Who We Are

Purposely.org fosters ongoing renewal and life direction through a carefully crafted process of self-directed peer group learning.
Our Story

The Center for Self Direction

The Center for Self Direction has been a pioneer in developing effective peer learning groups since its inception. For almost 20 years, the Center has been working with professionals to help them overcome isolation in their work, find new pathways to overcome obstacles, and to experience renewal and vitality in their personal life. With purposely.org, we are applying that same focus to help college students and young professioals connect deeper with their own sense of life purpose.
As an IRS approved 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization, the Center was founded in 2001 with generous grants from the Lily Endowment, Inc. and the Dixon Foundation of Birmingham, Alabama and has been supported by many donors over the years. While we have always asked participants themselves to support the program through their own fees, our donors help us keep those fees low while maintaining a high level of excellence throughout the program.
The Center for Self Direction is an independent, educational non-profit organization and is not directly affiliated with any school or university. We offer a unigue opportunity for students to enhance their overall educational experience through a carefully crafted process of peer learning groups.

Partner with us

If you are part of an organization that serves students and you think our program might help you or your students, we'd love to hear from you. Send us a message via chat so we can talk.
Our Staff

Meet Our Team

Jay Robinson

Executive Director
Lead Peer Group Guide
Jacksonville, Alabama

Jay is a friend of students and young adults as a mentor, life coach, and spiritual guide. Working closely with young adults throughout his career, for the past thirteen years he has worked exclusively with college students as the director of the Wesley non-profit student center on the campus of Jacksonville State University. He was a founding board member of the Center for Self Direction and began doing double duty as its executive director in 2015.

Jay began forming what has now become purposely.org over a span of several years. Frustrated by the outcomes that he was seeing from many of his students--high drop-out rates, high debt, and especially the high percentage of slow and false starts after graduation--he set out to develop something that he hoped would help students acheive better long term outcomes. Purposely.org is built on over twenty years of his experience, both in programs that serve young adults and in models of self-directed peer learning.


  • B.A., Birmingham-Southern College
  • M.Div., Vanderbilt University

Areas of Leadership

  • Executive Management
  • Relational coaching and mentoring
  • Self-directed peer group facilitation
  • Visioning and implementation

James Thompson

Lead Trailblazer, Community Moderator
Birmingham, Alabama

As a team member with purposely.org, he helps connect students together in their peer groups and provides ongoing support. If you contact us through our chat widget, James is probably the one you'll talk to.

Rock climbing, mountain biking, reading, and taking walks are a few of his hobbies. Overall fitness and health is an ongoing life pursuit.


  • B.S., Jacksonville State University
  • B.S., University of Alabama Birmingham

Areas of Expertise

  • Lead Trailblazer
  • Peer group onboarding
  • Community Moderator
  • Website Support

Scott Clark

Peer Group Guide
Huntsville, Alabama

Scott has been a part of the development team of purposely.org and has committed countless hours to visioning and stragetic planning of the program. This helps him fit seamlessly as a coach and mentor.


  • B.S., Jacksonville State University
  • M.Div., Vanderbilt University

Areas of Expertise

  • Peer group coaching and mentoring
  • Strategic visioning and development

Our Values Underpin Our


Groups form organically through individual buy-in. Though at times chaotic and messy, we don't interrupt the process by assigning individuals to groups.


With the help of their coach or mentor, groups identify their own learning goals and design a learning path forward.


In a dialogical interplay between shared experiences and group reflection, individuals are offered opportunities to engage in deep, meaningful self-reflection.


In loving rather than punitive ways, groups help to hold one another accountable for the goals and outcomes that were identified.

Our Purpose

Our brand is the silhouette of a compass with a person (blue) pointing up toward his/her life direction (lime). We believe that a deeper sense of life purpose leads to happier, heathier, more fulfilled lives.
Purposely.org is not a substitute for clinical counseling. If you feel that you might be suffering from depression, anxiety, or have suicidal thoughts, it is vitally important that you seek out appropriate care from a mental health professional.
© 2020 The Center for Self Direction, All Rights Reserved