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Susan Britton

Founder and President

Expert in leadership agility and career IQ; author of seven books with McGraw Hill and EMC; founder of conferences and Thought Leader Forums—Susan’s spunk and insights make her a transformational mentor to business leaders worldwide.

Her 20-year career in coaching includes several hundred hours of coach-specific training. Earning her first ICF coaching credential in 2007, she currently holds a MCC designation with International Coach Federation, as well as a Master NeuroPositive Coach credential from the Applied Neuroscience Institute (2014), and a certificate in Peak Performance Coaching from the Flow Genome Project in (2020). Currently completing an Executive Master in Change (EMC) degree with INSEAD, at the Fontainebleau, France campus, Susan is incorporating a systems psychodynamic perspective into her approach to coaching and change.

She has been stretched, encouraged, and influenced by respected thought leaders and mentors over the years—Patrick Williams, Judy Santos, Christopher McCluskey and Lynn Meinke while studying at Institute for Life Coach Training; Tony Pottle, formerly of NeuroLeadership Institute; Donald Johnson and William Larkin of Applied Neuroscience Institute; Julie Colwell of Evolutionary Power Institute; Jamie Wheal of Flow Genome Project.

Her passion for neuroscience permeates all, which led to her popular Red Zone | Blue Zone model. When in the Red Zone of fight-flight, we are compromised cognitively and relationally. When in the Blue Zone of calm-connect, we tap the mental-physical states necessary for flow and peak performance. As a trainer of coaches, she’s written hundreds of pages of coaching curriculum and delivered more than 5,000 hours of ICF-approved training. She knows what she’s doing, yet readily admits to not having all the answers. (None of us do!)

Previously, she was the Executive Director of Career Masters Institute, and also served for approximately seven years co-hosting the ICF Career Coaching Community of Practice. Prior to coaching, she worked in clinical mental health settings as a Music Therapist, applying her degree in Music Therapy from the University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music.

Her continued commitment: to share the coach-approach worldwide, changing work cultures from stress-packed and toxic to humane and inclusive. To that end, she loves spending her days working alongside courageous leaders and coaches who have the guts to try to get out of their own way, learn something new, experience life more consciously, and make a difference in the world.

James Beeman

Academies Coaching Instructor

As a leadership coach and trainer, James has 15+ years of experience in training, mentoring, advising, consulting, and coaching clients ranging from undergrad and graduate students to senior leaders at Fortune 500s who are looking to make a significant shift in their life and career. James earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in piano performance and theory, a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership with a 4.0, and holds the Master Certified Coach (MCC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

James began his career teaching music theory at the college level before shifting to advising, consulting, and coaching as an academic coach with an accelerated distance learning program located in San Antonio, TX. His leadership skills caught the eye of the executive team and he was rapidly promoted from an individual contributor to directing the team that managed 100 coaches who served around the world.

In early 2015 James made the leap from employee to entrepreneur and founded his own coaching company. He initially worked with young professionals, but quickly attracted the attention of executives and other leaders online who wanted support in transitioning to new roles or wanted to improve their ability to influence and lead the teams at their current place of employment.

Further, James volunteered for several years on the board of the International Coaching Federation San Antonio (ICFSA) as the President and was instrumental in rebuilding the chapter and partnering with the Association of Talent Development of San Antonio (ATDSA) and the San Antonio Human Resources Management Association (SAHRMA) to co-create signature events that delivered tremendous value to the chapter members and the community at large.

Currently, James is an adjunct coach trainer for The Academies, a registered mentor coach with ICF, and coaches leaders around the world who want to have more fun, flow, and fulfillment in their lives. He has completed extensive training, coaching, and mentoring under the direction of Dr. William Larkin (Harvard) and Dr. Donald Johnson (Yale) of the Applied Neuroscience Institute and often incorporates neuroscience research, positive psychology literature, and strengths theories into the inside-out work he does with clients who are in transition.

James resides in small-town North Carolina and is the proud dad of two kids (Clark and Charlotte) and one cat (Cheetah King). James has aspirations to complete a PhD in Organizational Leadership, become a published author, and contribute meaningfully to the pursuit of happiness for millions of souls around the world.

Stacy Duhon

Academies Coaching Instructor

Stacy is a leadership and career coach on a quest to support professionals to listen to the whisper within, own their power, and take action on their dreams so they can have a meaningful and fulfilled life. Whether clients seek to find their purpose, move in the direction of their passion, switch careers, have more work/life balance or simply want to feel more confident and comfortable in their own skin, working with Stacy they will gain the clarity they desire, the direction and guidance they want, the accountability they need and the encouragement that will have them take inspired action. She is a coach for Purpose, Inspiration, and Impact.

She is an expert at working with clients who, as she says, are ready to Listen to the Whisper – those who are ready to listen to that voice within that is speaking to them and telling them, rather begging them, to go after what they want – begging them to not settle on a life that is less than what they are here on the planet to live. Her coaching style is striking in its wisdom, clarity, and directness, balanced by an unmistakable Cajun radiance and charm provided by her Southwest Louisiana upbringing. She dances effortlessly between softness, warmth, and power, guiding her clients with a firm but gentle hand.

Stacy walks her own talk. In 2008, after 17 years in management, she left her successful biotechnology career to pursue her passion of being a professional coach. She was scared to leave her secure, lucrative, and enjoyable career but, at some point, she felt she was dying inside. She was filled with dread knowing that she was settling on life and there came a point when she could no longer ignore the whisper. She faced her fears, acted in the face of people telling her it was not practical and went after her dream.

Stacy now has her own coaching practice, is a coach trainer for The Academies and a registered mentor coach with the ICF.  She also coaches MBA students for the University of Washington, Foster School of Business.

She holds masters degrees in both statistics (from SMU) and coaching and consulting (from Leadership Institute of Seattle at Bastyr University). She is a graduate and affiliate of the rigorous and acclaimed, International Coach Federation-accredited coach training program, “Accomplishment Coaching” and served as a team lead/mentor coach for them for several years. She holds a PCC designation with the ICF.

Carissa Gay

Academies Coaching Instructor

Carissa Gay has dedicated her career to developing leaders. With over 20 years as a trainer, coach and curriculum designer, Carissa’s work spans non-profit, corporate and academic leadership roles, all focused on equipping high-impact leaders. An insatiable learner she’s completed Bachelor’s degrees in English and Christian Education, a Master’s in Counseling, a smattering of Organizational Development coursework, and the designation of Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the international Coach Federation (ICF).

Carissa began her career in the non-profit world, teaching communication courses for government, business, and nonprofit leaders. This training role took her to the world’s coldest capital, where she spent a few years skating among the ice sculptures and creating teacher education programs for the city of Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.

Back stateside she became an academic coach and advisor for an accelerated distance learning program in San Antonio, TX. This was her first official taste of coaching, and she was hooked! She progressed to a team lead role and soon after became coach trainer for the national team of academic coaches.

In 2017 Carissa launched her own coaching and training firm specializing in leadership development and effective communication. Her specialty is helping sidelined professionals become sought-out leaders. She also serves as Regional Trainer and Senior Mentor Coach for the Center for Coaching Excellence, equipping leaders in the conversational coaching skills that produce high-performing teams.

From 2019-2021 Carissa served as President of ICF San Antonio where she played a strategic role in increasing the awareness of coaching, spearheading partnerships with Joint Base San Antonio, Association of Change Management Professionals-Texas (ACMP) and Prospanica, and receiving an international award for membership growth.

Carissa currently serves an adjunct instructor with The Academies, a registered MCC mentor coach with the ICF, and a Conversation Matters!© organizational trainer. She has pursued extensive training in emotional intelligence, leadership dynamics, and career development, all part of her vision to equip leaders worldwide to live with purpose, courage, and significant impact.

