Meet the Team

We are a team of business executives who are passionate about real leadership and the impact it can make on the success of an organization. We are recognized for our depth of knowledge, skilled facilitation ability, and engaging and highly dynamic presentation style. We are frequently sought as speakers or program leaders for special events.

Steve Coats

As one of the leading authorities on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, Steve has taught, coached and consulted with executives and managers in several countries around the world. Steve focuses his work on leadership and team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. He also has extensive development experience with renowned programs such as Steven Covey’s Principle Centered Leadership and a number of client-specific customized programs. Steve has published several articles, as well as co-authoring the book, There is No Box (Executive Excellence Publishing, 2007).

Steve understands leadership from the inside out, with experience in both Fortune 100 companies and small upstarts. Steve led a National Account Team at telecommunications giant, AT&T, and also co-founded The Leadership Dimension, Inc.

Steve received an MBA from North Texas University and completed an executive program in technology and innovation at the Wharton School.

Driven by a deep commitment to his clients and their success, Steve helps individuals and teams identify and resolve key issues that impede effectiveness in order to achieve remarkable results.

Connie Sullivan

CSullivanConnie joined International Leadership Associates in March of 2003. She has deep experience in sales, training and development, and is an accomplished program facilitator. Along with facilitating ILA workshops, she runs the day-to-day operations of the company.

Prior to coming to ILA, Connie was with Coors Brewing Company. While with Coors, she held positions in field sales, training and develoment for sales and marketing, and also served as plant training manager in Memphis. She is credited with the development and delivery of numerous curriculums, including one that defined, assessed and developed skills required for the sales force. She also led the development of an apprenticeship program for the manufacturing group, and a company diversity awareness program. After Coors, she was with PC On Call, an information technology company in Cincinnati, where she developed and delivered sales training. She also assisted in the develoment of a customer service curriculum. She holds a number of facilitator certifications with a variety of companies. Throughout her career, Connie has successfully worked directly with all levels of management, including executive teams.

Connie thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to share the experience of learning and developing leadership skills and abilities with ILA’s clients. Workshop participants frequently comment about her subject matter knowledge, her genuine belief in the programs she facilitates, and her contagious enthusiasm.


Valarie D. Willis

Valarie WillisKnown for her passion and energy, Valarie has worked with companies in industries including health care, manufacturing, wholesale, retail, technology and finance. Her mission is to guide and provoke orgnaizations to optimize business results through leadership development. Her belief is that each individual can achieve their fullest potential given the tools and opportunity. Throughout her 20+ year work history, Valarie has assumed critical management, leadership and consulting roles of significant scope. She led a major transition for one of her previous companies, and led a fledgling division to profitability.

Valarie is an accomplished speaker, facilitator, consultant and executive coach, focused in the area of leadership, teambuilding and change. She is a Master Facilitator of the Leadership Challenge® Workshop, which is based on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. Valarie has worked with Fortune 100 companies, small companies, as well as non-profit organizations. Her versatility allows her to work from the factory floor to the boardroom.

Valarie holds an MBA from Xavier University and a B.A. from Wilmington College.

Kim Chesky

Kim Chesky_editedKim has over two decades of experience working with leaders to help them enhance individual, team and organizational effectiveness.  His specialty is building partnerships with clients to design and deliver leadership development, coaching, team building, organizational change and organizational effectiveness solutions that increase associate engagement, improve customer satisfaction and enhance performance.

He has developed leaders at all levels in a broad range of organizations from Fortune 50 companies to small not-for-profits.   He has practical hands-on experience working with leaders in healthcare, agribusiness, publishing, manufacturing, service, not-for-profit and faith-based organizations.  Kim’s evidence-based approach to development is proven to improve leader behaviors and help them build vibrant, engaging workplace cultures that are deeply devoted to enhancing both customer and associate commitment.

Kim earned both his BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He taught graduate courses in leadership, strategic planning, marketing, communications and ethics.  Kim is a Certified Master facilitator for The Leadership Challenge Workshop, is a Registered Corporate Coach (RCC), certified in PDI 360 feedback tools and is certified in Senn-Delaney’s Leadership and Culture Shaping Workshop.

Amanda Nelson

Amanda Nelson is deeply passionate about helping people and teams realize their full potential and joy in their work and lives. She has a strong passion for leadership development and systemic thinking. She believes that everyone can make a difference no matter their individual circumstance, and she hopes her legacy will be that she improved the lives of others by helping people connect their unique talents and passions to solve the world’s toughest challenges.

Amanda has been touching lives for the past 18 years as an HR Leader, Organizational Development Professional and Culture Change Agent. She has a Masters Degree in Business Administration as well as her SHRM-SCP and SPHR certifications, signifying her human resources mastery. She has also received praise for her facilitated workshops and personalized coaching in her work, and is currently pursuing Master-level certification in The Leadership Challenge.

Amanda has a great deal of corporate experience and is currently the Director of Human Resources with Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center in Colorado. She received her MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management.

Janet Collins

Janet is an accomplished executive, strategic advisor and coach, who works with business leaders to develop growth strategies and mobilize teams to take action and achieve results. Janet has been a long time partner, working with ILA and The Leadership Challenge for nearly twenty years, both as a consultant and a practicing leader.  As the recent president of a mid-size manufacturer, she used The Five Practices methodology to lead a culture transformation toward innovation, growth and accountability. Prior to that, Janet held Vice President positions at LexisNexis, Synchrony Communications and WorkflowOne. Janet received her BS in Business from Miami University and did graduate work at the University of Dayton.

