An Interview with James Paley: An ATTA Hero Working on Leadership Development in El Salvador

An Interview with James Paley: An ATTA Hero Working on Leadership Development in El Salvador

Providing Clean Water While Bringing Communities Together

This month, we interviewed James Paley, a long-time supporter of children in El Salvador, to share his story with us.  James has seen the hope and healing that clean water brings to a community first-hand, having taken several trips to El Salvador even before One ATTA Time was founded.  James saw our Executive Director, Sean Kappauf’s concern for the health and well-being of his sponsored child Brian, and Sean’s determination to provide a solution to help solve the water-borne disease that he and so many other children were suffering from.

James has worked with ATTA, to train student leaders, watching them emerge as change agents. He attributes the Leadership Development Program’s success to the combination of leadership training and practical community service.   Beyond the health and productivity benefits of ATTA’s work, he has also watched these student leaders bring communities closer together for the betterment of their environment, education, homes and neighborhoods.  

We asked James a few questions and these are his answers:

What initially sparked your interest in helping One ATTA Time?

Prior to the creation of One ATTA Time, I had the privilege of visiting El Salvador with Sean Kappauf on numerous occasions to visit our sponsored children.  I experienced first-hand Sean’s frustrations and struggles, and his decision to act, when he learned about Brian’s (his sponsored child) illnesses caused by contaminated water, and how they adversely impacted his ability to attend school and function in a healthy manner. 

Why do you believe it is important to support One ATTA Time?

I support One ATTA Time and its vision to provide clean water, because I have personally and repeatedly experienced how one filter can improve and impact the lives of children and families.  I can attest that water-borne illnesses have been eliminated with the smallest of investments.  My sponsored children have benefited tremendously from ATTA’s efforts, as they are 100% free of bacterial infections, parasites and worms.     

Can you tell us about the leadership program for ATTA that you've been involved with?

A team comprised of Salvadorian and North American faith-based organizations, and private and public schools in Las Delicias, San Martin, created the Leadership Development Program based on the James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s The Leadership Challenge.  What made the LDP successful was combining leadership training with practical community service.

The program took off when student leaders became the change agents in their communities—they would assemble, monitor, and train families how to properly employ and maintain the ATTA filter.  Something interesting happened besides improved health and productivity when the student leaders returned to the homes every six to eight weeks to follow-up:   their acts of service and personal connections with the families brought the neighborhoods and communities closer together.   Two schools across the community periodically join together for various projects involving trash pick-up, home visitations, school maintenance, tutoring younger students, and the list continues. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your work at Paley Stone and your speaking engagements?

For the last 25 years, I have worked in Southern California’s construction and service industry meeting the ceramic and natural stone maintenance, repair and restoration needs of thousands of homeowners, home builders, designers, fabricators, installers, and suppliers.  In 2019, I sold my company and now provide consulting, training and testing services to my residential and business clients.   Most importantly, I now have more time to partner with One ATTA Time bringing fresh water to the less fortunate and create opportunities for students leaders to serve their neighbors and community.

James Paley is an expert and consultant to the natural stone industry.   He has a formal education in geology, which he has applied to his career as a leader in the stone and tile forensics and marble and stone care industry. He is also a 2020 CEU Certified Speaker for the Natural Stone Institute, formerly the Marble Institute of America.  This leadership experience in his field is now helping One ATTA Time in the development of programs, such as the student Leadership Development Program described in this interview.  For more information about James Paley’s involvement with ATTA, please visit this link on the Paley Stone website:


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