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Mary Verstraete, PCC

President, Leadership Consultant and Coach


With more than 30 years’ experience in leadership development, training, and consulting, Mary’s focus is developing leaders of significant influence and shaping professional coach training programs to deliver effective, lasting impact.

In 2007, Mary cofounded the Center for Coaching Excellence (CCE), an organization that provides International Coach Federation-approved coach training and workshops throughout the United States. In her current role as President of CCE, Mary continues to expand coaching into diverse industries by developing customized training used in companies such as ExxonMobil, Fairview Health Systems, and MJ Senior Housing.

In addition to her work at CCE, she is a leadership consultant and coach who works with clients in the St. Paul-Minneapolis metro area and around the U.S.

Mary is the author of Conversational Leadership©, Essential Coach Training for Leaders©, Advanced Coach Training©, LifeMap for Focused Living©, and Communication Matters©. She created and developed the Convergence Leadership Process©, used and valued by hundreds of leaders.

 Earlier in her career, Mary served as Executive Pastor in the nonprofit sector—overseeing staff development during a time of intense growth and organizational change at Eagle Brook Church, which currently serves an average of 40,000+ people each week across several Twin Cities campuses. 

She earned a B.S. degree in Organizational Administration from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, Minnesota. She is an ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and holds additional certifications as a Level 1 Gallup StrengthsFinder Coach, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Instrument (MBTI) Administrator, Brand Tool Box® Brand Alignment Facilitator, Certified ScrumMaster and Scrum Product Owner, Leadership Agility® 360 Coach, and Conversational Intelligence® Coach with a concentration in the neuroscience of communication.

Check out the following services that Mary personally offers at

Leadership Coaching

Designing Your Distinct Legacy. A four step Convergence Leadership Coaching Process©, with high confidentiality, measurable outcomes, and does not require significant amounts of time for the busy leader.

Analyze–We work together to analyze your strengths, abilities, personality preferences, and leadership characteristics. We explore and determine core values, life mission and vision, then generate convergence of these areas into your leadership.

Apply–We engage convergence by maximizing your capacity to lead with more intentionality, greater authenticity, and increased significance, expanding your distinct leadership influence and legacy.

Execute–We strategically execute your leadership convergence and create cultures of communication effectiveness, synergy, and intrinsic employee engagement built on authenticity and trust. 

Support–Opportunities are created to support your continued leadership optimization, measurable outcomes, and benchmarks for leveraging your leadership.

Business Coaching and Consulting

Intrinsic Employee Development 

It's safe to say that more “team-building days” aren't going to remedy any lack of employee engagement. The answer to consistent engagement in today's agile work environment often requires support for the employee.

Coaching provides valuable support by offering a confidential, safe environment for employees to maneuver through challenges, develop personally and professionally, and cultivate the ability to function within an organization with a high degree of intrinsic self-determination.

Culture Workshops

Workshops are designed to establish cultures of communication effectiveness, synergistic teams, and strong employee engagement—all built on the foundation of trust that contributes to organizational legacy.

The workshops are a companion to employee coaching and are customized to meet your organization's needs and are always presented within the context of the organization's mission and values.

  • Developing Synergistic Cultures

  • Creating Strength-Based Teams

  • Establishing Teams Built Upon Trust

  • Generating Employee Engagement & Loyalty

  • Conversational Leadership©

  • Mastering Communication Excellence

Contact Mary at 612-246-4787 or

Joe Denner

Senior Advisor, Executive Coach, Consultant and Coach Trainer


Joe partners with leaders to increase their personal effectiveness and efficiency, helping them create transformational, sustainable leadership development within their culture. With over 15 years of leadership experience in finance, accounting, operations and human resources, Joe brings a wealth of knowledge relating to the development of human capital for positive, profitable, and sustainable growth. In his most recent position with Microdynamics Group, he succeeded in promoting operational excellence and quality service with a 99% quality and on-time delivery rating while Vice President of Plant Operations.

Annie Perdue-Olson, MA

Senior Advisor, Leadership Strategist, and Trainer


Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the challenges that sidetrack their mission. With over 17 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, she shows leaders the way through people problems and messy team dynamics to work better together.

