Rena Seltzer: email or 734.665.4885

Meet Our Team

Leader Academic Coaches


Rena Seltzer, MSW, ACSW, Founder + Principal Coach

Expert Coach
Rena Seltzer is a leadership coach and dynamic trainer with over 20 years of experience supporting individuals and teams to make transformative changes and achieve their most important goals. Rena draws on her deep understanding of higher education and academic medicine to mentor academics across the span of their careers from pre-tenure to associate to full professor and from chair to deputy provost to dean. Rena supports scholars and higher education leaders across a wide range of disciplines including the social sciences, humanities, and STEM fields, and in professional schools including human and veterinary medicine, law, business, public health, and social work.

Dynamic Speaker
Rena has facilitated both on-campus and virtual professional development experiences for hundreds of faculty members and academic leaders across North America and in the UK. Her workshops combine well-researched information with interactive experiences and practical tools that attendees remember and continue to employ throughout their careers. Rena is a popular presenter at major research universities including Yale, Cornell, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin, as well as professional associations including the Academy of Management.

Rena is author of The Coach’s Guide for Women Professors: Who Want a Successful Career and a Well-Balanced Life, a book that gives robust attention not just to gender but to a full range of issues pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion of faculty and higher education leaders of color, and from a range of historically underrepresented groups.

Rena graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master’s of Social Work Degree. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan. Rena trained as a coach with The Coach’s Training Institute (CTI) and Mentor Coach and is a member of the International Coach Federation and the Academy of Management. Rena’s work is greatly influenced by her interest in Positive Organizational Scholarship. Rena’s prior work in employee assistance and as a psychotherapist working with individuals, groups, and families bring additional depth to her coaching.

Personal + Interests
Rena lives with her physician partner in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She enjoys biking, long walks, hiking, and spending time with her family—including two young adult sons—and friends. Rena holds a black belt in Shorin-Ryu karate.


Deanna Stouder, Ph.D. 

Deanna Stouder is a coach and leader with 30+ years experience working in academia and with the federal government. Deanna brings extensive experience in executive, leadership, and career change coaching, and is an International Coaching Federation Professional Certified Coach. Deanna helps individuals to bring together their passions, values, and skills to become more effective leaders and achieve stellar results. Deanna also works with leaders and their groups in team coaching in which she supports the group to communicate effectively and better manage and balance the work to achieve both individual and collective goals.

Deanna’s prior work experience ranges from research professor to Senior Executive Service within the Federal Government. Now, she enjoys blending her passions for science, natural resources, and developing people. Deanna earned a BA in aquatic biology and an MA in biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she earned her PhD in ecology at the University of Georgia, and she did postdoctoral work in wetland ecology at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her faculty appointments have included the University of Washington, Oregon State University, and The Ohio State University.


Deborah S. Willis, Ph.D

Deborah S. Willis is a passionate and enthusiastic educator, facilitator and certified executive coach. She is the senior program lead for the University of Michigan Rackham Professional Development Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Certificate, a program she designed to prepare participants to work in a diverse environment while fostering a climate of inclusivity. Throughout her professional career, Dr. Willis has provided vision and advocacy for faculty, students and staff in the areas of leadership development, DEI professional development and career development. Her engaging style of training and coaching encourages progressive, actionable and tangible growth for the people she serves. She is committed to creating initiatives that support an inclusive community and promote institutional change. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her partner, daughter and son, enjoying nature, walking, listening to music, dancing and journaling. Dr. Willis holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan and is a proud wolverine.


Joanna Friedman, Ph.D.

Joanna Friedman is a coach with more than 20 years experience working with academics in a wide range of disciplines at every stage of their careers. Joanna approaches coaching as a cooperative endeavor and works together with her clients to identify, understand, and overcome obstacles and implement positive solutions to achieve their personal and career goals. Joanna earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. Her academic training and the fact that she has spent her life around academics (both her father and her husband have been tenured professors at the University of Michigan) enable her to better understand the demands of academic life. Joanna’s clinical background as a psychotherapist provides her with additional expertise to support her clients’ goals to write with greater ease, get more done, manage departmental politics and challenging personalities, and maintain a healthy balance between their personal and professional lives.


Patricia Romney, Ph.D.

Dr. Pat Romney is a leadership coach focused on peak performance and joy. She coaches faculty members and academic administrators, as well as Executive Directors in human services, arts organizations, and think tanks. Deeply skilled in dialogue and equity work, her greatest joy comes from supporting this generation’s leaders as they fulfill their destiny and purpose. Pat received her Ph.D. from the City University of New York where she won the Bernard R. Ackerman Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Graduate Psychology. She completed her internship in Consultation and Education at the Yale University School of Medicine and did her coaching training at The College of Executive Coaching. She taught at the college level for twenty years, achieving tenure at Hampshire College, followed by a 10-year appointment as Visiting Associate Professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Holyoke College. Still an active scholar, she is the co-editor of Understanding Power, author of over twenty articles, and the recently acclaimed book We Were There.


Victoria Fontana

Victoria Fontana is a mindfulness and conscious leadership coach, and multidisciplinary professor at IE Business School, where she teaches Authentic Leadership, Mindfulness & Compassion, Teamwork, and Spanish. She coaches faculty and staff, as well as executives and new managers, walking side by side with them to access their inner wisdom, and values and develop themselves as conscious & authentic leaders. She often helps people navigate change and challenges, thrive under stress, cultivate positive relationships, communicate with impact, and set boundaries for a healthy life balance. She believes in evidence-based tools and techniques. Her approach is informed by over 25 years in Education, Mindfulness, and Positive Psychology-based coach training, an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches from Bangor University, and a Certificate in Contemplative Psychotherapy, from Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. She offers coaching in English and Spanish.


Elizabeth Odders-White, Ph.D.

After more than 20 years in faculty and leadership roles at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Elizabeth Odders-White transitioned to coaching and consulting to help clients in higher education (and beyond) thrive. She works with leaders, individuals, and groups to set goals consistent with their values, map out steps for moving forward, and generate evidence-based strategies for overcoming any obstacles. Elizabeth’s deep compassion and creativity, coupled with an intimate familiarity with the complexities of an academic environment, enable her to offer clients the particular encouragement and support they need to flourish. In addition to a Ph.D. in finance from Northwestern University, Elizabeth earned a BS in mathematics and a BFA in music, both from Tulane University. She is a member of the International Coach Federation and a Certified Executive Coach, trained through the Center for Executive Coaching. She is also trained in positive psychology coaching.


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What They’re Saying

“Rena knows academia, in all its glories and pitfalls….I am a happier, healthier, higher-impact, and more productive academic, thanks to Rena’s coaching.”

– Dolly Chugh, Associate Professor, New York University

“I needed to transform how I approached my research. Rena was instrumental in ensuring I was incredibly productive.  From goal setting to structuring my time effectively to creating metaphors that facilitated my ability to push through challenges, she has helped to make me a happier and more efficient academic.  Her positive energy is infectious and her ability to help her clients see the big picture is unparalleled.  I don’t know what I’d do without her!”

– Modupe Akinola, Assistant Professor, Columbia University

“Rena’s coaching has helped me navigate challenges and solve problems relating to research, administration, and career planning. Rena’s coaching has helped me enormously professionally. I also appreciate the greater peace of mind; thanks to our discussions, I don’t take work frustrations home with me.”

– John Cawley, Professor of Policy Analysis and Management, Professor of Economics, co-Director of the Institute on Health Economics, Health Behaviors and Disparities, Cornell University.

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