Author. Entrepreneur. Visionary. Healer. Husband. Father. Musician. Jeweler. Student. Poet. Growing Human.
Dustin Stitt – Founder
East TN Mentorship Association was founded by Dustin Stitt – that’s me! I was considering writing a cliche biography from the third person point of view, but the fact is that I’ve lived a lot of life in order to get where I am today, and one of the perks of that is the freedom of navigation that comes along with it. It’s been a long road, my friends, but today I’m blessed to be living my dream and surrounded by a support system of people who love the real me, not just who they think I am.
The parts that will impress you involve service as a military intelligence analyst and collector, or managing multi-million dollar government contracts. I’ve led teams of up to 80 people in environments ranging from Department of Energy sites to the Navy’s Pacific Fleet intelligence collection shop. The parts that impress me? Well, I’ve been through a lot and I’ve managed to thus far approach life as a student, determined to digest my experiences into the lessons they contain so that I can pass them on to help others.
I was raised in a broken home. My biological father was an alcoholic, though he’s in recovery now and I’m very proud of him. I’ve faced physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse throughout my lifetime. I faced grief for the first time when I was 11 years old, and went into isolation until I transformed my life out of desperation 15 years later. Nobody who thought they knew me really did, and you know what? It was my fault.
I grew up, joined the military, and was sincerely honored to serve with some of our nation’s most elite forces. I worked for some amazing leaders, and some horrible ones. I learned an equal number of lessons from each. I got married, became a father, fostered children, and ultimately, went through a difficult divorce. I bought and sold four homes before my 30th birthday. I took risks, finding both success and failure. I compartmentalized a lot of pain and then realized it wasn’t sustainable and went through the horrific process of tearing my own walls down.
I faced my story by writing it down in a memoir called “Depravity and Defiance.” I went to war with myself and won. I analyzed who I was and why. I discovered my honest voice and I promised to never live with anything else again.
Now, I’m married to my best friend (an ER nurse), and I’m a father to the most amazing little kindergartner. I’m a senior in MTSU’s Bachelors of Psychology program, and intend to continue on to graduate school. You know what I won’t do though?
I won’t limit myself to the tools and boundaries of a board that’s disconnected from the needs of the public by becoming a licensed therapist. Even after I’m finished with graduate school, I’m going to be running THIS company, and fulfilling THIS dream. I’d never underestimate the value of education – it’s what allowed me to overcome my own ideation and discover the meaning of TRUE resilience. I will be a student for the rest of my life.
But my calling as a healer is to CHANGE a failing system, and East TN Mentorship Association is my effort to use the lessons I’ve learned to do that. It isn’t all about theories and research. Sometimes it’s about finding the people who are in the muck, and showing them some options for how to get out of it.
My aim is to reflect the leadership of the many mentors who have invested into my development, and to embody the guiding theme of this company by EARNING my sanctuary everyday.
East TN Mentorship looks forward to continuing to grow and add new mentors in the near future.