The best modality to accelerate leadership development for middle- to senior-level leaders is personalized, one-on-one coaching.All coaches are selected through a comprehensive interview process and EdFuel ensures that each coach has an explicit understanding of how to develop leaders in their approach to diversity, equity and inclusiveness, regardless of their functional expertise. Our coaches have deep leadership experience and functional expertise in the following areas:
- Leadership and Management
- Organizational Strategy
- Development / Fundraising
- Finance and Facilities
- Human Capital / Talent
- Information Technology
“Our coach brings a balance of relevant experience, coaching expertise, and a perfectly calibrated sense of when to tell us what to do and when to teach us how to decide for ourselves. It’s tough to be an effective coach, and our coach goes well beyond effective—he’s an extraordinary coach, a rock-solid advisor, and the objective yet invested presence we desperately need.”Chief Executive Officer, Charter Board Partners
Meet the Coaches
Our coaching cadre includes an incredible group of senior leaders across the education sector. Meet some of our coaches below:
Amanda Cutright |Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Facilitator
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Strategy/Strategic Planning
Amanda Mills Cutrightis the Founder of Firefly Leadership and Co-Founder of Wind + Sail Leadership Partners. Prior to launching her own coaching practice, she served as the Vice President of Executive Leadership Strategy and Experience at Teach For America (TFA). In this role, she designed executive team retreats and served in various coaching capacities to Executive Directors and senior leaders nationwide. During her tenure, she led Learning and Development for the nationwide recruitment team, built an executive talent fellowship, and facilitated leadership retreats on a variety of topics including vision and strategy, diversity and inclusion, and change management. She started her career with the organization as a 5th-grade teacher in St. Louis City Schools. Amanda earned her Certificate in Executive Coaching through Georgetown University’s Center for Transformational Leadership, is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coach Federation, and is certified in the EQi Emotional Intelligence, Hogan 360, and Leadership Circle Profile assessments. Through the Society for Organizational Learning, Amanda has had the opportunity to train with leading researchers and practitioners of Systems Change. Amanda lives in DC with her husband and finds tremendous joy in keeping up with her preschool-aged sons.
Bob Oberleitner | Executive Leadership Coach
Expertise: Leadership and Management, Development, Operations
- Coaching Philosophy: My coaching philosophy is that leaders come to the engagement as whole and resourceful. I help them reveal their natural resourcefulness through questions and observations gleaned during the course of our partnership. I meet the leader where they are with the objective of navigating through the noise to the goal they have identified. As a coach, my goal is to coach from the heart and be in service to my clients at each coaching session.
- DEI + Coaching:Diversity, equity,and inclusion are a part of my coaching. As a coach, I facilitate clients’ exploration of their unique path that has gotten them to where they are now. Through being able to quickly establish a coaching rapport and deeply listening, I help clients feel atease. With that safety and space, they are able to open up to explore their background, perceptions and biases in order to see how these all go into their view of the world, and their professional relationships, now as a leader. This exploration helps clients better appreciate other perspectives and how sometimes our strongly held feelings and views can serve to either propel or hinder our success.
Carolyn Carpenter |Founder & CEO of Pearl Strategy Partners
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Strategy, Operations
Carolyn is a consultant and coach to mission-driven leaders, assisting them with their most pressing strategic and operational initiatives as well as management objectives. Carolyn has nearly 20 years of experience in line management and consulting roles and she understands first-hand the opportunities and challenges leaders face. She founded Pearl Strategy Partners to ensure leaders have objective yet compassionate support in the hard work of increasing their organization’s impact. Her recent clients include Walton Family Foundation, Teach For America, Los Angeles Unified School District, Ensemble Learning, World Federation of United Nations Associations.
Prior to founding Pearl, Carolyn was Deputy to the COO at Turnaround for Children, managed the Program Operations Department, and led efforts to redesign central & regional operations. In 2012, Carolyn co-founded Young Education Professionals NYC, which connects and empowers tomorrow’s leaders through knowledge, career, and professional development programs. Carolyn has also worked at Pearson, collaborating with State Education Departments to create an online assessment platform; at NYC Department of Education, managing 23 grant programs totaling $2.5B in funding; and at Teach For America, leading strategic planning efforts. She began her career advising Fortune 500 companies on large-scale change management. Carolyn holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Hamilton College.
