Andrew L. Gardner III - Biography
Andrew L. Gardner III
Founder and President
Brothers Like Me (Nonprofit 501c3)
“Giving men the tools to fine-tune their emotional resilience.”
Andrew L. Gardner lll
Andrew L. Gardner III (Certified Anger Management and Domestic Violence Prevention Specialist; Associate of Arts in Communication, Theatre and the Arts) is Founder and President of the innovative nonprofit organization Brothers Like Me. Since October 2020, Andrew has presented interdisciplinary workshops where he teaches solutions for men who struggle with self-regulation and de-escalation. Andrew helps reduce intimate partner violence by building up men who learn accountability and empathy in hands-on workshops and courses for various audiences. But all the moments leading to this moment weren’t good ones.
In a personal essay, Andrew described some experiences that led to his own struggles, rehabilitation, and important work:
"I grew up seeing my mother abused by my father. My mother wouldn’t fight back and as the oldest child out of her three, I wouldn’t try to break up the fights because I was scared of my dad. As I grew older, this cycle continued until my mother finally got the support and courage to divorce my dad. My mom moved us to West Philly to live with her parents; but even in divorce, my father would come there and try to act controlling. Once, a male friend of my mom gave some money to my brother, my sister, and me. My dad found out because of me and became very furious. He drove to West Philly, slammed my Mom’s head into the wall, and left. My mom got mad at me for not helping her. I felt so terrible in that moment.
To give my Dad some credit, he did clean himself up, and got his act together in some ways. He eventually remarried and I was sent to live with him in the 12th grade. My dad would relapse every once in a while. During his relapse he and his wife would get into domestic disputes. As I got older, I gained the courage to step in and break them up. However, his wife would get mad at me for helping out. This left me confused. I would learn later in life that this behavior is called, "The Triangle Effect: where domestic violence would affect the three people that’s involved. The Victim, The Rescuer, and The Persecutor." In most cases the rescuer (me) would side with the victim (My mom or my step-mom). That would cause tension with the persecutor (My dad), who could also be considered the villain, if this were a Hollywood movie. I also learned later on in life; that if you have to step in to break up a domestic dispute, always remain neutral. Don’t pick a side. And leave as soon as the scene is de-escalated."
As Andrew came into his own, he picked up the abusive traits of his father. It was behavior he had learned throughout the years. Many of the skills for dealing with anger – constructive and destructive – are learned in childhood. Of course, there are the feelings, as well. Andrew was never able to forgive his father or his mother because he felt like they both abandoned him. Sometimes in life you can become the things you don’t forgive. But this behavior caused Andrew a lot of pain. He destroyed relationships, lost job opportunities, and lost a lot of money throughout the years, until he got tired and stopped blaming other people for his misfortunes.
Besides the Rescuer part of the Triangle, Andrew experienced being a victim and an abuser. He found himself struggling to get help. He remembers how it felt not wanting to get help at certain points in his life, because of the fear of being judged, thinking that nobody would want to help him due to his past. It was hard to find a program for abusers. There were no walk-up rehabilitation programs for abusers. This led to an important question:
Where was the help for self-aware people who wanted help before things went too far?
Andrew started to hold himself accountable for his actions by reading, seeking mentor-ship, and avoiding heated situations. He took responsibility for things by utilizing key tools to manage his anger and become more self-aware.
But the road wasn’t easy. He writes:
I was embarrassed about seeking help. There weren't any programs out there for brothers like me.
Andrew eventually entered into a program after a very traumatic event. Once Andrew started the process of healing and growth, he went on to become a certified Anger management specialist and certified domestic violence specialist through the National Anger Management Association.
"I decided to create a nonprofit organization called, "Brothers Like Me". The organization specializes in helping adolescents and men deal with anger issues and prevent domestic violence. I kept all of my experiences in mind when I created this program. Where adolescents and men come voluntarily to a judgment-free zone – either before or after a devastating incident – experiences are shared and voices are heard. They receive anger management and domestic violence education, they build trust, and they are held accountable for their actions. I believe that many who have come, have also shared a very similar story to mine, and many have so far."
Andrew’s Program and Services
Since 2020, Andrew has been invited to lead discussions with adjudicated youth, military college cadets, church groups and domestic violence survivors. He is an effective speaker who shares about his struggle to become an instructor and advocate. After witnessing domestic violence growing up, he successfully re-framed and changed habits that led him to have difficult relationships himself. The most innovative aspect of "Brothers Like Me," is Andrew’s use of self-made video dramatizations of difficult conversations between intimate partners; in conjunction with practice using alternative and corrective solutions, as well as constructive de-escalation behaviors.
Between October 2020 to present day, Andrew has trained upwards of 150 men and women on how to manage themselves and grow empathy for partners and family members. Especially remarkable is his ability to talk from experience about ways to accept accountability, ask for forgiveness, and take deliberate steps to build back trust amongst friends and loved ones. Recent clients and workshops include: Fall 2020 3-Part Series on Origins of Anger and Strategies for De-Escalating Conflict for The My Brother's Keeper Men's Ministry; October 2020 Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Conversation with Community Survivors (Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church - Mt. Airy and Cheltenham, PA); Winter 2021 Aftercare Evening Reporting Center (Philadelphia, PA); 6-week Course in Anger Management; and the 2021-22 Arts Against Anger Community Video Project (Ardmore, PA).
Andrew and his team at Brothers Like Me are combining their scripting and film skills with his background in theatre. Having acted in stage versions of Shakespeare’s King Lear, Oscar Wilde’s Ideal Husband, and Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace. Andrew likes to use drama and improv in conjunction with communication, breakdown case studies, and teach workshop participants to see themselves in video dramatizations, where couples argue, then manage to de-escalate and prevent violent conflict. Andrew is available for speaking engagements, consultation, and workshops.
"Life is a one-way destination traveling on moments, meaning you can never go back to the moment before. All you can do is focus on the moment that’s at hand and create better moments until the day you land."