Executive Coaching to Independent School Heads

I enjoy working with educational and corporate leaders both here, in Washington DC in “real-time,” and nationally via phone and retreats. Since the late eighties, I’ve have provided executive coaching to independent school heads, board chairs, trustees, faculty, parents and students. I’ve published and presented, extensively, on this topic. Over the last several years, I have coached University Leaders. Beyond this, I am a clinical psychologist, a Supervising and Training Analyst, a Board Certified Psychoanalyst who is in full-time, private practice a mile and a half from border of Washington DC in Maryland, I provide psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

For me, there’s a natural synergy between my two loves: executive coaching to school heads and trustees and clinical work. At Carnegie Mellon (1985 – 1999), I taught within the Heinz School’s Executive Program for Principals and School Heads as well as within the Psychology Department. Similarly,  at Johns Hopkins (1999 – current), I taught Organizational Consultation within the Business School and, currently, teach within the Mental Health Counseling Program.

If you think I can be helpful, feel free to reach out to me (240-483-3530). Because I practice during the day, the easiest time to reach me is between 6 pm – 8 pm EST. Your call is welcome.

Here are some of the questions that I get asked:

Can you help strengthen the School head/Board chair relationship (governance)?  Yes. I work with school heads and board chairs to establish, and solidify, a strong working relationship. Being a Head of School in the current climate is challenging to say the very least. I help board chairs and trustees identify ways that they can support the head in building a healthy school. We want heads to be visionaries. But, with the threat of rapid turnover, that’s virtually impossible. I work to create a containing environment in which the head of school, the board chair and trustees can work collaboratively.

Can you help us to navigate organizational change?  Yes. I’ve worked with board chairs and heads of school I work with heads of school, board chairs and trustees support the head of school and trustees to work with all constituencies to provide a stable foundation from which to create meaningful change when that is their goal. I’ve presented and written on this topic, extensively, at the NAIS annual conference, at FCIS, AIMS, AISGW, Johns Hopkins and elsewhere.

    • New head transition and welcoming the “first family”. Years ago, I consulted to the National Association of Independent Schools to develop what was then, the First Families program.  With input from Barbara Bassett, I wrote, “A toolkit for trustees”, addressed how to be welcome school heads”. I know more, now, but that article was a starting point. One of the keys to a successful head is a successful first family.
    • Head departures. I work with schools around head, and administrator, departures. Here’s an article that I wrote on this topic in my nationally-syndicated, Washington Business Journal column, Corporations on the Couch.
    • School (organizational) dynamics.
    • organizational culture
    • navigating change
    • adjusting to significant changes in the independent school market
    • reducing stress for the head of school and their family
    • partnering with parents
    • helping to co-educate an all boys middle school
  • building healthy schools
  • developing preventative wellness programs
  • outreach to the counseling and mental health community
  • community outreach
  • head-parent relations
  • faculty development
  • inclusivity
  • other challenges.


Consultation with independent school leaders
Dr. Friedman consults to independent school leaders


NAIS Articles On Organizational Consultation In The Independent Schools (A few representative articles)

  • First families: A Toolkit for Trustees The inception of a new head marks a period of transition for the board, the faculty, the students, the parents, and the head. However, virtually no attention has been given to the transitions of the spouses and children of heads. This article is devoted describing how the head and the first family can successfully navigate a safe passage to a gratifying headship.
  • Faculty Professional Development: A Primer for School Leader Effective professional development programs engender an atmosphere of excitement, intellectual stimulation, and collegiality. Yet, many independent schools lack these programs. Why would independent schools fail to develop a “community of life-long learners” among the faculty? How can these obstacles be overcome?
  • Previously published at NAIS: Organizational Change In The Independent School (Please note: this is a pdf) Implementing organizational changes in the independent school poses some unique and special challenges. What is the nature of these challenges? How might leadership identify “resistances” and increase collaboration? How might leadership mobilize the entire school community to participate in organizational assessment? Each will be addressed in turn.
  • Organizational Assessment in the Independent School: Crisis as an Inadvertent Assessment Tool. This article, was originally written following September 11, 2001, examines how crisis – in the independent school – can be used an an organizational assessment tool. Although it focuses on 911, the ideas detailed can be applied to any independent school crisis.

NAIS Presentations (A few representative talks)

Friedman, L, Wise, V, Saxenian, M, Make New Friends But Keep the Old: Including “Outside” Trustees on Your Board. 2017 NAIS Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD, 2017 March.

Friedman L, Wise, V. Not for trustees only: 10 steps to reading your head’s mind. 2013 NAIS Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA, 2013 February.

Friedman L, Kleger E. From healthy governance to healthy schools: five steps for sustainability. 2008 NAIS Annual Conference, NY, NY; 2008 March.

Friedman L. Creating effective professional development programs: enhancing faculty recruitment and retention. 2006 NAIS Annual Conference, Boston MA; 2006 March.