- Coaching Philosophy: My goal is to create a safe space for leaders to explore different aspects of their leadership in a supportive environment that provides the opportunity to be reflective and vulnerable. These coaching sessions are a chance to hold up a mirror to gain insight and are designed to discuss ideas, approaches, and perspectives that help the leader to achieve their development goals. My style is gentle yet tough love.
- DEI + Coaching: Practices that promote equity, inclusion, and diversity are essential for organizations that support learning environments for all students. Many organizations are starting the hard work of identify ways that dominant culture norms have shaped their work and understand the importance of developing anti-biased and anti-racist practices. The next step in that evolution is to weave those learnings into the fabric of how the organizations run. I coach leaders on how to develop management practices, cultural norms, strategic plans, policies, processes, and operations that reflect their equity, inclusion, and diversity vision.
Clara Hess |Senior Managing Director, Strategy and Innovation–Teach For America
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Strategy, Human Capital & Talent
- Coaching Philosophy: My approach to coaching starts with an investigation of the client’s goals, values, and desire for growth. We’ll use a mix of inquiry, coaching exercises, short readings, leadership tools and reflection to identify and develop areas of growth in to strengths. Together we will find new ways of approaching problems, shifting ways of thinking to discover alternative perspectives, and weaving our work together into your day–to–day work.
- DEI + Coaching: I use a coaching approach of centering in identity and awareness but pushing further into interrogating power and relationships in teams, organizations, and systems where we live and work. I identify as a white, cis-gender, female leader and aspiring ally who got involved in education to dismantle the racism I saw as a student growing up in the South. We can address and dismantle anti-Black racism by looking at our organizations and ourselves to design systems and structures that are inclusive and equitable.
Elfreda Massie | Washington, DC Based Executive Coach and Independent Education Consultant
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Human Capital/Talent, Development
Elfreda has over 40 years of experience driving positive change and initiating reform in high–performing and challenging environments in diverse education communities. She specializes in coaching and empowering leaders to reach their full potential. She has held key leadership positions in public education including Superintendent, Chief of Staff, Deputy Superintendent, Associate Superintendent for Human Resources, and Director of Professional Development. She is a facilitator with the National Institute for School Leadership and a coach/facilitator with Performance Fact. She has directed comprehensive human resources and talent development programs and managed complex labor negotiations. She is adept at coaching and counseling those going through life transitions and those entering leadership positions in public education and corporate communities. Elfreda has a Ph.D. in Policy, Planning and Administration from the University of Maryland, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from John Hopkins University. She has held senior leadership positions at Blackboard, Harcourt, Global Partnership Schools, and Knowledge Delivery Systems. Elfreda has served on the boards of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, See Forever Foundation, and Boys Town of Washington, DC. She serves on the Executive Council of New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. Elfreda is committed to improving the education of all children and was appointed to serve on the Education Committee of the African–American Women’s Advisory Council to the President of Liberia. She has launched a successful travel agency, Premier Travel Unlimited, reflecting her pursuit of a well–balanced life and her entrepreneurial spirit.
Jennifer Barr-Weiss |Consultant, Barr Weiss Consulting
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Strategy, Operations, Talent
Jenn Barr Weiss supports schools and education non-profits in achieving strategic priorities through long-term planning, talent strategy, and coaching support. Jenn was a leader at Scholar Academies, where she oversaw talent practices as the network of turnaround schools doubled in size. Jenn’s professional experience includes time with Teach For America, KIPP, and DC Public Schools. She has a MAT from American University and a BA in Government and Spanish from Claremont McKenna College. As a consultant to schools and education non-profits, Jenn focuses support on developing and enabling long-term strategies, leading talent-related initiatives, and developing teams to expand their impact. Clients include EdFuel, Teach For America, Leading Educators, and numerous charter management organizations.
- Coaching Philosophy: An equity-focused leader supporting school systems and non-profits in achieving key priorities through strategic planning, systems development, and initiative management. Offering consulting support to develop, thought-partner, and support mission-critical initiatives. Strengths include growth planning, talent strategy, project leadership, and consolidation/closure management.
- DEI + Coaching: Just as we offer students differentiated supports to achieve their potential, we must offer adults differentiated support to grow and thrive. My coaching is centered on breaking down systemic and organizational barriers to success that have plagued adults in school settings and kept us from delivering on our promises to students.
Judy Lin | Chief Operating Officer, NatureBridge
Expertise: Operations, Leadership and Management, Strategy
Judy Lin is an experienced leader with an extensive skill set and unique background across the corporate and non–profit sectors. Judy is Chief Operating Officer of NatureBridge, the largest non–profit educational partner of the National Park Service. NatureBridge provides outdoor residential environmental science programs in national parks to over 35,000 students and 700 schools in each year. Judy oversees all aspects of program delivery including operations, education and sales and marketing.
Prior to NatureBridge, Judy served as Chief Operating Officer for KIPP Atlanta Schools, leading the organization through growth from two to eight schools and overseeing all areas of business and school operations. Judy was also previously the Chief Executive Officer of Beaucoup Favors, a leading online retailer in the wedding and special events industries, driving growth and profitability while scaling infrastructure and staffing. Judy held Director positions in Corporate Business Development and Strategy for Warner Bros. and Turner Broadcasting System working on strategic initiatives and global business development. Judy’s career in the sports industry spanned business administration at the U.S. Olympic Committee to event marketing and management with the National Basketball Association.
Judy holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. from Northwestern University in Economics and Asian Studies. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Coaching Philosophy: Being a leader is a big job. You have to lead and manage day–to–day responsibilities of your team, but you also need to inspire and motivate and stay focused on the vision and big picture. As you grow in your career and responsibilities, the opportunities and challenges only get bigger and more complex. I am here to listen. I try to understand you and your unique context, first and foremost. I ask good questions to get to the heart of the challenge or issue. I am your thought partner and confidante who has a broad perspective, experience and knowledge from which listen, empathize, problem solve and guide.
- DEI + Coaching:I center EI&D in my coaching practice based on where the client is in their EI&D journey. Whether the client is a BIPOC leader, an executive trying to establish organizational priorities and systems around EI&D, or a professional who is trying to be an effective ally or better understand their personal journey with EI&D. Being a BIPOC female leader in a mission-driven non-profit organization, I believe that I have a broad perspective and body of experience from which to reference, center, listen, empathize, thought partner and guide.
Kelly Harris-Perrin|Founder, Little Bites Coaching
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Operations, Team Culture
Kelly Harris Perrin has spent time teaching middle school, working in higher education, and managing teams and projects in the non-profit sector. She founded Little Bites Coaching to help leaders work smarter, make a big impact, and avoid burnout. Currently, Kelly partners with groups and individuals to revolutionize HOW they work, and tackles everything from strategic planning, team structures and division of labor, executive prioritization and organization, time & energy management, and even email inboxes.
Kelly is also the co-creator of the Shine360 Leadership Review, a strengths-based 360-degree feedback and coaching model for executives and school leaders.
Kelly holds a BA in History from Northwestern University and a Masters in Higher Education Policy from the University of Maryland. She’s a certified practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Typological Indicator instrument, is experienced in the Gallup StrengthsFinder, and completed Immunity to Change facilitator training with Minds at Work at Harvard University.
- Coaching Philosophy: My mission is to help people and organizations work better and feel better. We work on this in many ways, at many levels–from org–wide goals, culture and policies all the way down to an leader’s email inbox or 1:1 tough conversation. My coaching ‘sweet spot’ is where the adaptive and technical intersect, so we’re likely to spend time engaging in reflective coaching conversations and doing tacticalwork together like overhauling calendars, creating agendas, and reviewing data and work samples.
- DEI + Coaching: I’m committed to understanding and leveraging my own privilege, and to pushing my clients and organizations to notice and address systems of oppression and white dominant culture at work.
LesLee Bickford |Chief Operating Officer at Bright Morning
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Strategy, Operations
LesLeebegan her career as a middle school teacher in Philadelphia where she was inspired to make working towards educational excellence and equity her life’s work. Since then, she has served in multiple senior leadership roles at Teach For America locally and nationally, including leading efforts in recruitment, program design, and implementation, staff hiring and development, and teacher and leadership coaching. In her last role at Teach For America, as Vice-President of Leadership Development, she led enterprise-level work designing and implementing the organization’s first shared leadership framework and leadership development model. She is currently a partner at the Wildflower Foundation and the Chief Operating Officer at Bright Morning Consulting where she partners with Elena Aguilar to bring Transformational Coaching to educators across the country.
LesLee is certified in both Transformational Coaching and Cognitive Coaching and is an ICF credentialed coach. She has also studied the Immunity to Change method under Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey at Harvard. LesLee, her partner, and her two sons live in Minneapolis.
