Letter from the President: We Are Headed to the Mountaintop

We Are Headed to the Mountaintop

Although the temperature outside at the time of this writing would belie this truth, we are into the Fall and the last few months of the year. Your ICFTN Board has worked this year to bring you great programming, engage members through volunteerism and networking and promote our profession within the community. Our focus has been on you, the member, and the importance you place on professional development. Throughout the year our programs have been dedicated to the ICF core competencies critical to our success as coaches. 

In November we will welcome Mark Wallace, PhD., Dean, The Graduate School at Vanderbilt University, and Professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences, Psychology and Psychiatry in the discussion of Neuroscience and Active Listening. The first part of the presentation will focus on describing how multisensory interactions shape our view of the world (using some compelling illusions as examples) and highlight some of the underlying brain processes that support effective listening. The second part of the talk will focus on how our multisensory brain can be changed through training, and how such brain plasticity can be directed to improve cognitive abilities and executive function of both coaches and those they coach.

At our final program for 2019 in December we will utilize the tremendous talent and experience in the room and expand our collective knowledge through table topics facilitated by peers. We will open the Gift of Coaching in time for the holidays. Join your peers to share and learn on topics including:

  • The Agreement

  • Assessments

  • Presence

  • Unique Business Development Practices

  • Social Media

We are all better and more accomplished coaches because of the network we share through ICFTN. See you on November 8 and December 13. 

P.S. The December meeting will also include our annual chapter awards. Pam Brown, Past President notes, "During a recent discussion about the Call for ICFTN Award Nominations, someone asked, 'If we don’t believe in our profession enough to nominate deserving coaches, how can we expect businesses and individuals to prioritize coaching?' It’s a thought-provoking question." ICF-TN believes in recognizing coaches, as well as corporations that support coaching, so please nominate deserving ICF-TN Members and Coach-supporting Organizations by filling out a nomination form. Nominations are open through October 31. Read more about the various awards and how to nominate by clicking here.

Donna Yurdin, ICFTN President

Donna Yurdin

Spotlight: Leonora Williamson, ACC

Leonora Williamon1 - Where are you from, and how did you choose to live in Middle Tennessee?

I was born in London, attended elementary school in NYC, and then my parents moved to Maine, where they still live, so I claim it as home. That said, I have lived in 8 countries, speak 5 languages and carry 2 passports! I moved to Chattanooga 10 years ago and then to Nashville 2 years ago. I came to Nashville for a job that didn’t work out, but I stayed because I love it and I’m pretty sure I’ll never leave. It’s my favorite place I’ve ever lived!

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

I have done many things in my career, and decided to become a coach because the thread that has linked every experience I have had is a love of people.

Out of undergrad at Princeton I was an investment banker in New York and Chile, and out of business school at Harvard, I was a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. I then worked for Estee Lauder in NYC and London for many years, all that time under the MAC brand. My last job there had oversight of the international division, hundreds of people in 60 countries. Talk about an opportunity to meet different people where they are! 

I then moved to Chattanooga and became a Mom, and stepped away from full-time work for a few years, although I did a lot of volunteer work, particularly with the Creative Discovery Museum where I served as Board Chair, and also co-founded an angel investment fund with 5 other women. After moving to Nashville for a job from which I was fired after 4 months, I spent almost a year in discernment about what I truly wanted to do. At the end of that period, I knew with total certainty that coaching was in my heart, and a year ago in September I enrolled in Newfield Network’s Certified Coach Training program. I now have my ICF ACC certification - I received it on September 24, 2019, one year to the day after starting my certified coach training at Newfield Network. Best decision ever!

3 - How did you choose your specialty area?

I work with corporate clients because that is what I know. I have been an employee, a boss, an investor, a board member, an owner….I’ve worn almost every hat related to a company. I know first-hand that a great leader engenders a great culture, and a great culture improves life for everyone who works in a company. By working with leaders to be their best selves, coaches have the opportunity to impact the lives of many. I can’t imagine a greater privilege – or responsibility.

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

Being fired from the job that brought me to Nashville really hurt. That experience plunged me into a period of despair and profound self-doubt.  I often told people that if I were a house, I would have been stripped to my studs during that period. I felt totally exposed and as if the whole world could see right through me. But I recognized – even in my darkest moments – that the only way to build a dream house is to take it down to the studs. So I did that. I sat in uncertainty and asked myself what gift I truly am to the world, and how I could leverage that to its greatest potential.  I’ll always be grateful to those who sat in that dark uncertainty with me, including wonder-coaches Marty Raphael, Ondine Norman, and ICFTN’s own Terry Humphrey.

Amazingly, my young coaching business is taking off. My client roster got full much faster than I anticipated, and I am transitioning from having a coaching practice to building a coaching and consulting company that exist to bring out the best in people and teams. For me, this is the most rewarding work in the world. And bringing in some of the most talented people I know to help build this business? Unprecedented joy and fulfillment, despite the scary moments that inevitably accompany entrepreneurship!

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

I absolutely love to cook and almost left the business world to attend culinary school. My favorite gift to those I love is a dinner party or a meal dropped off at home. I’m especially good at lobster rolls (Maine!) and salads. Also, I spend my Tuesdays at Vanderbilt University as a Lecturer teaching Negotiations to undergraduates in the business minor.  Most fun, rewarding “side hustle” ever!

6 - How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I am a single Mom with two daughters, 9 and 11. They attend the University School of Nashville, a place I love and volunteer significant amounts of time. The main reason I love the school so much is that my girls are so happy there, and those two are my favorite humans on the planet. I often tell them, “I love you because you’re mine but I like you because you’re you.” And all 3 of us dote on our beautiful white Golden Retriever, Scout.

Leonora Williamson, ACC

photo credit: Mary Craven Dawkins