I grew up aspiring to be a police officer.  After graduating from high school, I attended Kirkwood Community College and received an associates degree in criminal justice.  I was on my way….or so I thought.  The day I graduated from Kirkwood it dawned on me that I had really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I still wanted to be a police officer, but that was really all I knew.

So as I was walking through the administrative building on the day of my graduation I bumped into a recruiter from the Marine Corps.  Having never thought about joining the military before that moment, I talked with the recruiter for 20 minutes about how the Marines could help me become a cop after being discharged.  I signed a four year contract after that conversation and shortly thereafter was shipped off to boot camp.

After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps as a machine gunner, I returned to Iowa to continue my education.  I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in criminology.  Now I was ready to start my law enforcement career.  Or so I thought.

I started applying for jobs in the Cedar Falls and Waterloo area and one night it occurred to me that although I was destined to be a police officer, it wasn’t supposed to be there.  After a call to my mom I packed up my 1993 Pontiac Grand Am with everything I could fit into it and moved to Los Angeles to join the LAPD.

I befriended a couple of LAPD officers when I first moved out there and moved into their house while I was going through the department’s hiring process.  I needed a job during this time  though and took a job working at a group home for boys that had been abused.  As the house manager my job was pretty simply in that I needed to make sure there was groceries in the fridge and that the guys went to school.  And if on occasion they wanted to talk with someone, I was there for them.  This was my first aha career moment.  I knew after the first week of that job that law enforcement was not where I was supposed to be.  I had found my calling.

For the next two years I worked at a residential treatment facility for teenage girls and their babies and after hours of informal counseling, it was time for me to get some education in what I was doing.  I went back to school at UCLA and received a graduated degree in social work.  After graduation, I started working as a mental health therapist at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Center.

Interestingly enough, I was ultimately hired by the LAPD as a domestic violence counselor in a very innovative unit in which counselors would respond to domestic violence calls with the police officers and provide crisis counseling in the home of the survivor.  It was during this job that my passion was ignited for violence prevention and community organizing.

When my wife Sara and I started to talk about raising a family, we decided to move to Iowa to be close to my family.  We moved to the Dubuque area and I took the job as the President/CEO of Riverview Center, which is a rape crisis/domestic violence center.

In 2011, I co-founded Resources Unite, an organization that focuses on strengthening communities by connecting people to resources and volunteer opportunities.  We know that people want to get involved and make a difference, but sometimes they just don’t know where to start.  Resources Unite is that starting point.

You can learn more about Resources Unite at http://www.resourcesunite.com

I spend a fair amount of time providing presentations around the world and consulting on topics of community organizing and violence prevention.  I love what I do.  You won’t find another person more passionate about the potential of individuals and communities.





  1. Josh,
    It has been a long time. I would like to speak with you. I realize that we were not the greatest of friends in the corps, however I have done a great deal of maturing. Please get back to me as soon as possible.

  2. Josh: the fact that there are people like you out there gives me fresh hope. anyone who has sent you threats is obviously too stupid to understand what you were saying, and is a part of the problem. keep up the good work. don’t cave in.

  3. I just wanted to drop by and thank you for your ad. Living in the UK, I’d not seen it until now, and the powerful message reinforced my belief that I am not damaging my son by refusing to enforce the “Real Men are STRONG and POWERFUL and can CONTROL everything!!” message. In fact, I believe I am doing him – and every human being he comes into contact with – a great favour.

    As a survivor and a mother of a young boy, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. It is people like you that make the world seem less bleak.

  4. Josh:

    Keep up the good work. You may or may not have seen a blog post I wrote on your ad and the response it’s generated. I don’t agree (as you’ll see) with everything the ad implies, but I salute your efforts to redefine masculinity and encourage respect for women and girls. The post is below. Please contact me if you’d like to further discuss or if you have any questions at roger@rogercanaff.com. Again, keep up the good work.


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