experience, and The Great Ideas High School and Community Seminars.

Subsequently, Mr. Cathers launched Cathers Consulting to provide wider access to this kind of profound professional development. As Cathers’ colleagues from The Aspen Institute and leadership experts John Hillen and Mark Nevins write:
“In some of the most transformational experiences we’ve participated in for executives, they discuss with peers how to employ sophisticated ideas and concepts from history’s great thinkers to consider recurring problems and challenges in their organizations in a new and more fruitful way. Whether they agree with any historic thinker’s specific position, the arguments and “conversations across the ages” force today’s executives to rethink their decisions while they develop their own philosophy to raise their authority as leaders of the human enterprise by broadening their range and perspective.” 1
However, in this busy world, how does one acquire the transformational learning needed to become an authoritative leader of the human enterprise?  Moreover, where does one find the appropriate coaching needed to understand the sophisticated ideas and concepts that broaden a leaders’ intellectual range and perspective?  This is precisely the kind of professional development and coaching that Cathers Consulting provides for clients.  Through his speeches, seminars, personal coaching, and consulting, Mr. Cathers can help you understand the Great Books that provide the foundation needed for building and maintaining a healthy workplace culture.  Cathers, however, is not a classicist longing for the past.  He has both feet firmly planted in the present and is interested in how the Great Conversation throughout the ages can inform our decision-making today.
“As an academic, I’m surrounded by intellectuals. But for many years, I have not participated in a conversation that was as intellectually stimulating as the ones facilitated by Bill Cathers at The Aspen Institute. The discussion of the Greek Tragedy, Antigone, was perhaps the best discussion I’ve ever had of dilemmas faced by change agents and leaders in organizations. The conversation so moved me, that I built a case discussion of Antigone into my course on “Leading Social Change” at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.”
Professor Debra Meyerson 
Stanford University
Whether you are a university offering leadership courses, a school district training  administrators and principals, an executive in the private or non-profit sector, an athletic coach in charge of a major program, or a political leader in office or seeking office, Cathers Consulting can offer you and your organization the opportunity to delve deeper into the Great Ideas that support the development of effective habits of mind. As educators Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick explain:

“These Habits of Mind transcend all subject matters commonly taught in school.  They are characteristic of peak performers in all places: homes, schools, athletic fields, the military, governments, churches, or corporations. They are what make marriages successful, learning continual, workplaces productive, and democracies enduring.  The goal, therefore, should be to support others and ourselves in liberating, developing, and habituating these Habits of Mind more fully. Taken together, they are a force directing us toward increasingly authentic, congruent, and ethical behavior.  They are the touchstones of integrity and the tools of disciplined choice making.  They are the primary vehicles in the lifelong journey toward integration.  They are the “right stuff” that make human beings efficacious.” 2

Utilizing relevant and profound passages from the Great Books, along with insights from music, art, athletics and beyond, Mr. Cathers can design a program that fits your needs as an individual and your organization as a whole.  Mr. Cathers’ ability to utilize great works in a relevant manner, however, is only one aspect of his capacity for successfully engaging clients in “the university of the human enterprise.” In addition, he can coach you and your team in the essential arts of speaking, listening, and creating constructive dialogue. Moreover, his work in urban high schools, along with his background in athletics and business, brings a grittiness and common sense to his approach that is both profound and practical.

Due to the success and acclaim of the Options Enrichment Program, Mr. Cathers found himself in demand as an educational consultant by those seeking to replicate his success. Responding to this opportunity for influencing educational reform on a broader level, Mr. Cathers created the High Intellectual Preparedness Program. HIPP provides workshops for high school students and teachers and is a dynamic program for improving student achievement, teacher development, and school reform.

“If our democracy is to survive, or more importantly to flourish, it will be the result of the insights and efforts of educators like William H. Cathers. His understanding of The Paideia Program, not only in its pedagogy, but in its emphasis on the same quality of schooling for all of our children is unsurpassed. With the High Intellectual Preparedness Program, Mr. Cathers has once again demonstrated that his expertise is not just theoretical, but practical.  His ability to bring reforms out of committee rooms and into classrooms exemplifies the leadership skills needed to implement the changes necessary to improving public education in our country.”

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler   
Finally, Mr. Cathers has conducted a variety of workshops on music, opera, and visual art for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Opera and Philharmonic, The Aspen Institute, and the California Academic Decathlon. He has worked in jazz education, collaborating with critic/writer, Stanley Crouch, and jazz musicians John Clayton, and Donald Vega. He has written various articles for The Constitutional Rights Foundation and is currently at work on his first book, You Must Believe in Spring!
BA – English with minor in Speech and Drama – University of San Diego

Master of Liberal Arts – St. John’s College
Includes following segments:
• Math and Science
• Politics and Society
• History
• Philosophy and Theology

Adler Scholar: The Aspen Institute 1992-2000
As an Adler Scholar, Mr. Cathers studied and worked under the tutelage of Dr. Mortimer J. Adler as well as Adler’s colleagues, Charles and Gerry Van Doren.  Mr. Cathers attended a variety of seminars, lectures, and discussions presented at The Aspen Institute, and received intensive personal coaching from Dr. Adler.  He also participated in seminars co-moderated by Dr. Adler and the Van Dorens including: Modern Science and Ancient Wisdom, Ten Philosophical Mistakes, Desires Right & Wrong, The Four Dimensions of Philosophy, among others; and took the highly acclaimed Executive Seminar co-moderated by Charles and Gerry Van Doren.  Mr. Cathers also co-moderated seminars with Dr. Adler on his books Six Great Ideas and Reforming Education, before eventually becoming a moderator at The Aspen Institute himself.   

1 What Happens Now?  Reinvent Yourself as a Leader Before Your Business Outruns You - John Hillen and Mark Nevins. SelectBooks, Inc. New York
2  Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind pp. 39-40 Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick