In 2013, my then-employer introduced me to coaching. Coaching posits that the person closest to a given problem is closest to its solution, and this caught my attention. In nonprofit and education settings, this notion runs counter to what many direct service providers believe (i.e., that service providers know best, and that those accessing services should just follow their directions without question). The idea that my clients intrinsically know what’s best resonated deeply with my previous training in asset-based youth development and culturally responsive education. I received ongoing coaching training, and had the chance to coach young people one-on-one and in group settings. Soon, I was developing coaching curriculum and trainings for the youth programs I was running, as well as for my colleagues’ programs.

The opportunity to coach young people facing significant challenges pushed and stretched me, and the act of coaching itself felt like coming home. Finally, after 10 years of running after school programs, internship programs, and employment programs; after volunteering and mentoring; after fielding countless middle-of-the-night phone calls from friends and being their go-to person for deep listening, curious questions, empathy, and accountability; I discovered that coaching combines my skills and talents into a singular practice that I simply love. Coaching others, while challenging and intense as it may be, doesn’t feel like work. In the words of the poet Mayda del Valle, “It’s not occupation or a vocation; it’s a calling – and I’m replying.”

Coaching FAQs:

What is coaching?

Coaching is a powerful, ongoing relationship that helps you focus and realize your visions and goals. A coach will give you the tools and support to remove obstacles and facilitate change.

What are some reasons people hire a coach?

  • to plan a career move

  • to make your present job more fulfilling

  • to plan your life based on what matters most to you

  • to get more organized

  • to create more balance in your life

  • to focus your energy to plan or finish a project

  • to increase your effectiveness in your professional life

  • to work with your colleagues to increase productivity and effectiveness

  • to make your life more fulfilling

  • to start a business

  • to get motivated

  • to increase your income

How is coaching done?

Typically, individual coaching is done by telephone or in person, in an hour-long session. I like to schedule at least 8 of these sessions (weekly or biweekly), so that a client can begin to make progress on what matters to them, since change doesn’t happen overnight!

Is coaching therapy?

Nope, coaching is not therapy. Coaching focuses on strategic planning and personal growth and does not attempt to heal emotional trauma. My perspective is that therapy tends to start with discussing past events (particularly those that caused trauma or grief), in service of understanding one’s current situation, while coaching starts with what’s happening right now, in service of achieving future goals. Coaches regularly refer clients to other professionals for issues that are better suited to a therapeutic relationship.

What is a typical session like?

Coaching is conversational, client-led, and action-oriented. The hallmark of coaching is self-responsibility: the client sets the agenda for the session and the coach follows that agenda. You can expect me to offer powerful, clarifying questions and focused, fine-tuned planning tools and strategies for change. I’ll help you develop your next steps, and I’ll offer to hold you accountable for them. I enjoy coaching because it’s so dynamic, fluid, and often, surprising! Also, 100% of my coaching sessions have included laughter, so, be prepared for that.

Okay, but what does it cost?

I’m currently charging $150 per session, with an eight-session minimum. I will always offer a free 60-minute strategy session (in-person or over the phone) so we can explore the overlap between what I’m offering and what you’re seeking. If cost is an issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me; I’m committed to offering a limited number of need-based spots to my community.

What’s the impact of coaching?

Being coached by others has been a profound experience for me. Through coaching, I’ve noticed patterns in my behavior, uncovered implicit beliefs, and connected with my core values. Skilled coaches have helped me identify meaningful goals and they’ve held me accountable for taking action towards reaching those goals, while encouraging and challenging me along the way. Were it not for coaching, I would never have taken the leap to go into business for myself as Alight; I’m deeply grateful for the ways coaching has transformed, and continues to transform, my life.