Lead with AgilityExecutive Coaching for Leaders
Andrew Rosen, President and Executive Director at Angel Foundation
“I found Debbie’s style invaluable. She has an uncanny ability to help her clients come to the answer themselves, exactly what a coach and facilitator should do.”
Diane Cushman, Executive Director, National Council on Family Relations
“I hired Debbie to help reorganize our nonprofit professional society. She was thoughtful, asked all the right questions, and used a process that delivered results. She’s a great thinker and creative problem-solver.”
Barbara Milon, Executive Director, Phyllis Wheatley Community Center
“The leaders coaching group provides an opportunity for busy executive directors to exchange information, problem solve and generate ideas that offer solutions based on experience and wisdom. It can be lonely at the top. The leaders group is a time to connect and support each other as Executive Directors. I found the leaders group is a great way to receive the needed support for very critical things in the day to day life for an executive director who has a myriad of stakeholders in a demanding and new environment.”
Bert Winkel, Executive Director, House of Charity
“Debbie Okerlund is an excellent Leadership Development professional. She is especially good with senior leadership development, coaching and guiding by developing strong, trusting relationships that drives professional and personal growth. Her style is pure and open honesty that leads to introspection on both personal and organizational levels. I recommend Debbie to any one that is serious about leadership development.”
Shelley Jacobson, Executive Director, Prevent Child Abuse, MN
“Leaders have a rare opportunity to share in a safe environment. Debbie’s feedback is thoughtful, insightful, on target, and thought provoking — not an easy combination to achieve! I wholeheartedly recommend Debbie’s services for any Executive Director who is looking for a fantastic growth experience.”
Linda Stuart, Intercultural Consultant, former Director, Global Citizens Network
“As two organizations recently blended, the entire staff committed to internal peer coaching circles for 12 months with the belief that the answers were already among us-we just had to ask the tough questions. Debbie seamlessly and consistently created the space and structure for us to really be a learning community where we could challenge the status quo and embrace leadership with courage.”
Fred Easter, former President and CEO, The City, Inc.
“I joined the executive director coaching circle at the urging of a colleague. I am forever grateful. It is so helpful to be in the company of folk who have had the same experiences and issues. The help is private, supportive, intelligent and USEFUL.”
Michelle Basham, Esq., Executive Director, The Bridge for Youth
“Debbie creates a safe space and builds the foundation for her clients to find answers themselves to the leadership challenges they face.”
Cindy Kelley, Executive Director, Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless
“I leave our coaching group meetings feeling a renewed energy to tackle the challenges facing me. I appreciate the opportunity to share with others some of the challenges and frustrations of this (at times) lonely job. At other times, I welcome the perspective of others in handling delicate situations. It is worth my time to attend!”
Dori Denelle, Vice President, Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership and Management; former Executive Director, St. Paul Jewish Community Center
“The peer coaching group provides critical input and support, from colleagues who have “been there.” I can think of no other place where I can get such honest feedback that gently pushes me in the right direction. With her keen listening skills, Debbie has helped me to focus on my own strengths, enabling me to move forward with some difficult decisions for myself and for my agency.”
Mike Karel, Chief Operating Officer, Episcopal Homes Senior Housing & Services
“Debbie is a strong voice in the professional executive coaching space. Our organization has hired Debbie numerous times to help develop some of our new managers’ professional skills. Debbie brings a real life approach to executive coaching that translates into immediate improvements in the leadership skills of our team.
Kristi M., InterCultural Student Experiences
Thanks so much for helping me recognize some things about myself that were potential barriers to my professional success.  As a result of our time together, I feel that I have learned tools that will help me be a better communicator.  I have a better understanding of what motivates me and how to incorporate that into my daily work life.
Dan Johnson, former Executive Director of Kinship of Greater Minneapolis
“Coaching changed me. I was feeling anxious because of completing a longstanding job. I hired Debbie and now have a sense of accomplishment and am feeling at peace.”
Mark Hiemenz, Nonprofit Consultant; former Nonprofit Executive Director
“My sessions with Debbie help me identify my thoughts and feelings about the issues she is helping coach me through; She gives me tools to help think about things in new ways that enable me to address issues and move forward to growth and solutions.”
Jane G., Human Resources Professional
“My coaching experience with Debbie was just what I had hoped for. She quickly helped me define key goals for our time together and kept me focused on working toward those goals. I was impressed with her depth of knowledge and her individualized and caring approach to her clients. Debbie is a skilled facilitator of change!”
Marit M., Fundraising Professional
“My life was in transition, my kids were leaving the nest and I was leaving my nonprofit employer of 10 years. I wanted to do things differently, but I didn’t really have a plan. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Debbie who helped me to clarify my goals, identify the path to accomplishing those goals and face the road blocks keeping me from success. As a result I’m more confident about my abilities, focused on where I want to be and content with the process to getting there. Debbie provided me with the guidance that helped me to define the next stage of my life. For that, I will always be thankful!”
Christie Hammes, Strategic Director of Development Services, Management Assistance Program (MAP) for Nonprofits
“For more than 8 years Debbie has provided a vital service to nonprofit leaders through MAP’s Leaders Circles® and Professional Coaching programs. The individuals and groups with whom she works consistently report improved effectiveness as a result of her coaching and facilitation. In a recent survey, 94% of the participants in her circles said of her facilitation that it ensured the process and environment were conducive to each member making the most of the experience. MAP is fortunate to partner with Debbie in bringing her many talents to the nonprofit sector. I am grateful to count her as a valued friend and colleague.

 MAP’s Leaders Circles® participants’ quotes:

“Debbie is a tremendous and skilled facilitator who insures that each of us have the time and opportunity to problem solve.”

“Debbie Okerlund is a superb facilitator — she knows when to step in and guide the conversation and more importantly, when to step back and allow the group to move forward on its own. Her comments are always insightful and to the point, and her questions dig deeper into the issue and challenge us to look at it from a variety of perspectives. She’s simply wonderful!”

“Debbie’s gentle, calming and accepting manner allows the circle members to feel comfortable sharing at a very deep level. We know that she is there to direct and guide the process.”

“This has been a critical place to turn when I had major issues to resolve and needed some perspective. The Leaders Circle® helps with anxiety of making difficult decisions. “

“The Leader’s Circle provides an opportunity to learn how other directors are dealing with the same issues. The peer support model allows for a good discussion of ideas and leads to greater learning for the entire group.”

“The Leadership Circle has given me greater confidence in my abilities and practical resources to make my job easier and normalized many challenges I face in my leadership position. It’s a great source of support and terrific networking.”

“Debbie has done a wonderful job of holding the space and managing time so that each of us has our time. In addition, we are reminded of the process and key ground rules that help us achieve the most of the experience.”

“The position of Executive Director can be very lonely. Regular connection with peers, especially in a supportive problem solving environment can mitigate that. And it also provides the added value of fresh perspective.”

“I would encourage all Executive Directors to participate in a leader coaching group. It is extremely beneficial – not an opportunity to pass by.”

“When you’re an ED on a rough sea and it feels like the ship – or you – is sinking, the Leaders Circle is a lifeboat.”

“The group and facilitator have coached me through some very difficult changes and I have emerged intact and thriving! It is one of the more valuable things I do each month.”

“Debbie is a really wonderful, engaging facilitator!”


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