Executive Coaching in Crisis and in the Every Day

Executive Coaching in Crisis and in the Every Day
By Sally Coates, Sally H. Coates Consulting

Uneasy is the head that wears the crown.
(Shakespeare, in Henry IV, Part 2, Act 3, scene 1, lines 26–31)

Now more than ever, in this time of crisis, multiple voices are prepared to give you their great advice… ‘heavy is definitely the head’. Blogs, news briefs, group emails, government policy briefs, all have suggestions for how you, the CEO/ED, should navigate these difficult times.

The noise can be overwhelming, particularly as you struggle to run your nonprofit agency, juggle programming, and appease stakeholders all at once. Staff, donors, grantors, the board, volunteers – who should be your priority?

An Executive Coach can be the silent partner to answer your questions about which road to take, which outside voice to listen to, which internal voice to hear and encourage you as you decide what to do. Coaches in the ‘every day’ also support long term Executive Directors in their drive to keep learning and maintain their passion for the mission and the work.

So, what is executive coaching; why is it important and is it worth the cost?
Coaching is a one-on-one relationship between an ED/CEO and a skilled, experienced coach who listens objectively to issues, questions and concerns, and frames them within the interests of your organization, best practices and standards. It goes beyond a leadership course or workshop; a coach can assess your concerns, programs and board or development issue – in crisis and in more stable times – to sort through the essentials of what needs to be accomplished. A coach facilitates professional development in current circumstances and supports growth to address long-term demands.

Many nonprofit leaders do not have the luxury of an executive coach. There is always the concern that requesting the support of a coach implies poor performance, lack of belief in your own ability, or lack of trust by the board. Yet in this Joan Garry article, Joan makes the compelling point that Roger Federer, best of the best in the tennis world, has a coach (or more) with him all the time. This does not indicate a lack of performance or confidence in any way! Another concern is the cost of a coach and using funds for staff development. A nonprofit board must consider the worth of such an expense and consider creative ideas about funding sources.

If the board is prepared to make the cost and time investment in an executive director, a coach can have a tremendous impact on both an organization and its leadership. A leader empowered with new skills and confidence is inevitably more effective and less stressed.

Impact Foundry maintains a list of nonprofit consultants and their ‘special expertise’ that is accessible here.

Many consultants are now offering their services pro-bono. Could you benefit from executive coaching? Now might be the time to find out.

Sally has 30 years’ experience as an Executive Director with a variety of nonprofit organizations. Her resume includes responsibilities of Board Chair, board member and executive management, as well as development, finance, accounting and treasury operations. Most recently she served as the Executive Director of the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program in San Francisco. Prior to that she was the Executive Director of Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of California, and Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Bay Area Affiliate. Her volunteer roles include Board Chair of Guide Dogs for the Blind, President of the Junior League of San Francisco, and Chair of the national board, Episcopal Communities Services of America.


Sublime Digital Marketing Group


About Ken

Ken Henderson is a seasoned entrepreneur and digital marketing professional, presently serving as the CEO of Sublime Digital Marketing Group, a respected marketing agency located in Rancho Cordova, California.


Boasting over two decades of industry experience, Ken has cultivated expertise in numerous facets of digital marketing, such as website design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), copywriting, communication, CRM systems, and advertising on platforms like Facebook and Google. As a certified Google Partner and Zoho Partner, Ken’s knowledge is both extensive and cutting-edge.


Alongside his marketing abilities, Ken has delved into automation and artificial intelligence applications, integrating them into his collaborations with businesses and non-profits. His work with a wide array of clients, including non-profits, law firms, property managers, political campaigns, private schools, and small to medium businesses, has aided them in achieving their marketing goals.


Beyond his business accomplishments, Ken is an active community leader. He sits on the board of the Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce, contributing to the shaping of the region’s economic outlook, and is also a special advisor to MLK365, a group dedicated to making positive impact in communities. Moreover, he is a graduate of the prestigious Rancho Cordova Leadership Program and also a Certified GENEIUS, attesting to his remarkable leadership qualities.


Ken’s speaking engagements provide valuable insights into digital marketing, automation, and artificial intelligence and creative finance for businesses. His goal is to encourage others to embrace innovative marketing strategies and utilize technology for business growth.


Social Venture Partners


About Brad

Brad brings over 20 years of executive leadership in both the for-profit and non-profit sector. As a technology entrepreneur, he has helped to launch several enterprise software startups, one of which he led as Co-Founder and Vice President from 2002 through to its exit in 2016. He brings a people-centered style of leadership that leads to healthy organizational culture. He enjoys developing systems, strategy, and structure that set the foundation for organizations to scale and grow. Brad is considered a purpose-driven person and always seeks to “start with why” in everything he gets involved with. 
Beyond the enterprise technology roles he’s held, Brad was also instrumental in launching several community-based social entrepreneurship endeavors. He is the founder of the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank, Orangevale Food Bank Farm, HART of Orangevale and Fair Oaks, and the Big Day of Service. He also served as President of the Orangevale Chamber of Commerce from 2018-2022 where his impact led to a re-energized business and nonprofit membership community. Under his leadership, the Chamber secured $10M funding from SACOG for Greenback Lane streetscape improvements, 3x membership growth, 5x budget growth, formation of the Orangevale Community Council, and a more vibrant culture throughout the community. Brad currently serves on the boards of several other nonprofit organizations in the Capital Region. 
Brad currently serves as the Executive Director for Social Venture Partners of Sacramento, an organization seeking to build nonprofit connections and capacity by bringing together leaders from the business and nonprofit community. He oversees partnership growth strategy, daily operations, portfolio engagement, and major events such as the annual Fast Pitch social innovation program.
In 2018, Brad and family also launched a 10-acre u-pick flower farm called Heirloom Acres Farm. Thousands of people visit their farm all summerlong for flower u-pick events, and they also host a holiday barn market and have Christmas trees available in December. 
Brad’s superpower and life mission is about bringing people together for a purpose. He believes our community will be stronger when leaders are connected and engaged. 




About Debbie

Debbie is the founder and Executive Director of Health Education Council. Her two primary areas of expertise are cross-sector coalition building and reducing health disparities in diverse low-income communities.




About Michelle

Michelle Odell is the Director of Public Affairs for Kaiser Permanente in South Sacramento, where she oversees all aspects of Public Affairs including community relations, government relations; community health and community benefit planning; and internal and external communications, including media relations.

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Kristi Rolak is Sales Director in Sacramento for One Workplace, a full service commercial interior furnishings company headquartered in Santa Clara and serving greater Sacramento.