Julie M. Lawson, M.A., CCMP
President + CEO
Julie Lawson has 20 years' experience as a CEO, leadership trainer, strategy consultant and women's leadership expert. She provides leadership development and training services, as well as nonprofit administration, to a variety of clients including:
Julie formerly served as Vice President of Programs at FOCUS St. Louis where she became the initial Executive Director of the Missouri Supreme Court's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in addition to providing leadership training and program oversight. Prior to FOCUS, Julie served for 10 years as CEO of the Crime Victim Advocacy Center, the nation's oldest victim service agency and as the first Executive Director of the Women's Foundation of Greater St. Louis.
Her career has been dedicated to advancing women in leadership as well as strengthening the community footprint of more than 30 nonprofit and socially-conscious companies. She has trained more than 500 leaders in leadership programs and customized workshops.
Julie holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and is certified in Change Leadership through Cornell University. She is a certified trainer in Diversity and Inclusion with the U.S. Department of Justice and a certified Terrorism Victimization Expert by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Julie has been recognized by the City of St. Louis, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Committee on Armed Services for her work with victims of violence and trauma.
As an entrepreneur, Julie founded and sold three businesses, leading to a deep commitment to women’s entrepreneurship initiatives. She served as a founding committee member of Prosper Women's Entrepreneurs and is a member of RISE Collaborative Workspace for women entrepreneurs.
Julie is a frequent speaker on women's leadership, issues of unconscious bias, overcoming trauma, emotional intelligence, and leadership strategies. In her spare time, she loves to sing, read, write, battle with craft glue on several unfinished craft projects, and, of course, spend time with family and friends.
Main Phone: 314.853.6063
St. Louis Headquarters:
222 S. Meramec Ave., Suite 202
Clayton, MO 63105
St. Louis | Kansas City | Denver | Chicago
Abby S. Howard, MSW, LCSW, CPCC
Abby Howard, MSW, LCSW, CPCC is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach with over 10 years of experience working in and with non-profits.
After completing her Master of Social Work from The Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis she became the lead organizer for the Eastern District of Missouri’s anti-trafficking coalition, increasing its impact by over 50% in her first year. From there, Abby’s passion for working with people one-on-one drew her to a non-profit providing services with youth experiencing homelessness. In this role she became an expert in trauma-informed care and creating cultures that are supportive to not only clients, but direct care staff, clinicians, and the administration for the highest quality work to be provided.
Three years ago, Abby launched her virtual private coaching practice focused on working with men and women who want to improve their well-being, confidence, and success through one-on-one coaching sessions. She completed her coaching certification through The Coaches Training Institute, a world-renowned coach training program, which is known for helping clients become their best self both personally and professionally. She loves working with leaders at all levels within non-profits to help them tap into their fullest potential to lead courageous, joy-filled, high-impact lives.
Abby currently resides in Denver, CO and serves as adjunct faculty at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. She provides training in trauma-informed care and is the Denver Principal for Sentient Strategy. In her free-time she enjoys hiking with her dog, gardening, and spending time with friends and loved ones.
Jennifer D. Franklin, JD, MBA
Jennifer Franklin is a passionate advocate for career development and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIBs) with experience spanning the corporate, nonprofit, and academic sectors.
Most recently, Jennifer was the Human Resource Manager for Global Talent and Organization Development supporting the Industrial Group of Ecolab (a global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services to the food, energy, healthcare, industrial, and hospitality markets). In this role, Jennifer focused on sharpening the use of talent analytics to enable business decisions, advancing diversity and inclusion efforts, and delivering on employee engagement action plans.
In the nonprofit space, Jennifer served as Program Associate & Alumni Advisor at LifeWise STL where she worked with program alumni on identifying educational and/or career goals; and aided in the creation of concrete strategies to achieve those goals. Moreover, she fostered partnerships with local universities, trade schools, resource providers, and community-based organizations.
Jennifer formerly served as Assistant Dean for Career Services at Southern Illinois University School of Law, where she served as the chief administrative officer for the law school’s Office of Career Services. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations, she routinely coached students and alumni on their career strategies. Additionally, she created and facilitated educational seminars and workshops for students and alumni. Jennifer served on various internal and external committees such as the Office of Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee. Furthermore, she coordinated diversity initiatives on behalf the law school by partnering with minority student groups and faculty on projects and presentations; engaging in recruitment efforts; and representing the law school at diversity events.
Prior to her transition into the career development and DEIBs arena, Jennifer had a diverse career in the legal field serving as an Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, as Staff Attorney at Polsinelli PC, and as Legislative Analyst for the City of St. Louis Board of Alderman. Jennifer is a Prosci Certified Change Practitioner and has an EEO Investigator Certification from the EEOC Training Institute. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technologies from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, her Juris Doctor from University of Akron School of Law, and her MBA from Washington University Olin Business School.
Jennifer currently resides in Chicago, IL where she enjoys trying new restaurants, volunteering with local nonprofits, and spending time with friends.
Sara Johnson has over a decade of experience working at the intersection of communications, development, and community engagement. Drawing from academic work in Anthropology, Environmental Studies, and Organizational Development, Sara's professional work has supported the missions and visions of business and nonprofit leaders. She's brought her expertise to a number of causes including: sustainable agriculture, green business development, public media, and women's rights.
Sara helped build successful development and communications strategies for prominent Twin Cities nonprofits including Minnesota Public Radio, Global Rights for Women, and Macalester College. She is also a frequent contributor to staff-driven institutional improvement initiatives. Sara has a Certificate in Organizational Leadership and is a Co-Active Coach in training. She continues to develop her skills in conflict resolution, inclusive leadership, and strategic communications.
Sara is energized by working with individuals and organizations confronting change. Her passion is supporting people and institutions in taking bold and decisive steps in a new direction or moving through growing pains with confidence. Sara dedicates much of her time and energy to supporting emerging leaders and particularly young women as they chart their career paths. She loves being a part of visionary work that connects people with their purpose and helps motivate them to take action.
Sara currently resides in her hometown of St. Louis, MO after nearly two decades "up north" in Minnesota. In her free time she enjoys discovering neighborhoods by foot, writing, gardening, and cooking for loved ones.