An oak leaf has symbolized my work and purpose since launching GreenLeaf Consulting way back in 1998. Oaks are special trees that have long represented strength, courage and great potential for growth. And nature’s always been my place to rejuvenate and gain clarity about my own path and purpose.
Pre-GreenLeaf, I worked in Management Education and Organization Development, Instructional Design and Training roles at Arthur Andersen, Walgreens, and Unisys. I also taught on the adjunct faculty at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, where my subjects included Global Leadership, Leading Change, Creativity, and Building Effective Teams.
Working across the United States and in Argentina, Canada, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, England, Ireland, Germany, Thailand, Switzerland, France, Colombia, Malaysia, and Australia with leaders from over 40 countries has been a joy. I’ve been honored to work with folks at Netflix, BMW, Coca Cola, SunLife, Düsseldorf University, Dr. Martens, NASA, Aegon Asia, Red Bull, MetLife China, NBC Universal, MicroSoft Latin America and Hilton to name a few in a range of executive coaching, workshop and retreat settings.
Before heading out into the wide world, I grew up on a farm in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Appalachia’s beautiful forests, wildflowers, and waterfalls impressed on me at an early age the importance of caring for our environment. And in true Southern style, I’ve never met a stranger.
I went to Purdue University in Indiana for an MS in Instructional Design and a BS in Nutrition and I’ve been a life-long learner ever since. I’m certified in several helpful diagnostic tools that nurture individuals and teams, an Amazing Career™ Coach (designed for Women), a member of the International Coaching Federation, a Certified Nature Retreat Leader, and a Master Facilitator of the HBDI Thinking Styles survey.
I’m passionate about helping diverse folks find their voice and work together to make a sustainable difference in their lives, organizations and communities. Serving on the advisory board of The Biodiversity Group is a way to help preserve little known communities of animals in shrinking wild places – Life Overlooked™. I recently completed six years on the board of Together Women Rise, a powerful community of women and allies dedicated to achieving global gender equality in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals. And I also served ten years on the board of Upstate International in South Carolina to foster the dynamic exchange of international cultures and ideas.
I love hiking, gardening (dirt under my fingernails is great therapy!) and nature photography – all the photos on this site are mine. I travel to expand my horizons and adventures have taken me to Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Dominica, Honduras, Vieques, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guadeloupe, Belize, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Zanzibar, and other naturally nourishing locales, including a successful Kilimanjaro summit bid for my 50th. The more off-the-grid the better.
Want to know even more? Here are…
Five Things About Me:
(Click any one to read the full scoop…click again to fold it up!)
1. GreenLeaf Cynthia really IS Green
I’m a livelong nature lover, observer, explorer, caretaker and champion. As a passionate lover and defender of beauty, tranquility and sustainability I’m distressed by people who thoughtlessly toss garbage, pollute, trample and deface beautiful places. I help moderate a “Leave no Trace” Instagram account to help educate folks who may have missed out on scouting, s’mores and the 7 LNT Principles .
I care deeply about the health of our planet and try to influence others to be engaged in making a positive difference. I’ve been a card carrying Greenpeacer since the late 80’s and buy carbon offsets for flights and this site. My retirement savings are in a socially and environmentally responsible IRA. I don’t go to restaurants that use Styrofoam and carry my own bamboo utensils in my bag. etc.
I prefer artisan anything to mass market, farm-to-table vs. chain, organic seasonal food and free-range eggs. As a kid, one of my pets was a Cornish Hen named Ruby Rose, and one of these days I’d love to have some chickens again.
I grew up gardening and enjoying wildflowers, and always loved making things grow. I’ve never been without plants – even in the college dorm, taking them with me over the years. I’ve been known to carry water to wilted plants in public places. The past 20 years or so I’ve become an orchid fan and try to keep a variety of them alive with mixed success – one day I will have a proper greenhouse! I tend a rosebush that was my great great grandmother’s on my Grandpa’s side and my great great grandmother’s peony on Grandma’s side.
I love animals of all sorts and even overcame a spider fear instilled by my Mom who’d scream bloody murder at the sight of one. Last Fall I enjoyed watching a dedicated Green Lynx Spider Mama raise her family in flowers on my deck – eventually too fascinated to be scared. I’m the sort that stops to help turtles across the road. As a nurturer and defender of the vulnerable, I believe there’s a special place in hell for people who mistreat animals.
2. Openminded Curious Adventurer and Global Citizen from Rural Appalachia
Raised in the mountains of North Carolina, I’ve always treasured my homespun roots while growing into the first women in my family to receive a graduate degree and a well-traveled citizen of the world. Back in the day, I used to fill up passports and get the fat extra page inserts for a mix of work and personal travel. I’m energized by discovery, exploration and unique experiences in naturally nourishing places and have been privileged to visit 46 countries so far and work with leaders from over 40 countries.
I believe in awe and and get excited by natural wonders both large and small. When reading my Mom’s college literature textbooks for fun as a kid (I know), I became fascinated by the transcendentalists like Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott. Ever since, I’ve been a human vacuum cleaner of quotes and love their pithy nuggets of wisdom. You’ll find some sprinkled around the site and a few shareable ones here.
I’m intuitive and able to connect with a wide spectrum of people, meeting and befriending fascinating folks everywhere I go. Diverse people and experiences add immeasurable richness to my life. When I summited Kilimanjaro to celebrate my 50th, porters nicknamed me “Mama Flower” since I took a bajillion pics of plants along the way. I’ve embarked on many solo adventures starting with my first trip abroad to Australia and New Zealand after grad school. I started saving my allowance to go to Oz in the 5th grade when I became fascinated by the unique critters of Australia. I find balance and grounding in nature’s seasons and soloing in naturally beautiful places helped me re-center after tough times and deep loss.
As child of the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains, my soul is most at rest around rolling mountains, wildflowers and waterfalls.
3. Fairness and Doing Right by Others Matters
I’m a principled champion of women and invest time, talents and resources to make a difference for vulnerable women and girls. I traveled to DC to participate in the 2017 Women’s March and am in my 6th year of volunteer service on the board of Together Women Rise, the world’s largest grassroots giving circle dedicated to women’s equality.
I advocate tolerance, try to assume good intentions and believe in doing better when you know better. Integrity and kindness are paramount. I’m dismayed by people who step on others to get ahead and big guys who exploit little guys.
Injustice of any kind makes me livid, and I hope to do my part to foster a more just, compassionate and sustainable world.
4. I’m Resilient
Since being voted “Most Determined” Senior Superlative in High School, I’ve overcome accidents, illnesses and navigated times of transition and crossroads: relocations, divorce, career reinventions, financial difficulties, loss of loved ones and natural disasters.
When my car caught on fire in the wee hours on a desolate stretch of interstate pre-cellphone days, I promptly put the fire out and got on with the task of figuring out how to get it and me to my destination a few states away.
Years ago, I fell from my attic, nearly bled to death and was given a 50/50 chance of ever walking again. While recovering, I traveled to Bangkok in a wheelchair to solo facilitate a week-long Leadership Workshop, was walking again with a cane in 9 months and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 12 months later. Of course, I cried in my tent many nights of the trek, but wouldn’t change that life-affirming experience for anything.
Along the way I’ve learned:
- I’m determined and resilient.
- I’m a steady head and hand in a crisis and good listening ear.
- I love helping others build their grit, grace and gratitude.
5. Make it Count… Life’s too short not to be a force for good
Life’s too short to fritter away. As Mary Oliver says, “What are you doing with your one wild and precious life?”
In the 90’s I lost my groove at a very deep level and was on “This is as good as it gets” auto-pilot. I broke free in 2000, reawakened my authentic higher self, clarified my True North and mapped a path forward.
I’ve declined opportunities along the way that don’t align with that vision. Doing work that creates good in the world is non-negotiable and I’ve always donated a portion of my income to social and environmental causes. More here.
I pause to go faster: I get centered and grounded by taking time to reset and tune into my inner wisdom (purposeful pauses) – usually in nature. I loooove helping folks “find their people” and being a convener of wise women and their stories. I’m told I’m a good listener. I think words matter and I’m honored to help others find and use their true voice.
Please don’t make me do lots of small talk – I’m clueless about pop culture and celebrities du jour. I am a lover of art, music, literature and a Freddie Mercury/Queen fan. Otherwise, I’m usually listening to classical music which I discovered to calm frazzled nerves when commuting in Chicago traffic.
Sticky Toffee Pudding, Key Lime Pie, Homemade Carrot Cake (with real cream cheese frosting!)
Good Pinot Noir and Real Bubbly
Orchids (43 at last count) – flowers feed the soul after all
Getting lost in a good book
A Purring Cat
Favorite Game: Scrabble
Favorite Movie: Out of Africa
I “get” women of a certain age. I’m a certain age:
During first part of my elementary school tour of duty girls weren’t allowed to wear pants. If it was a super cold day you were allowed to wear pants under your skirt or dress. How are you supposed to play on the monkey bars with a dress on? I learned later I’m not cut out for monkey bars when I managed to fall off and break my arm. But that’s not the point.
Early days of my career women were required to wear dark color skirt suits. I got a little booklet at orientation that told me my hair was too long (had to be cut or bunned so I became the bun lady), nails were too long, earrings too big and shoes didn’t have the right kind of heels. I was coached by my boss – an amazing ex-nun – not to smile too much or I wouldn’t be taken seriously as the only woman in the room.
(Ask me about the time a male manager threw a big black rotary dial telephone when I was tasked to give him “feedback” on his leadership style…)
Download a bio
One page pdf bio here.