- Coaching Philosophy: I coach senior leaders who are facing a challenge or would like to be more effective or fulfilled in their roles. My expertise is in building transformational coaching relationships, but I’m not an expert on you, your unique context or your aspirations as a leader. As a result, I won’t have ready-made answers for you. Instead, I will hold space for you to explore the uniquely challenging questions that you must answer to be successful. I do have a perspective on topics such as what great leaders do and how to build thriving teams, but rather than present a generic solution I work with each client as an individual to help you discover the solutions that are right for you.I have been trained in several coaching approaches and blend techniques from all of them in my practice. However, the core of my approach is Transformational Coaching which is rooted in the belief that to change our behaviors (what most people identify as wanting to focus on), we must first explore our underlying beliefs and ways of being. If you’re ready to dig deep and are looking for someone to hold a mirror up to your practice, I’m likely a good fit for you!
- DEI + Coaching: As a practicing Transformational Coach, every coaching conversation I have is about equity. I filter every observation and wondering through an equity lens. I’ve been trained to look for patterns and trends and process what I see through my understandings of sexism, classism, institutional racism, and other forms of discrimination. There is no distinction between when I’m engaging in an “equity conversation” and any other conversation. This is because equity issues are present in all situations in our society. If they have yet to be identified as such it is likely because of the nature of systemic oppression -the inequities seem “normal.” As a white woman committed to liberation who walks through this world with considerable privilege, I have worked to cultivate a deep understanding of my own identity markers and how my identity shapes my experiences, and how I see the world. And my work in this area is never done. I am committed to consistently interrogating my own practice for ways I unwittingly uphold white supremacy and actively working to decenter whiteness in my thoughts and resulting actions. I am unwavering in my commitment to my self-work so that I can show up fully for others. I have spent the past 15+ years leading and coaching across lines of difference. My strength as a manager and team leader is rooted in my unwavering commitment to and belief in the people I work with. This starts with knowing and learning from each individual intersecting social identities and resulting lived experiences. I bring this same approach to my work with coaching clients and create affirming and brave spaces where my clients are able to show up as their full selves and step into their power.
Lindsay Kelly | Senior Managing Director, Press Secretary –Teach For America
Expertise: Communications, Marketing
- Coaching Philosophy: Lindsay’s career in external affairs is grounded in her belief that every child in this country deserves access to a high–quality education and a life filled with opportunity and choice. Subsequently, her coaching philosophy focuses on growing and supporting leaders who are equity–oriented and deeply grounded in the needs and assets of the communities they serve. Curiosity and connection are the two driving forces behind Lindsay’s coaching strategy, as she works to uncover the “why” behind intent and action and the “how” that can move a client from self–awareness to solution–building. Lindsay also has an acute understanding of the unique challenges that leaders in education non–profits and the K–12 sector face, and believes that change is only lasting if it is sustainable. By combining analytical reasoning, intuitive compassion, and a healthy dose of realness and laughter, Lindsay works to build healthy, engaging, and transformative coaching relationships.
- DEI + Coaching: Deep understanding of self is a critical foundation for Lindsay and the clients she coaches. As a coach, Lindsay continues to interrogate her understanding of self in relation to others, examine the ways in which she might be perpetuating systems of oppression, build her cultural competence, and engage in courageous communication. In order to guide her clients towards authentic, actionable, and inclusive leadership, Lindsay spends time uncovering where they are on their own diversity, equity, and inclusion journeys, meeting clients where they are, mapping out where they hope to go, and providing ongoing support in pursuit of their growth.
Melissa Kaplan |Deputy Superintendent, Bright Star Schools
Expertise: Academics, Leadership & Management, Organizational Culture & Health
As a first–generation college student, Melissa Kaplan is passionate about creating educational systems that are intentional about closing the achievement gap and ensuring every learner has the opportunity to succeed. As Deputy Superintendent for Bright Star Schools, one of Los Angeles’ most consistently successful charter management organizations, Melissa is responsible for the coaching and development of school leaders and central instructional support; the hiring, coaching, and retention of school site staff; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and ensuring the alignment between the organization’s core values and daily practices. Prior to her role at Bright Star Schools, Melissa served as Chief Academic Officer at ICEF Public Schools and has served in a variety of leadership and instructional roles including district and site administration, instructional coaching and literacy development, and classroom teacher. She has worked extensively as a consultant assisting districts and CMOs in curriculum development and system building. Her professional interests include academic program development, change management, and creating inclusive school and organizational culture.