Friedman L, Kleger E, Skulnik S. Healthy governance for healthy schools: one route to sustainability. 2006 NAIS Annual Conference, Boston MA; 2006 March.

Friedman L, Bassett, B. First families: a toolkit for administrators. Presented at 2004 NAIS Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada; 2004 March.

Friedman L. Creating effective professional development programs: Enhancing faculty retention. Presented at the NAIS Annual Conference, New York, NY, 2002 February.

Friedman L. Organizational change in the independent school. Presented at the NAIS Annual Conference, Boston MA, 2001 March.

A Biographical Sketch

I am a clinical psychologist, a board certified, psychoanalyst, and an executive coach and organizational consultant to independent school leaders. Also, I serve on the faculty of Johns Hopkins.

I earned my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 1985; I was awarded an NIMH pre-doctoral fellowship, a Provost Development Fellowship, numerous Teaching Fellowships. Also, NIMH provided funding for my doctoral research. My doctoral research was co-chaired by faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and at Carnegie Mellon University. Both my masters, and doctoral, research examined clinical decision making through a broad lens which touched on issue of race, SES and inclusivity. A vital and intensive part of my doctoral training was in family systems, organizational consultation, humanistic psychotherapy and cognitive-behavior therapy, with a focus on middle school children, adolescents, young adults, couples and families in outpatient and inpatient settings.

From 1988 – 1999, I maintained a private practice in Pittsburgh. After several years of clinical experience, I completed a seven year postdoctoral, psychoanalytic training program. I moved to the Washington in 1999 and opened a full-time, private practice.

Since 1989, I have provided consultation to independent school leaders, faculty and families. I have presented, and written, extensively for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and other educational associations. From 1989-1998, I served as an organizational and clinical consultant to Shady Side Academy Middle School and to other Pittsburgh area independent schools. In 2000, I provided organizational consultation at NAIS. From 2002 – 2015, I provided consultation to the head of the Village Community School in NYC.

Currently, I provide consultation to school heads, both locally, and nationally. My organizational consultation and executive coaching focuses on: governance (particularly board chair-head relations), nurturing a productive board chair/head relationship, organizational change, faculty professional development, new head transition, supporting the head’s family, head arrivals and departures, school culture, school dynamics, inclusivity, community outreach, developing preventative counseling programs and related areas.

From 2015 – 2021, one of my most gratifying activities has been serving on the board of the McLean School of Maryland, I served as Chair of the Governance Committee and on the Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Committee.

I have been teaching at the university level since 1979. From 1986 – 1999, I taught at Carnegie Mellon University in Psychology and in the Heinz School of Public Policy. In the latter setting, I taught principals-in-training; this cohort included independent school heads. Since 1999, I have taught graduate students at Johns Hopkins University, in the business school and in the School of Education. In the business school, I taught courses on Organizational Consultation and Needs Assessment; these courses explored organizational leader/trustee relationships, leader retention, governance, organizational dynamics, professional development, morale, leading diverse teams for competitive advantage, inclusivity, community outreach and related topics. In the clinical arena, I teach psychodynamic psychotherapy, executive coaching as well as other courses.

I am a Board Certified Psychoanalyst and a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Washington Baltimore Psychoanalytic Institute. This means that I have been vetted to supervise, and treat, psychoanalysts-in-training.  From 2014 – 2017, I chaired the Institute’s psychoanalytic fellowship program. In this role, I successfully recruited and embraced an unusually diverse cohort with respect educational and economic background, culture and race. Also, as a part of this cohort we included emerging leaders in the field of education. Also, In 2013, I was recognized as Teacher of the Year.

In the psychoanalytic and psychological arena, I presented on workplace and school inhibitions at both the local and national level. Also, I published pioneering work in the area of psychoanalytically-informed, career assessment.

I devote the bulk of my time to my private practice on the Washington DC border (Friendship Heights) where I see adolescents, adults, couples and families. I provide a range of services including, evaluation, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and career & executive coaching. Beyond this, I supervise psychoanalysts-in-training and provide clinical consultation to psychologists and other mental health clinicians. In addition to being a psychologist and a psychoanalyst, I am a certified as a Master Career Counselor. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and love integrating my diverse interests to create innovation in education and psychology.

I’ve written extensively on both organizational dynamics in the independent schools and corporate dynamics. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has published my articles on navigating change, building healthy schools, head of school/trustee relationships and more. My Washington Business Journal column, Corporations on the Couch, has been nationally-syndicated. Also, I have presented extensively at educational conferences throughout the United States and beyond.

I'm interested in exploring a consultation with you, what's my next step?

I provide psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, clinical consultation, supervision & executive coaching. If you are seeking consultation from a psychologist, psychoanalyst, in DC, feel free to call me: 240.483.3530.