Dave Carr

As an experience-based facilitator, David Carr seeks to help leaders with the human side of work and deal effectively with these truths. It’s no longer about earning a living, but rather learning a living. As a life-long learner, David is committed to helping others break phantom rules and move from his/her comfort zone into the learning zone. David is a uniquely qualified experiential facilitator based on his life experiences. His personal leadership development began in Boy Scouts earning his Eagle Scout award. He partnered with his father after receiving a B.A. in psychology from DePauw University, owning and running a profitable distribution business. David took over leadership of this business in 1988.

He has worked with over a 1,000 leaders and teams in developing uncommon leadership, building nurturing communities and creating productive innovation resulting in higher morale, lower turnover, increased productivity and greater ROI. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies; educational institutions as well as small family-owned companies and not-for-profits. He joined Montreat College in January 2009 after eight years as Venture Out! Director, Joy Outdoor Education Center, Clarksville, Ohio

Paul Cashen

paul cashenPaul Cashen has a 30+ year business career working in Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurial start-ups.  This experience allows Paul to coach with tremendous credibility and accumulated knowledge gained while working from the mid-level management role to the “C” suite. His experiences in real estate, retail, healthcare, economic development, IT services and data management provides Paul with accumulated wisdom from different industry perspectives. Paul inspires and challenges those he coaches to increase their levels of performance and create and achieve meaningful goals. He accomplishes this by imparting information related to improved leadership, management, communications and business processes.  Clients characterize Paul as a trusted advisor who is a good listener that gets results.

Brian Jackson

Brian JacksonAs Founder and Principal of The Orion Trust, Brian Jackson is a leader in designing and facilitating experience-based organizational performance programs for corporate clients and government entities throughout the United States, and elsewhere.
Brian is passionate about leadership development. Soon after relocating to the United States from Europe, he served for three years as a full-time consultant and faculty member of Boston University’s School of Management, where he directed programs that focused on teambuilding, leadership development, and creativity enhancement. His principal emphasis with Boston University’s Executive Challenge Program was to create and facilitate highly customized, experiential land- and water-based programs for clients at various locations throughout the United States.

Brian has served as an Instructor for all the executive-level M.B.A. Programs at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College (ranked #1 in Florida by Financial Times, BusinessWeek, Leadership Excellence and Forbes). He also co-facilitates the College’s highly regarded “Advanced Leadership Program”, and was a faculty member of the New England-based “Global Institute for Leadership Development”. Brian is a member of the Greater Orlando Organizational Network, and has served as a committee member and Diversity co-Chair for the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development .

Brian has worked and consulted with with a number of organizations  Brian is also a contributing author to several books and journals that promote performance-related methodologies.

After being educated at the University of Capetown, South Africa, Brian was affiliated with many years with Outward Bound in Rhodesia, England and North America, and is an inductee of their international “Roll of Honour”. Earlier in his career, Brian was appointed to the staff of Brathay Hall, a pioneering British training and development organization,

Brian Jackson is certified as both a DISC Facilitator and a “Crucial Conversations” Trainer. With many years of international experience, his expertise is also sought by other nationally-recognized providers of experientially-based development programs. Learn more about Orion Trust at

Friends of ILA

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

Jim KouzesBarry PosnerJim and Barry are not just friends, they are the reason we exist as a business. Together they wrote the worldwide best seller, The Leadership Challenge. It was their research and findings that inspired us to start our business several years ago. Much of our work today is still based on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® described in their book.

Jim Kouzes is the chairman emeritus of The Tom Peters Company and an Executive Fellow at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University (SCU).

Barry Posner is dean of the Leavey School of Business and Professor of Leadership at Santa Clara University, where he has received numerous teaching and innovation awards.

Jim and Barry continue to be great mentors and coaches for us, and are always there with answers to tough questions and endless encouragement. To learn more about Jim, Barry and their work, please visit

Ron Crossland

Ron has been an organizational consultant and educator since 1985, whose range of experience has taught him that regardless of position, individuals’ work matters. He has helped individuals, teams, and organizations develop better leaders, create more innovation, forge better internal and external relationships, and inspire greater performance.

Ron is a writer, an intuitionist, a factoid junkie, and a research synthesizer. Ron blends science and art, data and philosophy, with theory and practicality to achieve an enviable goal for educators: help leaders find practical applications they can use right away as well as prompt them to reconsider their longer term leadership positions and practices.

He is a five-time entrepreneur and has held founding and/or executive positions in the following companies:

  • International Leadership Associates (Co-Founder)
  • Tom Peters Company (former Vice-Chair)
  • Tom Peters Company, Ltd. (current Managing Partner)
  • Bluepoint Leadership Development (former Chairman)

He is a speaker for company meetings, industry association events, and other venues. Ron received his BS in Electronic Engineering Technology (1975) and his MBA (1977) from Oklahoma State University.  In 2011 OSU’s Spears School of Business recognized him as one of the top fifty MBA graduates of its fifty year history.

Ron is also Co-author of The Leader’s Voice: How Your Communication Can Inspire Action and Get Results! (New York: SelectBooks, 2002, 2008), and The Leadership Experience: From Individual Success to Organizational Significance (New York: SelectBooks, 2007).

Steve Houchin

Steve HouchinAfter nearly 25 years with ILA, as Managing Partner and Co-Owner, Steve retired at the end of 2014. He will always be a friend of the business.