“Growing up in the midwest of the USA, I was part of an “old money” white family who, when I was 10 years old, lost all of their money. Despite that, I still had a life with many other forms of wealth intact... social, intellectual, experiential, and cultural. I had lots of privilege even without cash. I had plenty of ideas, knowledge, ability to take action, and connection to community. This gave me a foundation that I knew I could count on and a springboard to experiment with lots of freedom.
"The turning point came when I was teaching coaching skills in a federal medium security prison. Imagine 35 men, mostly Native Americans, Latinos and African Americans, and me, a culturally incompetent white woman. Those men never had many of the privileges I enjoyed, yet they were rich in cultural wealth (stories and rituals) and spiritual wealth (intention and faith), and intellectual wealth (ideas and knowledge). They also had hope, whereas I had none.
"As I worked with them over a few years, they called me out and challenged me to use what I had been given. If they, locked up without parole for years, could go for making a difference, then what was stopping me? It was like finding a key that fit the locked up parts of me, to use my life to help others use theirs more fully. I had no idea what that meant, but I stepped in anyway. I knew then that my goal was to give power back to those who had been robbed of it. Everyone has a gift to offer the world, and each deserves support in finding it and making it flourish.”
Virginia co-founded Leadership that Works and created Coaching For Community Transformation, a program that brings coaching training into community settings. This program helps service providers, schools, nonprofit and social justice leaders integrate the principles of coaching into all their work.
Virginia is past president of the Association of Coach Training Organizations. In her spare time, Virginia enjoys making beauty through her flower and vegetable gardens and in creating wild and colorful art quilts.