Miwa Kamras |Management Consultant & Coach
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Human Resources/Talent
Miwa brings twenty–five years of experience as a teacher, non–profit executive, and human capital partner to her current work as an executive coach and talent consultant in the education and non–profit sectors. Miwa is passionate about building relationships, cultivating community, and coaching and developing leaders to maximize their impact. Throughout her career, she has partnered with a range of mission-driven leaders and organizations to build more diverse and inclusive teams and to ensure that equity is the foundation of the work.
Miwa began her career as an elementary school teacher in the DC Public Schools and Atlanta Public Schools. She then spent fourteen years developing and leading teams at Teach For America, including serving as the Executive Director of Teach For America DC and a Senior Managing Director on the Human Assets team. In her Human Assets team role, Miwa partnered with executive directors and leadership teams on human capital strategy, with a focus on talent development, team culture, change management, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Miwa holds an A.B. from Harvard University and an Ed.M. from the Harvard UniversityGraduate School of Education. She is a Certified Professional Diversity Coach through CoachDiversity Institute and a facilitator for the Leaders Aspiring Towards Antiracism series. She lives in Richmond, VA with her husband and sons and can always be counted on for a great children’s book recommendation.
- Coaching Philosophy: My coaching philosophy is rooted in several key beliefs:
- I believe in the power of feeling known and understood in our relationships with others. Therefore my coaching work begins with building an authentic and trusting relationship with my coaching clients.
- I believe in serving as a partner to my coaching clients –doing the work side–by–side to support growth and change.
- I believe in increasing self awareness –understanding strengths, areas for growth, blind spots, and patterns in how we operate –so that we can make meaningful shifts.
- I believe in staying grounded in the “so that” –the shared work of building more equitable communities where students, families, and team members thrive.
- DEI + Coaching:
I believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are the foundation of our work as teachers and leaders in education and non–profit spaces. In my work as a coach and facilitator, I believe that it is critical to take time to do the inner work –understanding ourselves and our identities, noticing and naming how white supremacy shows up in our work and on our teams, and reflecting on how we can build community and connection as leaders. All of this work is rooted in strong and trusting relationships, which I seek to build in all of my coaching engagements. I am a multiracial (half Japanese and half white) woman who is perceived as white based on my physical appearance. Defining and embracing my own racial identity has fueled a deep commitment to understanding the stories of others, challenging assumptions, and supporting leaders in ensuring that equity and belonging are the fabric of our work.
Monique Wright |Consultant
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Strategy, Academics/Curriculum Development
Monique has extensive experience in school leadership, adult learning theory, strategy, and team management garnered over the course of her fifteen-year career as a teacher, school leader, leadership coach, and non–profit executive. As an educational consultant, she is driven by a passion to dismantle systemic inequities in education that prevent an excellent education for every student, every day.
Monique’s career began as a Teach for America corps member after she completed her undergraduate degree at Temple University. Monique also earned two Master’s of Science degrees in Teaching and Early Childhood Leadership from Pace University and Bank Street College of Education.
- Coaching Philosophy: I believe the individual being coached has all s/he needs to move through their problem with guidance and support. I work to set clear goals, ask targeted questions, and follow up on our stated goals to ensure progress is being made. I offer resources and anecdotes when useful as well.
- DEI + Coaching: I work to center diversity, equity, and inclusion by continuously striving to be anti-racist through reading and studying on the topic. I also listen carefully during coaching engagements to listen to my coachee’s experience and also push their language if it is not inclusive.
Nafeesha Mitchell | Owner, NJM Coaching & Consulting | Chief of Staff to the CEO, Teach For America
Expertise: Leadership and Management, Development / Fundraising, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion / Anti–Racist Practices
Nafeesha is currently an executive director at Teach For America and owner of Nafeesha Irby Consulting. Nafeesha started her career as a high school teacher and advanced into teacher coaching supporting educators in the K–12 setting in both rural and urban communities. During this time she focused on developing the leadership of teachers beyond the classroom by providing differentiated and targeted one–on–one support. She later received her Master of School Administration and principal’s license before becoming a middle school administrator and soon a non–profit founding executive director.
She has first–hand experience with start–up initiatives, board building and governance, fundraising/development, talent hiring and performance, and systems change management. Nafeesha’s work has also included supporting individuals and teams to manage toward more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environments. She has been trained by the Racial Equity Institute to take a race–based approach to inequitable systemic issues. She has also been trained under the Distinguished Leadership in Practice model, Conscious Leadership, Understanding by Design, Facilitative Leadership and Crucial Conversations.
