The Board

  • Sarete was founded  to bring the benefits of Aikido to the broader community, especially for Veterans, Schools, Law Enforcement, and Survivors of Trauma.  Sarete believes that we all need the opportunity to practice being our best selves in the context of conflict.  Whether for meeting daily challenges, addressing crises, or healing from past experiences, together we can ensure that Sarete can be a resource for individuals and communities to

    “Practice Being Better in Conflict.” 

    Sarete’s mission is to “Teach the practice of Aikido as a means for reducing the impacts of conflict in daily life.” 

  • Jeff Dowdy

    Jeff Dowdy

    Executive Director

    Jeff founded the Sarete Program after working with youth and adults since 1997. As a sculptor, Jeff used the visual arts as instruments of social change in classroom and community settings. Prior to founding Sarete, Jeff was an art teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School. He developed an elective course using Aikido to introduce students to concepts of conflict resolution. “I thought I was teaching Aikido as conflict resolution but I found that so much more happened. Students who spent the day looking like they were about to jump in the ring started to hold their bodies in a different way. They no longer looked like they were preparing for danger. That was when I realized that a similar thing had happened for me and that I needed to share this experience with others.” Since then, Jeff has brought Sarete programs to veterans, at risk-youth, incarcerated individuals, university students, and military families.

  • Dan Dougherty

    Dan Dougherty


    Dan Dougherty is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice with his wife, Julia McLaughlin, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. They share home offices in Richmond/Henrico Virginia. Dan has worked in Public Mental Health and Psychiatry for 30 years. He retired from Henrico County Mental Health Emergency Services after 25 years of service. Previously, Dan held positions in Psychiatry at the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to becoming a therapist Dan was a professional trumpet player. He has an undergraduate degree in Music Education and Performance.

  • Adam Johnson

    Adam Johnson

    Web Developer

    After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University Adam is working in web development to help small businesses and organizations share their brand more efficiently. “Building websites is about building a good first impression.” Adam is also a martial arts practitioner and believes that the martial arts are a way of not only defending oneself, but also learning to navigate life more peacefully. He practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Aikido and that interest is what makes him excited about Sarete. He hopes that Sarete can be a resource for learning to let go of stress and anger.

  • James Lambert

    James Lambert

    Program Analyst with the VHDA

    James Lambert was born and raised in the East End of Henrico County. James enlisted in the US Army in May 2009 as a Motor Transport Operator. While serving his country he earned the rank of Sergeant, graduated as the Distinguish Honor Graduate from Warrior Leaders Course, and received many awards and commendations. Upon transitioning back into civilian life, James graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor’s in Economics. Currently, James is pursuing a dual Masters in Real Estate and Finance. He is scheduled to graduate from these programs in December 2016 and May 2017, respectively. James is currently employed as a Program Analyst at the VHDA, where he works on the Mortgage Credit Certificate Program. In his free time James enjoys reading, practicing yoga and volunteering his time to improve his community.

  • Art Swartwout

    Art Swartwout

    US Army Reserves, MBA Student

    After completing his MBA, Art will focus on providing leadership coaching to groups and individuals in corporate settings. Prior to VCU, Art served in the US Army first as a combat specialist commanding tanks in Iraq and later as a logistics specialist in Afghanistan. During his last two years he was stationed at Ft. Lee where he was responsible for Training and Curriculum Development for the Logistics Captains Career Course. His role as educator lead him to see leadership coaching as his next step. “After 10 years of telling people what to do, I decided I wanted to spend the next part of my career advising people what to do.”