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Glass Buildings

Nurse – Leader – Learner – Coach


These four words best describe me, my passions, and my work.


I am a Professional Certified Coach, certified diversity coach, and group coach. I am a speaker, facilitator, leadership consultant, and author. I coach both individuals and groups. I am certified in trauma-informed coaching and facilitation as well as diversity coaching.

Nearly three decades ago, while working toward my nursing degree, I took a job working with adolescents in behavioral healthcare. Two things happened here that would establish the trajectory of my life’s work...

First, I learned that traumatized individuals display challenging behaviors. These behaviors reflect what was going on inside of them because of what had happened to them. This fascinated me. And I spent many years learning how to manage myself and respond to others in an environment where people were facing inner demons (and displaying bad behaviors).


Since we are all walking wounded to some degree or another, the communication and presence skills I learned in behavioral healthcare translate very well into the business arena.


Second, it was a toxic work environment. The leadership was ineffective and, at times, inappropriate. Everything we know about how to do leadership wrong, that was what the leader did. I was young, in my mid-twenties at the time, and I had to figure out who I was going to be as a professional while working in this very toxic environment. 

This experience inspired my desire to study leadership and be the best leader I could be, to create work environments that supported the best in people. Leadership became my mission.

I pursued my MBA and was introduced to coaching in 2001 which helped me really dive into what makes people thrive in life and work. And it satisfied my passion for continuous learning and development. I coached. I presented all over the country. I have written hundreds of articles and published two books on personal leadership development and have been recognized for my work.

  • Distinguished as one of the Top 100 thought leaders in personal leadership development by Leadership Excellence Magazine

  • Named a "Healthcare Hero" by Main Line Today

  • Recognized as one of the Top Leadership Coaches by Coach Foundation.

A lot of my work was in the healthcare space. So in 2012, when I was approached by a behavioral health center for children and adolescents to lead their nursing dept, I jumped at the opportunity and served as the executive nurse, their Director of Nursing, for over 8 years. While there, I also coached leaders internally, developed leadership training programs, and mentored others to advancement opportunities.


My passion for understanding the importance of a leader’s impact on the workforce extended to my doctoral studies and dissertation research. When I completed my doctorate in organizational leadership, I returned to coaching full time so that I could continue my mission for helping leaders access their brilliance, be less stressed, and create work environments where people do their best work.


My approach to coaching is that of a thinking partner. Leaders often do not have a safe place to explore their thinking, beliefs, values, goals, and strengths as well as their fears, struggles, biases, and blind spots. I listen deeply and have a direct communication style. I ask provocative questions to help reveal the leader to themselves and connect them to their values and desires. We tap into their brilliance. By evoking awareness and offering new perspectives, leaders learn different ways of approaching problems, situations, people, and conflicts. They become more confident and authentic and create highly productive teams.

I am committed to continuous learning and to that end, recently became Certified in Diversity Coaching so that I become more comfortable inviting conversations on diversity, equity, inclusion, and people's lived experiences. To coach the whole person, a coach must feel comfortable exploring topics that can feel personal and uncomfortable. It requires courage. As a leader, it is important to challenge and explore bias and assumptions. I consciously and intentionally remain curious about clients and others as well as myself, checking my own biases and assumptions. I am committed to helping leaders be more inclusive, aware, and more courageous. I focus and encourage others to DO right, rather than BE right. I believe that by increasing our awareness, setting our intentions, and harnessing the courage to act we can create safety for people to be more authentic and make workplaces better, more comfortable places for people to unleash the best of themselves. Will you join me?


To learn how you might work with me, schedule a free coaching consultation today.

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About Dr. Julie Donley, EdD, MBA, RN, PCC

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