Nafeesha is a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College obtaining her Doctorate of Education in Leadership and Learning in Organizations.
- Coaching Philosophy: Nafeesha operates with a deep belief that a commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion as the lens by which institutions approach their work will undoubtedly lead to stronger performance outcomes. Her approach involves a candid analysis of the current state of affairs within a given context and clear recommendations about what it would take to move the needle toward the alternate future. She works with her clients to change mindsets and behaviors that will create the opportunity forevolution in policies, practices, and systems. She is a coach, capacity–builder, and strategist and her clients are positioned to operate with a heightened sense of awareness, agency, and clarity on what it takes to guarantee long–term change.
- DEI + Coaching:I center race and racial equity in my work and anchor into the broader umbrella of DEI. I approach my coaching with a race-forward lens and connect many of our ways of being, habits, mindsets, beliefs about our work, identity, and how we define success with racialized understanding of the world. I orient toward systemic racism as the underpinnings of our established and normative world view. I view racial equity and DEI as a journey and constant awakening that is hard, jolting, and extremely necessary to confront regardless of one’s own race and identity. He is the process of awakening and being able to develop new capabilities to replace the ones that have served many of us well in reaching our individual goals but has harmed our institutions and society as a result of being blinded by and to it. I have been formally trained in racial equity paradigms and have supported individuals and organizations on their journey.
Nashaira Ofori | Independent Coach and Consultant
Expertise: Inclusive Leadership & Management, DEI, Organizational Strategy
Nashaira Ofori is an independent consultant focused on inclusive leadership development. She has dedicated her career to helping people acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. As a coach, her approach is inquiry–based, goal–driven, and focused on asking the right questions to help you move from reflection to action. She asks lots of questions and leverages strong relationships to support compassionate accountability. The challenges/opportunities she most enjoys working through within coaching include inclusive leadership development (managing up as well as building inclusive leaders), intentional culture and community building, change management, professional development, authentic leadership, and system–level organizational change.
Nashaira’s previous experience includes:
- Providing executive coaching to school leaders focused on developing core components of inclusive leadership
- Serving as Head of DEI for an education technology company building and implementing strategy for advancing the company’s DEI journey
- Leading a professional learning practice focused on equipping school leaders and district administrators with technical and adaptive strategies for creating more inclusive school communities.
- Managing programs at the University of Michigan’s Center for Educational Outreach in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to support faculty and staff with building more diverse and inclusive summer programs for middle and high school students.
- Serving as a high school social studies teacher in Detroit, MI
Nashaira holds a Master of Public Policy from the Ford School at the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from Marquette University.
Neha Kale |Independent Consultant and Coach
Expertise: Human Capital & Talent, Operations, Data and Analysis
- Coaching Philosophy: I’m drawn towards coaching because I firmly believe in the power of empowering and supporting people in their own growth. I view my role as a coach, as one that’s facilitating the journey to get to a higher vantage point. Tactically this means creating the space, asking questions from a variety of perspectives/lenses, so we can develop a comprehensive, well-rounded understanding of a particular challenge/situation. The next step is for us to co–develop a plan to accomplish your goals. Throughout the process, I provide additional accountability and identify ways to overcome any unforeseen roadblocks. I also like to frequently revisit our goals to ensure they still match your needs and that you feel confident in your plan to achieve them. My coaching session structures tend to vary significantly based on client needs. For example, sometimes I may share an article, a template, or a framework to accelerate what you’re trying to accomplish. Other times I may role-play or provide feedback on a specific focus area. Most sessions will feel like in–depth conversations for us to co–create, plan, demystify and debrief whatever you’re tackling that week/month. As such, I firmly believe in meeting the person and organization I’m working with where they are and customizing my coaching sessions to help clients achieve their goals.
