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Carole Ann Penney, CPC, develops mission-driven leaders. She coaches professionals seeking more meaningful careers and new & mid-level leaders who want to lead more authentically and effectively. Carole Ann guides her clients to articulate their vision for who they are at their best and helps them design a strategic plan to bring that vision to life. As a result, clients step into new leadership roles with confidence, become more effective managers, and ultimately support more impactful organizations.

Carole Ann has a B.A. in Education Studies from Brown University and holds certifications in nonprofit management & leadership (Tufts University) and professional coaching (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching).

Most recently, Carole Ann was the Associate Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, where she was responsible for leading organizational culture & employee development, strategic planning and implementation, and operations. She is a member of The Lady Project’s Board of Directors, and mentors emerging female leaders through Brown University's Women's Launch Pad Program. When she is not coaching, she’s developing the most important emerging leader in her life—her two year old daughter, Avery Jean.


My Story

From feeling off track to strategic leadership

Five years after I graduated from Brown University, I was invited to my alma mater to speak on a “Life After Graduation” panel.

As the six panelists began to introduce ourselves to the room of 150 seniors, I realized the panel makeup was this: banker, entrepreneur, med student, wealth manager, smartphone app inventor, and little old me—the Administrative Coordinator at a nonprofit.

I felt my heart fall down into my shoes as I told my post-graduation story—it felt less like a narrative and more like a series of random events. The other panelists' paths seemed coherent, confident, and accomplished.

When I left the auditorium afterward, I wanted to melt into the ground and disappear.

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I felt like I was on the wrong path, or worse—that I wasn't on a path at all.

I was wasting my education and, measured against my peers, I felt unaccomplished and small.

“There is a lovely root to the word humiliation—from the latin word humus, meaning soil or ground,” writes poet David Whyte. “When we are humiliated, we are in effect returning to the ground of our being.”

Looking back now, I know that I was exactly where I needed to be on my career journey—even if it didn't feel that way at the time. I needed to feel utterly lost in order to think about what I really wanted out of my career, what my core strengths and values were, and how I could best share my unique gifts with the world.

That's when I started writing my personal Strategic Plan.

My strategic plan led me to becoming a Certified Professional Coach (CPC), to taking initiative on new responsibilities at my nonprofit that would lead me to a leadership role that was built around my strengths and skills, and to comprehensive training programs to hone my management and leadership expertise.

Developing my strategic plan led me to uncover and activate my self-knowledge in a way that guides how I navigate every career decision I make and how I show up as an effective leader each and every day—with clarity, confidence, and purpose.

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I want my clients to feel empowered with this same self-knowledge. I want you to go from feeling lost & directionless to confident & purposeful.

It’s not about searching outside of yourself and “finding” your purpose—this process is all about giving you the space and tools to uncover the wisdom and guidance that is already within you, draw it all out for us to work with, organize it, articulate it, and act on bringing all that possibility to life.

The strategic planning process is an opportunity to synthesize all of your training and experiences and purposefully define where you go from here—so that you can build an intentional career path and step into your authentic leadership.