Our Team

The Coach Initiative exists due to the time and dedication of many talented and dedicated individuals who believe in its mission, vision, values and impact, including our Founders, Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, Volunteer Coaches and other Volunteers. Read on to learn about our current team or click here to learn about our founders and our history.

Our Founders

Several years ago, Bobette Reeder, Donna Steinhorn and Guy Stickney had a vision of supporting not-for-profit initiatives through coaching. In 2006, they founded The Coach Initiative, a 501(c) (3) organization.

Reaching out to their networks, they asked a number of influential coaches to join them on its Founding Board and also enlisted the first volunteer coaches, and committed to provide coaching support to the first project, Stand Up for Kids. Their vision was transformed into reality. Within just a few months of its existence, The Coach Initiative had engaged dozens of coach volunteers!

Guy (2)Guy Stickney is the current President of The Coach Initiative and Founder/CEO of WizardryEvents, a company that has produced conferences all over the world for the past 20 years. Involved with the coaching community since 1995, he has produced 10 international conferences for the ICF and has worked with many other coaching-related organizations and institutions. Guy spent 21 years in the hotel business, with executive and regional responsibilities, and his hotel teams routinely won top honors for customer service and employee morale. He has also been a life and executive coach for the past 15 years. Guy’s passions include travel, golf, his family and “creating the WOW experience.” He lives with his wife of over 35 years in Tucson, Arizona, and they have three grown kids who they are very proud of. He and his wife Mindy now have their first grandchild and the world as they know it has now just got even better. A favorite quote: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” -Vivian Green Program Director

Bobette Reeder is a Master Certified Coach and a past president of the International Coach Federation (ICF). A coach since 1995, Bobette has had extensive and varied experience serving in the international coaching community. She was on the ICF Board of Directors for 10 years, served on several ICF conference teams in both the U.S. and Europe, and initiated and facilitated the organization’s Global Forum. She was the 2004 recipient of the ICF President’s Award and has been the focus of numerous media articles and interviews. Along with Donna and Guy, she is a co-founder of Conversation Among Masters.
Bobette has been happily married for 42 years (really!) and has two married children and four magical grandchildren, plus Murphy the wonder dog. Her personal and professional style are all about having fun and seeking the positive side in everything life brings. A favorite quote: “Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can” –Danny Kaye.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADonna Steinhorn is Past President of The Coach Initiative and also founder of Coaching to Success and co-founder of Conversation Among Masters. She is the former executive vice president for CoachVille and past dean of the Thomas Leonard Coaching School and was a 2005 recipient of the “t” award. She has been an active member of the ICF, serving on two ICF conference teams and several ICF committees. Donna is a founding member of the International Association for Coaching, a Board Member of the Transformational Leadership Council, and a core team member of TEDx Navesink. She is one of the few coaches who is certified by both the ICF and the IAC.
An executive, life and mentor coach, Donna has more than 30 years of corporate and business experience. With her multiple roles, she’s learned how crucial it is to embrace change and create inspiring, sustainable environments for success. Donna has two grown children and lives on the Jersey shore in a century-old carriage house with her husband of 41 years. A favorite quote: “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” -Ben Franklin

Laurie Milazzo has served as our dedicated Program Director since 2012. As such, Laurie is responsible for numerous essential activities and responsibilities that keep The Coach Initiative operating, from processing pro bono coach and nonprofit applications to matching organizations with the right coach to scheduling monthly board meetings and taking meeting minutes, to ensuring that feedback is collected after coaching engagements end. The success of The Coach Initiative would not be possible without Laurie’s dedication and commitment. Thank you, Laurie, for always keeping us on task and for being the reliable hub through which so many of The Coach Initiative’s endeavors flow.

Board of Directors

PHYLLIS HAYNES HEADSHOT 2015Phyllis Haynes is a Speaker, Trainer, Master of Ceremonies, award winning television personality, producer and former ABC Network News correspondent. Phyllis has motivated, trained and inspired thousands of people around the world and across the USA. She is currently the producer of projects for Studio1network.net.

Phyllis is a leading authority on bottom-line communications, building lasting business relationships, and getting results! Phyllis She is a partner and principal with Inter-Change Consultants and a specialist in communications including extensive knowledge on new communications issues and media application. She consults on cross-cultural issues for companies who wish to broaden their international exposure and understanding. Phyllis was invited by the European Union and the Hellenic Foundation to bring her work to the emerging marketplaces of Central and Eastern Europe. She also served as a professional specialist on the faculty of Emerson College in Boston. As a speaker, facilitator, trainer and moderator, Phyllis Haynes is in demand. Her knowledge of global media, new media technology and cross cultural communication encompasses over 20 years of experience in television. She is well known as the former co-host of WOR-TV’s “Straight Talk” and as a network correspondent for ABC’s “Evening News with Peter Jennings” and “Good Morning America.”

Phyllis holds an M.A. from New York University in Political Science with a concentration in Asian and Russian Affairs. She is fluent in French and has a strong background in Russian.

Joyce Odidison is a Conflict Analyst and Strategist, Workplace Wellness Expert, Certified Trainer, Coach, and  President of Interpersonal Wellness Services Inc. & Coaching Institute. Focusing on mid-career professionals, executives and their workplaces, her company provides Organizational Development services including: leadership coaching and training, respectful workplace and wellness programs, as well as interpersonal skills coaching and training, thus reducing the impact of workplace stress, leadership challenges, and negative interpersonal conflicts at work.

Joyce’s passion for helping people work and live well together, has led to her providing countless conflict interventions and authoring 4 books, as well as creating innovative tools and personal improvement strategies for almost 20 years. Two of her key initiatives are the Wellness Improvement System Model® and the Coach Training Certificate, a globally recognized coach training program – the first of its kind in Manitoba. Joyce has a Master’s Degree in Conflict Analysis and Management, is a Certified Training and Development Professional (CTDP) and a Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Also a wife and mother of two adult children, Joyce is an avid reader and active volunteer, supporting not-for-profit boards locally and internationally.

Neil Alcala_DirectPayCEO of DirectPay Neil Alcala has worked in the eCommerce industry for over 18 years and in that time has transformed DirectPay from a home-based business to an enterprise with thousands of clients. Neil is presently Treasurer of The Coach Initiative.

Utilizing his degree in Engineering and extensive experience with workflow and organizational processes, Neil has succeeded in supporting a wide variety of business types in increasing productivity with payment processing systems designed to meet their specific needs.

DirectPay remains dedicated to the ideal of a client-centered approach to business support, building sustainable relationships with coaches, speakers, information marketers and other service professionals all over the world.

eric tonningsen

Eric Tonningsen successfully transitioned from 25 years of increasingly responsible executive positions in corporate America to, in 2006, becoming the Founder and Principal of JourneyWorks Coaching. As an award-winning speaker, author, blogger, and podcasts host, Eric partners with people who want to shift from lives focused largely on material success, to realigning their lives with even greater meaning and significance.

PCC credentialed by the International Coach Federation (ICF), Eric served four years (including President) as an ICF New Mexico Board member as well as past leadership positions with Toastmasters International. As a Coach he works with Baby Boomers (the ‘chronologically gifted’ as he refers to the cohort) as they plan for, transform and enter life’s “Third Act.” Eric is passionate about inspiring individuals who have little desire to quietly fade into society’s sidelines.

Eric earned a M.B.A. from George Mason University with a focus on International Political Economy and Technology. He resides in the New Mexico High Desert with his two Black Labradors.

jeannine sandstromNicknamed “Dr. J.” Julius Erving was one of the greatest basketball stars ever to play the game. His play emphasized leaping great heights and playing above the rim.And that’s exactly what Dr. Jeannine Sandstrom does—she teaches, trains, coaches and advises executives to “play above the rim,” reaching and scoring higher than anyone else, higher than they ever thought. Jeannine Sandstrom is the Dr. J of business.

 Jeannine prefers the title “Executive Performance Specialist” over Executive Leader Coach because performance is the bottom line for any C-Level executive, and that is her specialty. Sandstrom’s education, corporate background, coaching and life experiences in numerous industries and across the globe uniquely qualify her as the perfect match-up coach to C-Level leaders.Dr. Sandstrom holds the vision for their success, is uncompromising, has remarkable insights, is strategic in her process and requires clients be fully engaged on the field of play. Her observations and challenges are direct, delivered in a gentle yet firm way.  Questions are specific and sometimes tough. She keeps clients on the practice field until they are skilled at the role they have chosen to play. She listens for both what is said and NOT said, often unlocking the key to why someone does not do what they say they want to do. Her “whole system”-like approach encourages timely breakthroughs, improved performance and sustained bottom line results.

Adult Learning and is a Master Certified Coach (MCC). Jeannine has been where you are, shouldering profit and loss responsibility, leading large teams and has held the executive strategic vision in her own hands. She is a proponent of life-long learning and believes in constant training and conditioning to be prepared for the endurance sport of business.

Advisory Committee

Kanu Kogod 2Trained as an anthropologist, organizational development consultant and master certified coach with global work experience, Kanu Kogod started her own consulting firm, Bridges in Organizations, in 1987.  Kanu co-designed and for over nine years facilitated Leadership Alchemy, an award-winning nine-month transformational leadership development program at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  Her clients include the World Bank Group, the National Park Service, Merck Pharmaceuticals and the International Red Cross.

Kanu addresses everything from cultural collisions to culture change in order to successfully impact a leader’s performance and job satisfaction as well as the performance and satisfaction of the people they lead.  She uses a holistic approach—language, body, emotions and spirit.  That means helping leaders with the tools they need to design conversations, build leadership presence and raise their emotional intelligence so that they can achieve the outcomes they desire in their organizations, communities or in a larger political arena.

sandy vilasSandy Viilas has been a business and personal coach since 1989 and purchased Coach U, Inc. from Thomas Leonard in 1996. He is a co-founder of the ICF and first co-president. Sandy retired in 2005 and lives in Arizona.


Ruth Ann Harnisch is President of The Harnisch Foundation, which has given grants to hundreds of nonprofit organizations since its founding in 1998. She is a proponent of creative philanthropy whose unusual charitable investments have landed her on Oprah and the Today show. Ruth Ann encourages people to discover the thrill of giving money, time, skills, ideas and other assets to the causes they care about. She shares their stories on Thrillionaires.

Ruth Ann is a “recovering journalist.” Starting out as a teen deejay in her native Buffalo, NY, she spent three decades in media work, including Emmy-nominated television reporting and anchoring at the CBS-TV affiliate in Nashville, TN, a daily talk-radio program on WLAC-AM, and 17 years as a columnist for The Nashville Banner.

After retiring from her journalism career, she chaired the board of More Than Money, a national nonprofit assisting top wealth-holders to put their money where their values are (for free access to back issues of the journal, visit More Than Money). That organization’s coaching program inspired Ruth Ann to learn about the emerging field of professional coaching. She joined the International Coach Federation and the International Association of Coaching. She served on the Board of Governors of the IAC as well as the board of the Thomas J. Leonard Foundation. She became a Co-Founder of The Foundation of Coaching with David Goldsmith to create an independent resource for coaching information.

Ruth Ann most recently served on the ICF Foundation’s Board of Trustees. She has also served on the board of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Society of Professional Journalists (of which she has been a member for over 30 years). She is a member of the International Women’s Forum, Rachel’s Network, the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, American Women in Radio and Television, the Buffalo Broadcasters Association, and a lifetime member of the Broadcasters Foundation. She is a former member of the Women Donors Network. She is also an enthusiastic patron of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference Community and a million-dollar donor in the Women Moving Millions philanthropic initiative.

Ruth Ann is an IAC Master Certified professional coach. In her pro bono practice, Ruth Ann has been a thinking partner to authors, scientists, executives, performers, and other dynamic individuals. Ruth Ann says, “I work every day to apply my money and my moxie to the biggest problem in the world – untapped capacity. In my coaching, my grant-making, and my donor activities and organizations, I want to help people discover how much they’ve got and how to make the most of it for themselves and for others.” Ruth Ann Harnisch is married to William F. Harnisch, president and CEO of Peconic Partners, an investment management firm with offices in New York City and Long Island.

Laura Berman Fortgang is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the personal coaching field. Her best-selling books “Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction,” “Living Your Best Life” and “Take Yourself to the Top” have been published in 11 languages and distributed around the world.
A sought-after speaker and media resource, Laura has appeared on Oprah, Today, GMA and CBS’s Early Show among others. Her TV work and numerous mentions in national and international print media as well as her work through her coaching company, LPF*InterCoach, Inc., has provided Laura the opportunity to touch diverse clients ranging from homemakers, celebrities and Fortune 500 companies to NASA and the Army Corps of Engineers. She is currently a contributing editor and columnist for REDBOOK magazine and is responsible for the enormously popular Now What? Coaching method for those seeking career and life clarity.

One of the first recipients of the International Coach Federation’s Master Coach Credential, Laura was a founding member of ICF and a four-year board member; she has been a tireless champion for the coaching profession around the world.

Jory Des Jardins, co-founder and President of Strategic Alliances for BlogHer, is an innovator in online advertising, women’s media and Internet entrepreneurship. Since co-founding BlogHer in 2005, Jory has developed strategic relationships with Fortune 1000 brands and led innovative campaigns to integrate contextual marketing and advertising into communities of women interested in every topic, from food to finance and technology. She started her career in traditional media, as an editor at The New York Times Syndicate and Time Inc. before embarking 11 years ago in the online world. Now, she is a top voice in best marketing practices in social media.
Jory serves on the boards of RSS company Feedblitz, children’s educational media company Juno Baby, and on the Board of Directors of the Internet Advertising Bureau. As an author and media strategist, Jory regularly writes on women’s business issues, blogging, relationships and pop culture for BlogHer.com and her blog, From Here to Autonomy.

Eva Wong is the creator of a series of charity programs named as “Heart Chorus”. These programs have been run for 20 years and benefited almost a million of people in many countries and regions such as China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Canada.  She is very passionate in coaching, training and philanthropy. Eva was born and educated in Hong Kong, and with her post graduate degree from Australia. Eva Wong is the first person brought coaching into China and author of several coaching related books including The Power of REN.

With Tremendous Appreciation to Members of The Coach Initiative Founding Board of Directors

Michael Bungay Stanier (2006-2007)
Margaret Krigbaum (2006 – 2008)