- DEI + Coaching: DEI is embedded in my work with clients intentionally, as each session is tailored specifically for each individual. My early sessions focus on learning about each person’s journey and perspective. Taking time to identify what informs a person’s views and understanding his/her unique challenges within a team or organization is instrumental in helping people achieve their goals. At the same time, creating space for personal reflection and asking clients to consider a variety of perspectives has been valuable in my experience as it helps clients more deeply analyze a situation or challenge. These conversations have helped clients identify and question their assumptions, individual preferences, or biases so that they can ultimately achieve their goals. Through open questions and active listening, I aim to pique their curiosity and address any personally held limitations so clients can be more confident, intentional, and inclusive in their practices, leading to comprehensive solutions and more effective teaming
Patricia McKee | Lead Coach –The Holdsworth Center
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Strategy, Leadership Development
- Coaching Philosophy: I love coaching because I believe in people, and I believe leaders who are living into their fullest and most authentic selves have the power to change the world. For me, coaching as an opportunity to support leaders in becoming and consistently showing up as the best possible version of themselves. My coaching is designed to build personal leadership and create new leader–generated insights by exploring the values, priorities and needs of my clients. I believe in creating spaces for reflection, learning, and growth by asking powerful questions and listening deeply. That said, my extensive experience in schools, school systems and non–profits also enable me to understand context and/or provide meaningful tactical support when helpful. Particular areas of expertise include: team leadership, managing through several layers of management, robust staff learning and development programming, special education, and values–based learning and leadership development.
- DEI + Coaching:Identity work and leadership development are core tenets of my coaching practice, and neither is possible without a strong diversity, equity and inclusion lens. No matter the goal or topic of conversation in my coaching work, I seek to honor the unique identities of my clients, and I am asking questions to push my clients in their thinking around the role their own identity and the identities of those with whom they work are playing, the power dynamics at play, and the ways that dominant culture and systems of oppression show up in every part of their work.
Sheri Leo| Vice President, Talent, Learning, & Culture -Leadership for Educational Equity
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Human Capital & Talent
Sheri Leo has spent more than fifteen years leading talent and change management efforts in non–profits, school organizations, and state departments of education. She brings experience as an elementary school teacher, strategist, and district and non–profit talent leader to her coaching work. For the past three years, Sheri currently leads talent, learning, and culture at Leadership for Educational Equity(LEE), a national civic leadership development organization with a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Before joining LEE, Sheri led recruitment, hiring, evaluation, and staff retention efforts at UP Education Network. While at UP, she improved network policies to create a more open, inclusive environment and coached school and network leaders on management and leadership practices. Sheri has also served as a senior consultant at American Institutes for Research and as director of teacher effectiveness for Chicago Public Schools.
Sheri began her career as a Teach For America corps member in Washington, D.C., where she taught first and second grade. Sheri holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University, a Master of Arts in teaching from American University, and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago.
- Coaching Philosophy: I approach coaching with a spirit of partnership and learning. My role is to hold up a mirror to your experiences and help you identify themes and patterns. We will explore the layers of difference—in identity, style, and experience—that you navigate in your leadership and management, and how to find your leadership voice while honoring the leadership in others.
- DEI + Coaching: I commit to anti-racism as a series of choices and actions we take each day, and I expect my coachees to do the same. I commit to centering the need for belonging and feeling valued, both for that coachee and others who the coachee interacts with. I commit to creating a space for deep reflection, honesty, and mistakes. Most importantly, I commit to gently but clearly naming the impact of actions even when unintended so that mistakes become growing edges.
Suzanne Lynn | Founder and CEO,SGL Consulting
Expertise: Leadership and Management, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion / Anti–Racist Practices
Suzanne began her career as a teacher in rural North Carolina, witnessing the academic opportunity gap and its profound impact on children and communities. Because of that life–changing experience, she has dedicated her work and life to addressing disparities in this country. She has built her career leading and managing teams across an array of social justice and educational organizations. Her path has positioned her to advise senior leaders and organizations on overall human capital strategy, management and leadership, staff culture and performance, diversity and inclusion, change management, and employee engagement. Having worked across the education and non–profit sectors, Suzanne understands first–hand the opportunities and challenges faced by those striving to make a change in our world.
Suzanne is a Certified Diversity Coach and holds a coach certification from the International Coach Federation. She received her Bachelors degree from the University of Virginia and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership & Ethics from St. Edward’s University in Austin. As an active member of her community, Suzanne is an elected member of the Northville Public Schools Board of Education, a Commissioner for the Northville Youth Network, and an ex–officio member of the Northville Educational Foundation.
- Coaching Philosophy: Suzanne believes that coaching is a tool to move you to action so that you are living the life you want to be living. She approaches each coaching engagement ready to meet you where you are and work together as equal partners. Suzanne brings her warmth, humor, and authenticity to each coaching engagement while also being willing to hold up the mirror for clients and help them get “unstuck” so that they can make positive forward movement.
- DEI + Coaching: Given my deep belief in anti-racist work coupled with my certification as a Diversity Coach, I approach each coaching engagement thinking through the lens of DEI and working with clients to help nurture their growth as leaders in this area–both for themselves as well as for those with whom they work.
