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Gail Taylor (Goodman)

July 15, 1939 — November 5, 2023

Kansas City, Mo

Gail Taylor (Goodman)


Gail Goodman Taylor - Kansas City area native Gail Taylor, born Gail Goodman, passed away in her home on Sunday, November 5, 2023. Born to Conrad E. Goodman and Marianna Goodman (Blucher), Gail grew up in Shawnee Mission with her older brother, Bill, and younger brother, Cary.  She graduated from Shawnee Mission High School in 1957 before attending the University of Kansas where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Education in 1961. After college, Gail married Thomas Miller Johnston, settled down in the Kansas City suburb of Fairway, and had two children, Jeffrey Conrad (b. 1966) and William Todd (b. 1967).
Gail began her career teaching first and second grade in area public schools, followed by a few years teaching in a Montessori school before deciding to take a different path. In 1972, she co-founded The Learning Exchange, a pioneering educational nonprofit that brought teachers, administrators, business leaders, and students together to collaboratively design and deliver project-based learning programs that were then offered to area school districts. Courses such as Economics in Action, The Unseen City, Art in Education, Cardboard Carpentry, and Exchange City were among the offerings that engaged twenty two school districts, four private schools, three universities, and thousands of citizens over Gail’s seven-year tenure. The Exchange lived on for more than 25 years, with a number of offspring that continue different aspects of the work today.
Gail’s and Tom’s marriage ended amicably in 1975. In 1977, Gail married Richard Craig, a.k.a., Matt Taylor, a Kansas City area designer, builder, and founder of the Renaissance Project. In 1979, the Taylors moved to Boulder, Colorado, and co-founded Taylor Associates, which would subsequently become MG Taylor Corporation. The business combined Matt’s background and expertise in architecture and design with Gail’s expertise and passion for collaborative project-based learning, resulting in a professional consulting firm that offered organizations the ability to tap typically dormant individual and collective creativity and direct it towards solving complex organizational challenges in rapidly changing business environments. Here, Gail coined the term “Group Genius” to describe the state of creativity and productivity that emerged from groups she and Matt facilitated.
Over the 1980’s and 90’s, Gail and Matt grew the business throughout the US, serving clients in education, healthcare, insurance, high tech, media and government sectors, among others. In 1996, the Taylors licensed their methodology of collaborative design to an international management consultancy and, subsequently, the “MG Taylor Method” went global. 1997 saw the publication of “Leaping the Abyss: Putting Group Genius to Work”, a book detailing their methodology and including extensive interviews with the Taylors, as well as clients and facilitation team members. By the late 1990’s, they had been featured in publications such as Fast Company and Fortune, with institutions such as The World Economic Forum and the Stanford Design School coming to the Taylors for help in designing environments and processes to help their constituents and students engage with greater creativity and collaboration.
In 2002, Gail founded Tomorrow Makers, Inc., a nonprofit focused on teaching and facilitating place-based communities to learn better, more collaborative ways of working together. Around this time, she and Matt bought a home in the Northern California coastal town of Gualala, which they named “Elsewhere.” When not at Elsewhere, Gail’s work took her to such places as Switzerland, Italy, Canada and Australia, where she facilitated, taught and shared her body of knowledge with a variety of organizations and communities looking to emulate the methodology and ways of working she and Matt had pioneered.
In 2020, Gail and Matt returned to Kansas City, settling in the Commerce Tower in downtown. Though she greatly missed living nestled among mighty redwood trees and within sight of the gorgeous California coastline, she was very happy to be back in the town where she grew up and got her start in her career as teacher, entrepreneur, and community organizer. After getting involved in several new projects reminiscent of her Learning Exchange days, it felt to her, she said, that her life was coming full cycle.
Gail is survived by her husband, Matt, brother William (Bill) Goodman, her children Jeff and Todd Johnston, and two grandchildren, Owen and Connor Johnston. The family is planning a Remembrance and Celebration of Life for Gail in Kansas City in the Spring of 2024. In leu of flowers, please consider giving to one of the following organizations Gail was passionate about:
Youth X Youth – https://www.youthxyouth.com/
With a mission to accelerate the process of young people influencing, designing, and transforming their learning experiences and educational systems.
Synergized Impact Network Exchange – https://sine.network
A global alliance of social innovators committed to large-scale behavior change through collaborative learning, innovation, and unprecedented unified action.
The Buckminster Fuller Institute – https://www.bfi.org/
Honoring the legacy of R. Buckminster Fuller and continuing his effort to make the world work for all of life, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation. 

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