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Sara Thompson

Executive Coach

 

I partner with my clients to recognize leadership potential, make meaningful shifts in their lives, and experience greater levels of success, purpose, and joy.

Philosophy
Bringing 20 years of experience in business and higher education, Sara has had great success in coaching mid-level directors to c-suite executives in corporate, higher education, non-profit, and entrepreneurship fields. She believes there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leading – that growth comes from leading as your authentic self and learning how to have courageous conversations. Building trust among high-performers, creating bold vision, utilizing and appreciating diverse perspectives, practicing effective interpersonal and team communication, and navigating conflict – these are all areas in which she supports clients to help them achieve success and joy in their personal and professional lives.
Background
Growing up in a small village in Illinois, with a population of 838, Sara learned early the importance of creating a culture of safety, integrity, and trust in business. She observed what it took to run a family business and the importance of getting the guidance, strategies, and tools needed to do so while at the same time living a joyful life. She learned all of this from an unexpected coach – her Dad, a schoolteacher turned successful entrepreneur. Sara took this experience with her to the University of Illinois to earn a degree in business administration.
After college Sara was offered a job at Arthur Andersen LLP, a Big Five accounting firm and one of the world’s largest multinational businesses. It was a dream entry-level job for a new college graduate. She had found the pearl in her oyster – life was good. Yet, Sara found herself not fulfilled - looking at her managers, she could not see herself doing what they were doing, even though that was where she was headed. So, she began soul searching, even taking vacation time from this coveted corporate gig to facilitate leadership programs for high school students. She would find herself thinking, “Why am I not doing this leadership work full time?” Sara made the bold move to leave Arthur Anderson. In retrospect, this was the beginning of a number of courageous choices where Sara relied on her inner knowing to guide her on her path to greater levels of meaning and fulfillment.
She found herself journeying back to the University of Illinois where she began her second entry-level job with a new leadership program on campus that was operating in a start-up mode. She was part of a small, creative, hard-working team that in a few short years grew the new program from a small campus department to a full-fledged academic center – an entrepreneurial achievement. In fact, the center gained such a reputation that a generous alumnus was more than happy to contribute a million dollars and help it grow even more. Within five years, Sara became the Director of the center.
Her inner voice called for change once again. She chose to move west to be closer to the natural surroundings she had come to love in her travels. She took with her the experience she held dearest to her heart - the joy she and her Illinois team felt while working hard and achieving great success. She also took with her a master’s degree in human resource development.
Sara went on to earn a doctorate in higher education leadership from Colorado State University and completed multiple certification programs in spiritual psychology at the University of Santa Monica. She did this while serving as a faculty member at Claremont McKenna College. Affiliated with the Kravis Leadership Institute - one of the nation’s leading institutes for leadership research, theory, and practice - she teaches courses in leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, and career readiness competencies.
With a coaching certification through the International Coaching Federation, Sara now spends most of her time as an executive coach and leadership consultant. She brings a multi-disciplinary approach to her clients with her degrees in business, human resources, higher education leadership, and spiritual psychology combined with her work experiences. Sara understands first-hand the successes and failures of the work world – and believes that what sustains you through both is embracing the challenge, focusing on learning, being compassionate and humble while staying true to your authentic self and always finding the joy.
The heart of Sara’s coaching is that she inspires possibility while being realistic and grounded. She sees the gifts and talents in her clients when they struggle to see them themselves. She builds trust through empathy and emanates a magnetic joy that brings forward qualities of curiosity, willingness, and forgiveness. When engaging with others, she values all people and perspectives, as she is inclusive and brings people together to create meaningful results. Sara speaks words that are honest, wise, and thoughtful; her encouragement moves people into greater action and greater loving.
A Midwesterner transport, Sara has fallen in love with Los Angeles where it never gets below 32 degrees and her lantana bloom all year long. She enjoys cycling on Saturdays and playing with Gracie most any day.
A lover of the wilderness and all that is nature, Sara skies in the winter and hikes and whitewater rafts in the summer. Co-leading a whitewater rafting trip for women has become a non-negotiable calendar entry each summer for Sara.
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