Augie Turak (Chairman of the Board)
On the surface, Turak is a successful businessman who has run several award-winning Triangle software companies. But Turak's real passion throughout his life has been what he calls "spiritual seeking"struggling to answer age-old questions about life and death. In his twenties Turak quit college and studied with American Zen master Richard Rose for five years. A powerful storyteller and frequent lecturer, Turak seeks to inspire people to find deeper meaning. He is also the founder of the Self Knowledge Symposium Foundation.
Father Francis Kline, OCSO
The life of Father Francis Kline demonstrates that God can move and inspire men in many ways. The Self Knowledge Symposium Foundation and its members are among the many grateful recipients of his talents and efforts.
Joseph Kline was a true child prodigy, studying privately with Alexander McCurdy of the Curtis Institute before entering Juilliard School as a student of Vernon deTar. During his last year at Juilliard (1970-1971), he presented the complete organ works of J. S. Bach in fourteen recitals, inspiring an editorial in the Christian Science Monitor and a feature article on the twenty-one year old in the New York Times. The Philadelphia Musical Fund Society sponsored the Bach cycle the following year, and the Columbia Recordings of these thirteen recitals are still aired today.
His musical career, which included appearances on the Voice of America and as a featured soloist at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, came to an abrupt halt in 1972 when he entered the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani in Kentucky and took the name of Francis. He studied theology in Europe from 1980 to 1984, and was ordained a priest in 1986. On January 21, 1990, he was elected third Abbot of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina, and was appointed Director of the Office of Prayer and Worship for the Diocese of Charleston in March of 1995.
Under Father Francis' guidance, Mepkin Abbey has flourished as a spiritual sanctuary while simultaneously offering an open door to diverse spiritual seekers. Members of the Self Knowledge Symposium are frequent and welcome visitors, and several have enjoyed the remarkable experience of living and working with the Brothers through the monastic guest program. Augie Turak has found a second "spiritual home" at Mepkin, with regular, extended stays as a monastic guest and receiving direction from his Spiritual Director, Father Christian. The Self Knowledge Symposium and the Self Knowledge Symposium Foundation are eternally grateful to Father Francis and all the monks at the Abbey, for allowing us to share in their community and their service, worship, and love of God.
Click here for a press release about Fr. Francis joining the SKSF Board of Directors, with much more biographical information.
Steve Grubbs is CEO of media buying giant PHD North America. He is a former chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Network TV committee and serves on the board of directors of the Advertising Information Services. He is also a two-time winner of the annual Mediaweek "Media All-Stars" Award. One of the most respected authorities on television in the United States, he is frequently called on as an industry speaker and media commentator, and it is a rare week that he is not quoted in USA Today, Sports Illustrated, or the Wall Street Journal.
Augie and Steve met while students at the prestigious Hotchkiss Preparatory School, and were classmates of Kit Luce, another longstanding friend of Mepkin Abbey. Remaining a lifelong friend of Steve's has been a pleasure and an honor for Augie, for Steve is a "stand-up guy," serious thinker, and a very good friend to the Self Knowledge Symposium. His sincerity and "real-life" wisdom made him one of the most popular attendees at the SKS 1999 Avila Retreat in Durham, North Carolina, and we are pleased and honored to have him on our Advisory Board.