In the Spotlight: Benjamin Papa, J.D., M. Div.

Benjamin Papa1 - Where are you from, and how did you choose to live in Middle Tennessee?

I am from Knoxville and came to Nashville to go to college. I finished at Vanderbilt in 1995 and have been here ever since. 

2 - What is your professional background, and why did you become a coach?

I practiced law for 18 years, almost all in the area of family law with an emphasis on Collaborative Divorce. I became a Coach because I enjoyed helping people navigate and make good, grounded decisions and choices even in the midst of a great deal of conflict and complexity, but wanted to use those skills outside of the crisis context of divorce and in a role other than being someone's divorce attorney, which is limiting. 

3 - How did you choose your specialty area?

Leadership Coaching and Facilitation allows me to work with individual leaders and leadership teams on developing the "human" side of themselves in the context of their role as a business or organizational leader. I believe there is a lack of leadership in our culture right now, and I want to do what I can to support self-aware, high integrity, and resilient leaders. 

4 - What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career?

Since I am relatively new to coaching from practicing law, one of my current challenges is learning how to talk about how my background as a Collaborative Divorce attorney connects to my current work with leaders and teams. There is a clear connection there, but it's not always easy to explain in a 30 second elevator speech! 

The greatest reward of coaching is creating space for people to see things about themselves they have never seen before and then begin to move into a space of personal or professional development around what they are learning. Ultimately, it is about helping people access hope and joy. 

5 - What is something that most ICFTN members would be surprised to learn about you?

I had drinks with Julia Roberts (yes, the movie star!) when I was in law school.

6 - How do you enjoy spending your free time?

Reading, hiking, yoga, dinner with friends, and occasionally acting in plays.