She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership with an emphasis in organization development from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

The focus of her work is to engage leaders in thoughtful conversations through training sessions, strategizing leadership challenges in a six-week accelerated coaching process, and facilitating strategic conversations to help groups and teams prioritize, vision and plan through growth and challenges.  

Contact Annie for more information on:

  • Training Programs

  • Accelerated Coaching

  • Strategic Facilitation

Annie also offers Activate sessions for team building and conference breakouts:

  • The Dance of Communication

  • Managing Expectations Through Change

  • Navigating Conflict Differences

  • Leveraging Moments of Brilliance

  • Coaching Skills in Tough Conversations

  • Goal Setting in Nonprofits

  • Boost Team Retention

For more information contact Annie at:

The Leading Better Together Company

Rick Raiford

Senior Advisor and Conversational Leadership Trainer


Rick Raiford has spent his entire career in the field of investment management. His career began as a registered financial advisor with Phillips Capital Management in Greensboro, NC. Rick transitioned to Wachovia Wealth Management (Wells Fargo Private Bank) in 2006 where he worked as an investment manager, responsible for actively managing over $200 million in assets. As an investment manager, Rick was responsible for establishing investment policy statements which outline the investment allocation and strategy for each client. Rick also was responsible for the active and ongoing management of the investment portfolios, and regularly communicated with clients about investment performance and market/economic news and outlooks. In addition to his career as an investment professional, Rick has served on the board of directors for several non-profit organizations, and one for-profit corporation. The non-profits include Men Of Vision & Excellence (M.O.V.E.) (Co-Founder, Vice President), Restoration Place Ministries (Former Chairman), Cornerstone Charter Academy Athletic Committee (Former Chairman), and Daystar Church (Trustee). The for-profit corporation is the Center for Coaching Excellence, which is a leadership development organization based in Minneapolis, MN.

Rick has lived in Greensboro for the past 19 years. Rick is married to Amber Raiford, and has six children; Caleb, Camryn, Avery, Evan, Landry, and Levi. Rick enjoys watching, participating, and coaching a variety of sports, spending time with his family, and serving as Executive Pastor at Daystar Church.

Carissa Gay

Leadership Coach and Coach Trainer


Carissa’s career spans 20 years in non-profit, academic, and corporate leadership roles, all focused on coaching and training high-impact leaders. In the non-profit world, she developed programs to help government, business, and educational leaders improve their communication skills and create a strong organizational culture. From there she took a role in an EdTech company, becoming trainer and manager for a national team of coaches specializing in e-learning and cost-effective degree completion.

In 2017 she founded Courageous Leaders, a coaching and training organization specializing in leadership and career development, helping impact-minded professionals identify their personal brand and expand their leadership opportunities. She is the current President of the San Antonio Chapter of the International Coach Federation and also serves as the Southeast regional trainer for Center for Coaching Excellence, training managers and leaders in the conversational coaching skills that produce high-performing teams.

Carissa holds degrees in English and Christian Education, and a Master's in Counseling. She is an ICF Professional Certified Coach and completed additional certifications in emotional intelligence, career management, and neuroscience, all part of her mission to equip leaders of vision, courage, and significant impact.

Contact Carissa for more information on:

Leadership Coaching

  • Leadership Development–Helping high-potential employees identify and deploy their leadership brand for maximum effectiveness

  • Life Map©–Create a meaningful career and life aligned with your values and goals 

  • Communication Dynamics–Become the leader others want to follow

Organizational Training

  • Conversation Matters!©

  • Strengths-Based Leadership

  • Increasing Team Capacity and Resilience

Courageous Leaders



Jim Reklis

Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

Jim Reklis challenges leaders to become authentic and empowering at the intersection of people, purpose, and performance. A skillful leader and communicator, he inspires leaders and teams to actualize potential in themselves and others.

