Spotlight: Nina Morel, Dean of the College of Professional Studies, Lipscomb University

Nina Morel1 - Where are you from, and how did you choose to live in Middle Tennessee?

I grew up in Nashville (yes, a rare native Nashvillian!) and graduated from Hillsboro High School and Lipscomb University and lived in Green Hills most of my life. It has changed a lot, but I still love this community.

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

I have been a teacher, professor, and education leader most of my career. I have always been interested in professional development (my dissertation studied the use of technology in professional development) and as a school district administrator I was trained as an instructional coach. I was asked to create and lead a countywide instructional coaching initiative and our search for resources that were largely unavailable at the time led me and a colleague (Carla Cushman) to write a book on developing coaching programs. I came to Lipscomb soon after to create a masters program in instructional coaching and then moved to the College of Professional Studies where we created an ICF-accredited ACTP master’s program in coaching. I was entranced by coaching because it is the only method of professional development I have found that that supports active implementation of learning. It is also an important part of our online competency-based undergraduate programs that my College has created.

3 - How did you choose your specialty area?

I am a teacher and a higher education administrator—so coaching educators and others in higher education is a natural fit. I also coach school leaders and public administration leaders, as well as individuals in non-profits who work directly for boards.

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

I love program creation and implementation—this is most rewarding. The greatest challenge is prioritizing all the great opportunities that come my way in the areas of coaching, leadership, and competency-based education.

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

I don’t know if there are many surprises here—pretty much what you see is what you get!

6 - How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I love to read fiction and non-fiction leadership books. I also really enjoy travelling with my husband all over the US and abroad, with usually at least one international trip a year. In the last 5 years, I have travelled to Chile (twice), Bali, Singapore, France, England (3 times), Italy, and Denmark. Of course, the best thing to do with my free time is play with my 4 year old and 1 year old grandsons!

Nina Morel

Competent Coaches Are Courageous ... As Are Their Clients

As a member of the professional coaching community, you know we are guided by a set of competencies.  One aspect required of coaching competency is facilitating our client’s learning by creating awareness with the client and designing actions to apply the learning.  Have you considered how much courage it takes for your client to be successful in this?   Have you thought about how much courage is required of you?

Courage is necessary for learning to take place because it requires a person to look in the mirror and confront their own reality, face their critics and listen, seek feedback and listen, take action on their performance which often means moving outside their comfort zone.

Courage is asked of you, the coach, to speak truth to your client, role model accountability and change.  Without courage, you cannot make a difference.  You can’t ask your client to be courageous if you are not also.

So, what is courage?

When we peel back the onion about what courage requires, we discover it often means walking toward what you’d rather run from.  It means being vulnerable, perhaps admitting you don’t know everything, and that there is always more to learn. Having courage means connecting with self and others by lowering defensiveness, being present with your fear, feeling it, paying attention to it, noticing how it looks and feels in your body. Lack of courage is often felt as self-doubt and results in a retreat to the safe zone. “I was promoted by chance and I have no idea what to do now.”  When the client is not able to be courageous, what may show up in its place is fear.  Connecting with your fears is an act of courage.  Connecting with fearlessness is not, however, the same thing.  Fearlessness is courage being overused and the resulting behavior is “I was promoted by chance and even though I have no idea what to do now, I will fake it so no one will know.”  You may have heard that sentiment expressed by someone once or twice.

As the coach, you are able to be present with the client and recognize when fearlessness is taking over the courage necessary to lean in to learning and not retreat.  We can be the courage our clients need.

What do you think?  Is courage coachable?


What if you could reimagine your coaching practice?  How would you like to connect in new ways?  Your ICFTN Board is discussing the varied ways we can facilitate connection and professional development for chapter members. In April we began quarterly new member orientations. In June we will begin offering virtual professional development sessions in addition to the robust line up of live, face to face chapter meetings. This first session will be on the subject of Ethics. We have other ideas we are discussing but would like to hear from you about what else would make your membership in ICFTN valuable.

  • What do you feel you are missing? What are your searching for?

  • What are you being challenged to address in yourself? What new experiences do you need to have?

  • What new story could you tell about your work if you stepped outside the usual discourse?

Let me hear from you at [email protected].  We are anxious to deliver maximum value for your membership. 

Another way for you to provide feedback will be in the annual ICF coach survey. You will be receiving a link from ICF to a survey in May. PwC conducts this comprehensive survey of the coaching industry exploring topics including:

  • Industry size and revenue

  • The business and practice of coaching

  • Perspectives on industry trends, including technology, regulation and more

This research will yield insights that can help you grow your coaching business and understand where you fit into the marketplace, better understand the coaches in your community and make strategic decisions to contribute to the success of the Middle Tennessee coaching community. The research findings also help ICF lead the future of coaching, with data that informs resource allocation and provides clarity on how to best move the mission and vision of ICF forward.

Please look for the link and participate in this important research.

Donna Yurdin, ICFTN President

Donna Yurdin