Jennifer James

Academies Coaching Instructor

Jennifer is a coach, a professional development trainer, and a human resources expert. As a coach she specializes in leadership, executive, and career coaching. In any capacity she works in, her passion for helping others grow professionally shines through. During her career, she has acquired over 15 years of senior-level experience in operational management, human resources, and talent development.  Currently, in addition to serving as a coaching instructor for The Academies, she serves as Founder and Managing Director of Coaching Moments LLC, a coaching and consulting firm specializing in delivering services designed to help businesses effectively manage their human capital and individuals to reach their full potential.

Prior to owning her own business, Jennifer worked in higher education serving as a Regional Human Resources (HR) Manager responsible for supporting the HR needs of seven of Virginia’s Community Colleges.  Before serving as a higher education HR leader, she spent much of her career within the financial services industry serving in operational, human resources, and talent development leadership roles. In the role of Senior Vice President/Director of Learning and Development for a community bank, Jennifer worked closely with the bank’s executive management team to align talent development strategies with corporate goals and objectives. Additionally, she acted as lead facilitator/designer of the bank’s 12-month leadership development program that served to equip current and future leaders with essential management/leadership competencies.

Jennifer is certified as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the International Coaching Federation. She also holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) and a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) Certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration degree with a minor in Human Resources from Mary Baldwin University and her Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in Human Capital from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Additionally, she holds a postgraduate certificate in Community College Leadership from Old Dominion

Outside of work, she enjoys boating, traveling, baking, listening to music, and spending time with her family, friends, and beloved Miniature Schnauzer, Leo.

Edward Macdonald

Academies Coaching Instructor

Connection, clarity, and growth are what drive Edward’s passion for coaching. He loves seeing the impact of each coaching conversation, and exploring how universal coaching truths apply to completely different conversations, whether with a 13 year old student, a middle-aged executive, or a 90 year old retiree.

Edward has relentlessly pursued continued mastery of his craft of coaching for over a decade. He recently renewed his Master Coach Credential from the International Coaching Federation, having held the credential for three years, and has also completed the PCC marker training required to be an ICF Assessor.

He has trained with John Andrew Williams, MCC, of Coach Training EDU; Mary Verstraete, PCC, of The Center for Coaching Excellence; and Dr. William Larkin, PhD (Harvard) and Dr. Donald Johnson, PhD (Yale) of the Applied Neuroscience Institute. 

Edward has coached hundreds of clients, from students and young professionals to executives and seasoned entrepreneurs. He loves working with any clients who are willing to really dig deep and lean into the exciting unknown of major life transitions and transmuting trauma into perspective, wisdom, and growth. 

The application of neuroscience to life coaching is where Edward’s passion really lies. Understanding what is happening in the brain as we coach, as well as the patterns of thinking, feeling, and decision-making that we all experience makes coaching – and all of life – come more alive for him. 

Edward is a natural and gifted trainer and teacher, who excels at using examples, analogies, and word pictures to make complex concepts click. He is a passionate learner himself, and is always researching something new. He funnels this experience into his teaching approach, working hard to make new ideas accessible for his students, and is encouraging and understanding as he does so.

A serial entrepreneur and life-long Renaissance Man, Edward enjoys learning, building, developing, and maximizing just about anything, from old cast iron and cars to Shakespeare and painting to spreadsheets and organizational systems. He currently operates several businesses with his wife and life partner, Brittany, who is also an MCC coach.

He resides with Brittany and their daughter, Sophia and dog, Lexie in Colorado Springs, where he enjoys the food scene, as well as never-ending places to adventure in the mountains. 

Emmeline Whitcomb

Director of Operations

Emmeline’s passion for taming complexity has been evident throughout her life. As a child, she would tidy up disorganized candy-bar displays at the grocery check-out before she was even tall enough to see over the counter, and she was one of those kids who actually enjoyed organizing the family’s tupperware cabinets and mom’s walk-in closet. Fast forward to her career, after earning her BBA Degree in Marketing from SMU, she served as a project manager for a global market research firm, managing myriad details to deliver complex projects on-time and under-budget. As Director of Operations with The Academies, she thrives in being the ‘person behind the curtain’ who gives our community of coaches a seamless experience as they move through their coaching education programs. 

She looks for opportunities in every corner of The Academies to bring order and ease to create scalable business systems. Folders and functionality, simplicity and shortcuts, apps and zaps give her the ultimate joy in life!

Leigh Gauthier

Director, Growth & Academies Coaching Instructor

Leigh Gauthier has been coaching professionals to develop personally and professionally for over 15 years. With People Development, Learning, and Career Counseling roles spanning global organizations such as Accenture, STS Capital Partners, and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Leigh has had the privilege working with some of the world’s best and brightest talent including thousands of MBA students.

Her passion for learning and growing influences her coaching and she brings many tools, models, and frameworks to help guide and support clients through their whole work/life selves. This includes several professional certifications, such as a Certified Coach designation from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), the PCC designation from the International Coaching Federation (ICF),

an MBTI Accreditation from Psychometrics Canada, a Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC) through The Academies and most recently the 10x Certified Health Coach by MindValley. 

When Leigh is not coaching, she is learning something new. Her latest stretch goal includes learning how to play the drums. Thankfully, (for the neighbours) she is surrounded by trees in her residence at Madewillau in Haliburton, Ontario, Canada where she loves long walks and bike rides with her husband, meditation, and crushing her fitness goals.

She is always open to connecting and looks forward to seeing you in class and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/coachleigh/

Jessica Burdett

Director of Coaching Education, Academies Coaching Instructor

Before discovering coaching, Jessica wrote that her purpose was to “help people overcome obstacles and learn to see their challenges as opportunities to grow.” When she found a definition of coaching, she knew the direction she wanted to go!

Jessica coaches individuals and teams to be authentic, balanced, effective leaders in her private coaching practice. Historically, she has developed and facilitated training and leadership coaching programs for a Construction-Manufacturing startup and worked with a non-profit, developing and facilitating communication, leadership, and peacemaking training and coaching international teams in the US and Singapore. She gravitates toward work with startups and culture-driven organizations, and has worked closely with executives in Human Resources and Training, Culture and Organizational Development, and Learning and Leadership Development. 

She holds a B.S. in Psychology, is an ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and is certified as a Conscious Business Coach with BetterUp. She is often found researching developmental, personality, and positive psychology as a pastime, rooting her coaching in constant learning.

As the Director of Coaching Education at The Academies for Neuroscience Coaching, Inc., she drives strategic learning initiatives, serves as an Academies Instructor and Mentor Coach, and creates ongoing learning and connection opportunities for The Academies Alumni Community.

She is currently based in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and young daughter, but more often than not is found exploring the world. She has visited all 50 states and 17 countries, building a rich global community who have expanded her perspective and love of intensely flavorful foods. She loves to find the best coffeeshops, hike for a view, or sit in a rocking chair with a good Sci-fi novel.

Matthew Gardner

Coach Success Manager

From a very early age, Matthew has been fascinated by people. Not just talking to people, but really connecting with them and appreciating their uniqueness. This interest led to him studying Psychology and Anthropology. After graduating he was employed part time for 8 years as an online anthropology tutor. The training and experience he gained opened his eyes to working with diverse individuals and groups and opened a whole new world of opportunity for him in leadership, mentoring and coaching.

For the next 9 years, Matthew pursued a career in operations management in a multi-cultural environment where he led teams of various sizes, cultures and functions. Through this experience, Matthew was drawn to noticing the unique values, skills and strengths of the individuals within the team

He found fulfilment in helping each person in the team achieve their own career goals, realize their own unique talents and offer their best contribution to the team.

Matthew has always been attracted to entrepreneurial endeavours to supplement his income, pay for short courses and extend his experience. He sees entrepreneurship as a fundamental skill for our current generation, an attitude that is as valuable working for yourself or someone else. A mantra he has had throughout his life is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Matthew’s passion for people led to him studying Career coaching and Leadership and Executive coaching courses with The Academies. He is now in the final stages of applying for his ACC accreditation.

Matthew’s experience of studying with The Academies and his love for helping people achieve their goals led to him taking up a position as Coach Success Administrator at The Academies. To chat with him, email matthew@theacademies.com.

Outside of work, Matthew enjoys photography, travelling and good food.