Jim began his own signature business, Reklis Coaching and Consulting, with a vision to maximize leaders’ potential for lasting influence. Drawing from his 30+ years in leadership and training in non-profits and churches in the US and internationally,  Jim's experience includes work as a consultant and coach for entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Jim has a Master of Leadership, holds a professional coach certification, trains professional coaches with the Center for Coaching Excellence and has also served as an associate trainer with John Maxwell's Equip International.

Executive Coaching and Consulting

  • Executive Coaching and Consulting to maximize executive influence

    • Lead Organizational Change

    • Maximize Strengths, Minimize or Eliminate Time and Energy Drainers

    • Personal Growth, Learning, and Development

    • Leadership Lift (Growing Leaders Expand the Potential of the Organization)

    • Avoid Leadership Ruts, Stagnation, and Burn-Out

    • Mobilize the Team with Clarified Vision, Passion, and Values

    • Provide insights to create forward momentum and positive results at all levels of leadership and management

Strengths-Based Team Building

  • Discover, engage, and maximize team member’s strengths, leadership, and contributions

  • Team Building Workshops and Exercises C

  • Certified Predictive Index Practitioner, Certified DISC Assessor, Certified Effectiveness Coach, and Strengths Finder proficient. engaging and maximizing team member’s strengths, leadership, and contributions for empowered teams that achieve more together

Organizational Strategy and Planning

  • Using the Smart Plan 360™Assessment, we help organizations take the leap from what is now, to what is next.  We identify blind spots to three key inhibitors to growth then provide a runway for strategic improvements that accelerate growth.


  • A life-long speaker, Jim provides insight with actionable takeaways in Keynotes, Workshops, Webinars, Moderator, and Panelist. View eSpeakers Page here.

Reklis Coaching and Consulting

For more information contact Jim at 919.451.5502

Cathy Alford

Executive Coach, Consultant, and Coach Trainer

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Cathy is a recognized leader and former corporate trainer trainer who has great passion for helping others find their uniqueness through self-discovery and personal development. She has received numerous awards for outstanding leadership. Through a variety of personal and professional life experiences as well as continued education, she brings a down-to-earth and practical approach to adult learning and self-discovery. Her passion is to see individuals intentionally using their strengths and teams more actively engaged through team development.

She is a part of the Columbus Coaching Collaborative in Columbus, Georgia, a group of ICF coaches who provide executive coaching as well as training and development. Cathy previously served as adjunct professor, teaching coach training in the Master of Science Organizational Leadership program at Columbus State University.

Cathy has a Masters in Management from Regent University, is an Executive Coach, an ICF credentialed coach, Gallup® Certified StrengthFinder Coach, and a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Coach.

Contact Cathy at 706.888.3000

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Heather Verstraete

Consultant, Coach, Speaker, and Trainer

Heather is an accomplished educator and professional coach with more than 20 years in education and 10 years in coaching. She has a unique and authentic ability to facilitate an environment for others to learn, develop, and achieve excellence. 

In education, Heather has collaborated with school district departments, provided training, facilitated district partnerships and program development, worked with students as a classroom teacher, and served as a peer coach.  

Learning in today's classrooms requires students to understand changing dynamics.

She works with educators to:

  • Help guide students towards academic advancement by targeting areas of need and nurturing individual talents and abilities. 

  • Create classroom environments that help students grasp changing dynamics.

  • Develop a tailored approach to each student in areas such as self-awareness, motivation, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, organizational skills, and study habits.

Heather holds a Bachelors of Elementary Education and Teaching from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN, a Masters of Education–Educational Leadership from Concordia University in St. Paul, and an Ed.D in Leadership from St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN.

She serves on the advisory board of My Sister's Keeper in Atlanta Georgia. The foundation is dedicated to equipping and empowering a diverse community of women in their educational pursuits and goals, acquisition of life skills, and personal and professional development.

For more information on Educational Coaching and Consulting, Training, and Speaking, contact Heather at 612-209-9152.

My growth from the training gave me confidence to coach in challenging workplace situations. The training was very thorough, with personalized attention that allowed me to absorb the coaching concepts and skills, apply them to my coaching context, practice the skills, and receive feedback.

Jay Baumgardner
Leadership Coach