A Tribute to Joanne Killmeyer


Joanne Killmeyer was a driving force in why I became a coach and I want to pay tribute to her legacy publicly. Joanne passed this summer, leaving me and many of her former students and mentees bereft, missing her wisdom and deep sense of compassion.

I met Joanne years ago. She and some of her students from the NYU coaching program were working as pro bono coaches for women entrepreneurs at an organization I ran in New York City. She encouraged me to take her coaching course because she said I was a “natural.” I did, and I never looked back.

Joanne was a gifted teacher: well prepared, highly knowledgeable, and deeply empathetic. When my cohort graduated, she gave each of us a symbolic gift representing the progress that we’d made during the coaching program. Mine was a clapperboard (think “action” and “cut” on a movie set) but made out of plush toy fabric (not hard, brittle wood). Brilliant.

Joanne continued to be my personal coach — officially and unofficially — for years after I completed NYU’s coaching program. She was a critical sounding board as I developed my coaching frameworks and style. She also trained and certified me in Wiley’s stable of assessments that became central to my coaching and facilitating work, specifically, the various DiSC® tools, 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team and 363, their insightful 360 process (more on this in a future email).

Joanne’s legacy to me is deep and wide. Here are three lessons from Joanne that I find relevant to all of us who self-identify as life-long learners. First, she helped me realize that we all need strategies and tools to hold ourselves accountable for our personal development. In my coaching practice, action plans are critical and in our personal lives, clear communications with our loved ones about our aspirations can serve a similar purpose. Second, Joanne taught me to embrace the opportunity to deepen my coaching skills from all of my interactions — not only the professional ones but personal ones too. In other words, we can't separate who we are in our personal lives from how we show up at work. There are learning opportunities in each domain that transfer to the other. Finally, she helped me understand the value and power of spirituality in one's life — whatever form it takes — and she always led in this realm through example.

I continue to feel the void that Joanne’s passing has left. I am deeply appreciative of her wisdom and legacy, and truly strive to put it into action daily in my coaching work and personal life.