Trena Drayton |Chief Operating Officer
Expertise: Finance and Facilities, Operations, Leadership and Management
Trena Drayton is a tri-sector leader with a track record of designing solutions for systemic problems, managing human capital, leading operational enhancements, investing capital and mitigating operational risk. She’s been both an investor (research analyst and private equity) and an operator (CFO, COO, and CHRO) with half of her career spent at educational institutions: K-12 and higher education. Her work tends to be at the intersection process, people, and product with attention toward the overarching strategy, financial implications, and resource needs associated with decisions. She practices adaptive leadership and emphasizes reconciling the macro with the micro when crafting strategies, stewarding change and implementing plans.
Trena’s coaching style is Socratic with an emphasis on unpacking the root of each situational layer. Her experience has been that this approach builds her coachee’s self–awareness muscle while fostering a deeper understanding of the why. Trena especially likes to solution-building partnerships with her coachees through the lenses of adding perspective, stretching ideas, and considering impact (both intended and unintended). Her aim is for coaching work to be thoughtful, engaging, and relevant. She actively serves on 2 not–for–profit boards and holds a MBA in Finance and Organizational Behavior from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
- DEI + Coaching: DEI shows up in my work through my personal experiences, my training (coursework at Kellogg), and my work (Director of Diversity, CHRO). Given these layers, my coaching is rich with insights, data, and perspective.
Veenay Singla | Talent, Strategy and Leadership Consultant
Expertise: Leadership & Management, Strategy
Veenay Singla is a strategic advisor and executive coach focused on talent, leadershipand organizational strategy exclusively in the education sector. Veenay has led a number of successful consulting engagements including:
- served as an interim Chief of Staff to a c–level leader by providing additional capacity, leadership and project support at a large national CMO;
- developed and facilitated a leadership development program for school leaders which included customized trainings and 1:1 coaching;
- led and completed a founding CEO search for a new national teacher development organization inNew Orleans;
- devised and conducting a talent audit for a non–profit in Boston resulting in significant organization restructuring;
- analyzed data from a large urban school district’s principal pool to inform recruitment and retention strategies, and;
- oversaw all planning and execution aspects of an annual city–wide teacher celebration event in a large urban school district.
Veenay previously held the position of Associate Partner with the Pahara Institute and Bellwether Education Partners, where she provided thought partnership, operations support and program development with the design of the Aspen Teacher Leaders Program, a leadership program for teacher and union leaders. At Pahara, Veenay also provided key selection and growth support to the prestigious Pahara–Aspen Fellows program. In addition, she led the charge to analyze and improve Bellwether’s organizational culture, and led the planning and implementation of several organization–wide internal systems. Earlier, Veenay worked for the Chicago Public Education Fund, a Chicago–based venture philanthropy, where she managed the organization’s multi–million dollar teacher quality portfolio. She also worked for Chicago Public Schools, where she assisted with various teacher quality initiatives and for Boston Public Schools, where she played a key role in helping to establish the district’s first alternative certification program and urban principal preparation program. Veenay began her career as a fourth grade teacher in Houston, Texas as part of Teach for America. Veenay earned her M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and an Ed.M. from Harvard University. She graduated with her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. Veenay is a certified executive coach through the Newfield Network, is certifiedthrough the Center for Creative Leadership to administer all of the 360 assessments in their portfolio and is a certified Crucial Conversations trainer. Veenay serves on Advisory Boards for Pilot Light and Future Leaders of Chicago, volunteers coaching services to The Coaching Fellowship and is a strategic advisor to Tide Risers, a national leadership development program for women leaders.
- Coaching Philosophy: In general, we will focus on what is most important to the client. I tend to focus on leadership, management, talent, organization development and change management issues with my clients. I think the cornerstone of a strong coaching relationship is centered around confidentiality and trust –both parties have to come to the relationship willing to be honest and “say the thing.” Sometimes coaching conversations are uncomfortable and coaches and coachees must be willing to be pushed/uncomfortable to accomplish goals. I also think the structure of the coaching engagement is important for a successful relationship: both parties must commit to the process and show up willing to participate and prioritize the engagement. It is important to set achievable goals from the onset of the engagement so that we are working toward a north star.
- DEI + Coaching:I approach DEI in my coaching practice in two ways: 1) I appreciate the diversity of each coachee and recognize their unique and individual attributes; and2) I work with my coachees to help them recognize how DEI factors into their work, the organizations and their own individual leadership.