Max Freund, Partner

Max Freund is a coach, consultant, and program evaluator specializing in growing collective leadership for transformational change. Max’s passion for collaboration and systems-level changemaking has guided his work in places ranging from California to Africa and Latin America.

He specializes in coaching leadership teams to apply evidence-based practices in shared leadership, systems thinking, and organizational learning.

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Max’s background in coaching and organizational development consulting features extensive work in technical, health, higher education, and human services fields. He has provided counsel on leadership and organizational effectiveness to companies in the medical, construction, and philanthropic sectors. Engagements have included leadership team coaching, culture change, organizational assessment and audits, board/governance development, strategic planning, and program evaluation.

Max holds an MA in Psychology with a concentration in Organizational Behavior from Claremont Graduate University, where he completed Ph.D. coursework and preliminary qualifying requirements. He also holds a Master’s in Intercultural & International Management from SIT Graduate Institute. In his volunteer leadership he is a Board Member of The Alliance for Nonprofit Management, the national voice and catalyst for nonprofit organizational effectiveness and sustainability.

Having lived in Mexico, India, Africa, and Central America, Max loves traveling internationally and exploring the multicultural musical and culinary landscape of the Los Angeles region. He is a dedicated practitioner of self-inquiry and mindfulness practices, including over 19 years in the ManKind Project (where he is a Co-Leader Candidate) and 9 years as a student of the Ridhwan School’s Diamond Approach. He also enjoys running, road cycling, and hiking in the San Gabriel foothills.


Cynthia Luna, Partner

Providing services in the United States and Latin America, Cynthia Luna is co-founder of Praxsys Leadership, a leadership development firm dedicated to supporting individuals, teams and organizations to fulfill their purpose with excellence.

Cynthia is a Certified Integral Coach and serves as faculty in the highly respected global coach-training program at New Ventures West, based in San Francisco.

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Cynthia’s clients describe her coaching style as an artful weaving together of in-depth methodology with direct yet compassionate feedback and a movement to action. She combines cross-sectorial experience with an extensive knowledge of leadership development, executive coaching and group dynamics. This expertise enables her to help clients gain self-awareness and move forward on their goals with a better understanding of how their experience and environment impact their ability to create sustainable change.

As a coach and consultant she has designed and implemented leadership development, executive and group coaching programs in English and in Spanish, supporting the alignment of diverse multifunctional teams. She has supported organizations and leaders managing small- and large-scale change, adapting and growing in new leadership roles, moving through strategic realignments, integrating multicultural teams and becoming more effective leaders.

Cynthia has a history of pioneering leadership in business and community development, serving diverse industries including technology, manufacturing, education, healthcare, and nonprofit, among others. Her professional background has included leadership positions in multinational corporations (such as ADC Telecommunications), finance and economic development (ShoreBank Advisory Services), and health policy (Latino Health Collaborative). This has given her an experience base to understand the on-the-job pressures and challenges her clients have to overcome and enables her to work with them on creating strategies that are effective, pragmatic and transformational. She also served as Teaching Faculty on Human Development for Social Leadership in the Masters of Social Impact program at Claremont Lincoln University.

She is certified as an Integral Coach by New Ventures West and holds the Professional Coach Certification (PCC) from the International Coach Federation. She has an MBA in Organizational Development and Operations from Loyola University Chicago.

Cynthia has a passion for international voluntary service, and has held leadership positions in NGOs such as the World Alliance of YMCAs in Geneva, Switzerland. She loves traveling, painting, running, yoga and enjoying world music and dance.


Pearl Marquez, Communication & Administration Coordinator

Pearl Marquez holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Positive Organizational Psychology &Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University.

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During her undergraduate career, Pearl investigated and researched the benefits of mindfulness training at an organizational level, specifically within leaders. Pearl has presented her research findings at conferences, including the Rocky Mountain Psychology Association in Denver, Colorado.
Currently, through her studies and ponderings, her research interests reside at understanding how mindful leaders can encourage or facilitate more sustainable behavior. Additionally, coming from a small town in Wyoming, Pearl is curious about how small locally owned businesses approach leadership development.
Her deep sense of curiosity has led to her passion for biofeedback and understanding how the body collaborates with the mind and environment. This came especially handy during her years as a high school athlete and continues to supplement her passion for running, yoga, and weight training. If the outdoors is involved in exercise, even better.

Jennifer Hooten, Associate

Jenn Hooten supports people in the midst of transformation. As a coach and organizational culture consultant, she walks with individuals and teams as each navigates change, processes conflict, and narrows the gap between personal values and business objectives. Her work is uniquely fueled by a commitment to bring compassion unapologetically into the workplace.

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Through design and facilitation of leadership development programs, individual and team coaching, systems and culture transformation, and conflict transformation services, Jenn’s holds a dual awareness for the health of individuals and the larger organizational context simultaneously.

Clients span sector, size, and industry and include the tech, pharmaceutical, healthcare, hospitality, nonprofit and government arenas. Integrating her own experience as an executive, Jenn offers a nuanced and pragmatic understanding of how compassion enlivens organizational contexts.

In addition to degrees in Psychology (undergraduate) and Ethical Leadership (graduate), credentials that shape her work include:

  • Executive Graduate, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (Google)
  • Evolutionary Coaching Consultant, Barrett Values Centre
  • Practitioner, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
  • Facilitator, The Compassion Practice
  • Program Director, The Center for Engaged Compassion
  • Curriculum Designer, Charter for Compassion’s Education Institute

When not working with clients, Jenn can be found in the midst of her own unfolding transformation that looks (on the outside) like quilting, journaling, meditation, yoga, listening to people’s stories, baking and singing. She works with clients in the United States and abroad, and makes her home among the vineyards of Santa Barbara county California with her husband, daughter and two rescue dogs.


Sahar Azarabadi, Integral Coach

Sahar Azarabadi is devoted to helping organizations, leaders, and high-performance teams work together more effectively and skillfully. Her focus is on the growth and development of professionals in order to cultivate long-term excellence in performance including strategy, productivity and communication.

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Sahar’s clients report many of the following outcomes:

  • Improved capacity to inquire, listen, respond and lead others with respect, empathy and compassion
  • Greater skill in building trust and credibility with executive leadership team or board, team, colleagues and customers
  • Deeper, more centered leadership presence, particularly amidst conflict or challenge
  • