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meet the team

Knowing your impact is a powerful thing. We learned this first hand.

Kate and Debbie met at a training session in Boulder, Colorado during the fall of 2011. This training helped you understand how the outside world experiences you when you are being your most compelling self. From this awareness you can consciously create the impact you want to have.

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At the time, Debbie was the Chief of People for Mozilla and Kate was co-owner of StepUp Leadership. Kate was in-training to become certified to lead this approach. Debbie was there as a participant to learn the model and assess if the approach had potential within Mozilla. What’s funny about their first meeting is when you are your most compelling self, others want to connect with you. It must have worked because they were drawn to each other and have been learning and working together ever since!

Their first big collaboration was the leadership program Debbie was working on for Mozilla. She wanted to create something that spoke to the unique culture of Mozilla, which was a rapidly scaling global, open-source movement.

Kate, and her then-business partner became Debbie’s partners of choice. Their goal was to create a leadership program that was transformational not transactional. Working together, they co-created what became branded as LEAD: Leadership Exploration And Discovery, a totally unique approach to developing leaders. This exploratory leadership model allowed people to uncover who they really are, as well as who they want to be and bring that full human potential into their leadership. Micha Anderson, the Senior HR Business Partner who supported the very large engineering function, notes “Mozilla’s director population really shifted from a victim mindset to people really leaning in and using their voice to make change.” This program became the catalyst for TRIBE, a deconstructed version of LEAD, focused on providing skills and techniques to help all members of the Mozilla community gain insights about themselves and work better together. It ran successfully for over 8 years.

Fast forward several years, Kate was now running StepUp Leadership on her own and Debbie had left Mozilla and gone on to do a number of other projects. Debbie and Kate began taking on several projects together, most focused on group dynamics of leadership teams. They began to notice some repeating themes: lack of trust in one another, inability to constructively navigate conflict, self-protective behavior, and repeated cycles of reactive behavior. The impact of these behaviors (and others) was gridlock – a lack of forward momentum for the company. No amount of process and procedure could fix what was broken.

What these teams needed, and what Kate and Debbie were able to provide were insights, tools and techniques so people could get into relationship with one another and work better together.

It was working. The work they were doing in organizations was working, again.

​​They were also exploring organizational gaps and pain points. They honed their focus on front-line managers, using mountains of qualitative and quantitative evidence to indicate this as the high-leverage layer to effect change and drive engagement within most organizations. Their working assumption: if managers were functioning from their highest potential, a ripple effect could be created with the humans they are responsible for and with those they work interdependently with. A bit LEAD-like, the idea used a cohort model to affect a sea-change in how people were working together to get things done so organizations and their people would thrive.

Simultaneously, they had been talking about whether or not this is a movement, a “gorilla sea-change” for HR or, a big shift in the way it contributes to an organization’s success. Kate and Debbie reached out to a group of people they lovingly refer to as “The Dream Team” to talk about the impact that they were having. Kate and Debbie had been approaching the dialogue through the perspective of creating a new product, a program for HR, which would be part of the overall mix of programs they offered. And from a quiet place of contemplation on the couch, Mihca (one of our dream teamers) boldly declared: “You cannot lead a movement part time, YOU are the champions of this movement.” In that moment Kate remembers her heart dropping; Deb’s hands were beginning to sweat. Their eyes locked on each other and without saying anything, they knew they were being called forward. HR was not their target it was all people in the workplace. We had bigger things to do in the world. It was up to us to help bring more humanity to the workplace so we could change the world of work for everyone because Humanity Works Better together.

Chief Inspiration Officer, Co-Founder

Kate Roeske-Zummer

Kate brings over 20 years of experience to her coaching and leadership-development work. She specializes in helping individuals and teams explore their own strengths and weaknesses so they can lead by example and make an even bigger contribution to the world. She is passionate about bringing more humanity into the workplace by coaching leaders to become more present, emotionally intelligent and relational.

Kate's Full Bio >>

Kate believes that transformation is possible for everyone. She helps clients identify their unique opportunities—and what may be standing in the way—so that they can become the leaders they were meant to be. Kate believes that reactive management styles are ineffective and that vulnerability-based leadership creates stronger relationships, more authentic connections and better results. Through online 360s, Kate dives deep with clients. Her skill-based approach helps leaders cultivate the communication skills and values that drive success across the organization.

Since 2003, Kate has worked with both corporate and nonprofit clients, including Mozilla, Pinterest, Adobe, DaVita, CBS Interactive, United Way of America, RW Baird, Leo Burnett, Ogilvy and Mather and The Colorado Education Initiative. Her work has been focused on being a part of a deep cultural shift in organizations, where she has helped leaders examine their values, accountability and what it means to be a contributing member of the organization. This has resulted in big shifts—within the organizations themselves, as well as within their shared language, leadership development and understanding of what it means to be a leader.

Kate began her career at Ogilvy & Mather where she eventually rose in the ranks to become Strategic Planner, Senior Director. Her primary focus was on strategic development for such Fortune 500 companies as Ponds, Dove, United Way and Kodak. Kate also served on the faculty of the Coaches Training Institute for nearly eight years where she delivered training throughout North America, Canada, England and South Africa.

Recent Leadership Coaching Clients

CEO (Not-for-Profit)

CFO (Advertising)

EVP, Operations (Technology)

SVP, IT (Financial Services)

Directors, VPs (Technology Companies)

VPs (Healthcare)

Director, Management Consulting (Training and Development)

SVP, Public Relations (Healthcare)

VP, Operations (Healthcare)

40 Directors and 5 VPs (Multiple Functional Areas, Technology)

Chief Instigator, Co-Founder

Debbie Cohen

Debbie is a change agent whose richly diverse journey has led her from preschool teacher to executive leader in Global Fortune 100 companies. Her published case study was recognized by Berkeley-Haas in 2013 as providing the most important contribution to management education in the preceding year. The breadth of her industry experience is diverse as well. She has held leadership roles in tech, entertainment, media, advertising and in the nonprofit world. Not surprisingly, Debbie is sought after for her creativity and thought leadership in complex, evolving systems.

Debbie's Full Bio >>

Debbie believes that systemic change cannot happen without individual change, and that individual change requires a responsive environment to nurture the effort. This both/and approach to management is at the core of her leadership development style. If there’s an elephant in the room, you can count on Debbie to put it squarely in the middle of the table, with warmth and humor, so that everyone can take part in the conversation. She then facilitates change at the point of greatest need and least resistance, honoring the capacity for change in individuals and organizations. As additional need is demonstrated, more support is offered. Transformation happens in phases based on the readiness to learn, assimilate and grow.

Debbie has held executive Human Resource positions for First Look, the Mozilla Corporation, Razorfish and Time Warner. Prior to Time Warner, Debbie was the Senior Strategist for Bright Horizons Family Solutions, where she was known as a leader in human-capital management, dependent care and work/life balance. Debbie is committed to balancing the needs and interests of individuals with those of the broader organization to unleash the power of possibility in the midst of complexity.

Executive and Team Coaching – Industry Experience

Technology (Mozilla Corporation)

Media and Entertainment (Time Warner & First Look Media)

Advertising (Razorfish)

University (Stanford)

Public Sector (Department of the Interior)

Early Childhood Education (Bright Horizons)

Start-up (First Look LLC)

CLT, Chief of Little Things

George Zummer

George had a 30+-year career in technology and engineering before transitioning to all the little things that add up to big headaches. He is the one keeping track of all the details that make the business run and does this with efficiency and humor. If you are working with us, then likely you will be dealing with George on all things technological and financial!

George's Full Bio >>

Passionate about leadership, George often has his head buried in a book about leadership and finds articles and ideas that funnel through the business. His philosophy can be summarized in this quote, “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire teammates and customers.” -Robin S. Sharma.

George’s past lives have been consumed with technical sales, engineering, and the cloud for such companies as GE, Samsung and Front Porch Digital. Now, he is the Chief of All Little Things for StepUp so that the rest of the team can focus on bringing more humanity back into the workplace.

Automotive (Ford Motor Company)

Technology (Motorola, Texas Instruments, IBM)

Finance (Wells Fargo, American Express, China Merchants Bank)

Travel/Hospitality (Alaska Airlines, Marriot Hotels)

Healthcare (Fairview Hospitals)

Industrial (Cummins, Cargill, Siemens)

Retail (C&A, IKEA)

Consulting (Schouten China)

Program Leader

Jeffrey Jacobson

Jeffrey Jacobson is an executive and corporate coach and facilitator with over 20 years of experience. He works with clients to manage change, enhance performance, discover cutting-edge solutions and create sustainable working environments. His current roster consists of clients from all over the world who seek him out for his sharp, innovative insights.

Jeff's Full Bio >>

Jeff has been a faculty member of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) since 1999, where he has taught thousands of students the inner workings of the coach approach to work and life. He has developed educational programs, supervised students throughout their certification process and has set the standard for top-level teaching and training.

Jeff also teaches CTI’s Co-Active Leadership Program, where entrepreneurs, managers and executives work together in a retreat setting to ignite their inherent leadership strengths as well as create innovative projects for their organizations and communities. He is well known for engaging his students to achieve optimum results with focus, ease and finesse.

Jeff co-founded Fork in the Road Learning with a mission to bring awareness to automatic thought processes based on the Ladder of Inference model. He uses this process to help clients eliminate their reactive habits in order to create fresh ways of working and communicating.

Jeff currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Shanghai, China, where he oversees the training of Chinese Leaders for the Coaches Training Institute. He also leads coach-related training and corporate development in Mandarin and English.

Prior to coaching and training, Jeff studied Asian culture and language for years throughout the East and Southeast Asian regions, and went on to teach Mandarin Chinese to business executives from Ford, Motorola and Texas Instruments. Additionally, he has worked as an interpreter and translator.

Program Leader

Kay Stone

Kay has more than eighteen years of experience helping clients to transform their lives in positive and inspiring ways. Kay is a Licensed Psychotherapist, a Professional Certified Coach recognized by the International Coaching Federation, and a Leadership Circle Assessment Practitioner.

Kay's Full Bio >>

Her client work primarily focuses on leadership development, team coaching, health and wellness, and relationship work–all with the goal of helping her clients take their contributions to the next level. Kay is also an Adjunct Faculty Professor for Naropa University where she teaches in their Graduate Psychology School. Whether she’s working with stressed-out CEO’s, overwhelmed parents, or leadership teams, Kay is challenging and championing her clients to bring forth their best.

Clients have included:

Deloitte Consulting

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

DLA Piper

prAna clothiers