Now, more than ever, the world needs unshakeable leaders rooted in the courage and resilience needed to put humanity on a different path. In my 20 years working in the nonprofit and social sectors, I was one of those leaders, carrying the weight of changing the world, of nurturing my teams, and of growing and nurturing myself. I know it’s a lot to carry!
I work with brave changemakers through high-impact coaching, facilitation, and advising, helping them get business done while also living a balanced life. My goal is to provide truth and partnership (aka, Candor & Company) to ensure changing the world is never a lonely venture.
The essentials: My life has taken me from small-town drama club loving kid to a big-town big-hearted professional with a deep desire to change the world for the better. I’ve loved to lead for as long as I can remember, despite spending most of my formative years being told I was just bossy. Once called ‘the most drama-free leader I’ve ever worked with’ I seek to embody and cultivate new models of leadership that espouse inclusivity and restoration over power and extraction. My core values are contribution and balance: I strive to always be contributing, recognizing there are moments where my voice is critical, and moments where my greatest contribution is quietly holding space for the voices more critical than mine; and I always seek balance, both in the ratio of chocolate to vegetables I consume daily, to ensuring equal parts work and play in my days.
I am determined to be a participant in changing oppressive systems. I care deeply about understanding and changing the way money moves, and particularly about creating a more just and less extractive economy that works for all. I want to demonstrate the courage and resilience it will take to put humanity on a better path, and help committed leaders cultivate the same, in hopes our descendants will see us as ancestors who catalyzed a more caring, inclusive, and sustainable culture.
I’m a published author. I’ve got a dog, a daughter, a husband, and a mortgage. Humans revere me for my talent for baking and plants fear me for my talent for overwatering. I enjoy biking, reading, Netflix, and doing hard things.
My journey: I grew up in the tiny town of Amsterdam, NY, where my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents had lived before me. My mother a teacher and my father a plumber, my small-town upbringing was spent playing with family/friends, singing in whatever show we were performing at school, and flipping home fries at the local diner.
With a talent for writing and never afraid to get in front of a crowd, I grew up thinking I wanted to be a journalist (the next Katie Couric to be exact) and studied communications at Ithaca College. After moving home and working in retail the summer after college, the drive to escape won over professional dreams, and I took a job in Washington, DC at a nonprofit for a whopping $27K per year. While my parents wondered how I would afford groceries, I packed my bags and said goodbye to NY.
After a few years working both my full-time nonprofit job and a part time job coaching ice-skating to make ends meet, I was eager to earn more. I landed at The George Washington University where I found working in higher ed to be comfortable, stable, and often fun purely by being on a college campus. Thinking I’d make a career out of it I cashed in on my employee tuition benefit and earned a master’s degree in higher education administration. Around the same time I met my husband, who commissioned as an attorney for the Air Force. I quit my job at GW and hoped for the best in whatever towns the Air Force assigned. Indeed, experience in higher ed served me well, and I was able to quickly land jobs at East Carolina University in North Carolina and Antioch College in Ohio.
Antioch proved to be a once-in-a-career experience in what I call start-up higher ed. The college had a long legacy as a thriving progressive institution, but after struggling with poor management and low enrollment, shocked many alumni by announcing its closure in 2008. Alas, passionate alumni rallied, bought the campus back, and set out to re-open as an new liberal arts college on the original 1850 campus. I was part of a gritty bare-bones crew daring to attempt to reopen a malnourished college campus, recruit students to said campus, and earn accreditation. I got to experience what it was like when barriers of bureaucracy were removed (or ignored) while a commitment to social justice and reinvention reigned supreme. It was inspiring, thrilling, and the reason I knew I’d never return to traditional halls of higher education again.
Our next military move returned me to Washington, DC, the homeland of traditional higher education and stuffy bureaucratic institutions. Wanting to avoid those institutions and have greater flexibility for my family, in 2014 I launched my consultancy, MK Fundraising Solutions. Consulting enabled me to work with a wide range of organizations, missions, and people, satisfying my appetite for creative thinking and problem-solving, but often dogging my lenses of social justice. There was a particular period when I worked simultaneously on a big-name gala that easily raised $1.2M, but $600K went to event expenses and the rest barely covered the organization’s executive salaries, while another client, who provided critical afterschool learning services, hustled and begged for the $500K they needed to move out of a church basement and into a more dignified space for the children and families they served. I was deeply disturbed by this disparity and questioning my role in perpetuating this unfair ecosystem.
By 2019, I found myself increasingly frustrated with the status quo of the philanthropic sector, seeing patterns of disparity in how money moved, and feeling a sense of deep exhaustion from the leaders I served as they navigated the shark-infested waters of fundraising. I became increasingly curious about my role in perpetuating and ending unfair and oppressive systems and began a learning journey that would result in my book, How to Make the Matriarchy: The Power and Promise of Prioritizing Women. Sensing my love for leadership had a place in the future of my work, I also began training as a certified professional coach with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. In 2020, just five weeks before the coronavirus pandemic would sweep the US, I also began serving as the Interim President & CEO for Doorways, overseeing a team of 50 professionals dedicated to serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Working on these three things simultaneously throughout 2020 was both exhilarating and exhausting but brings me to where I am today: resolved to support brave leaders who do hard things, to be a participant in changing oppressive systems, and to teach and embody restorative leadership as a way of living.
Change is rooted in truth. Clients consistently thank me for my candor- it's just who I am.
Change takes courage. Together, we'll cultivate your courage to put humanity on a better path.
Change shouldn't be a lonely venture. Together, we can amplify change in the world.
Fun fact: I hate free stuff. I'd rather give the gift of shared time making your day better! Join my mailing list, and as a thanks, I'll land in your inbox with a three minute exercise to create calm and get you to better.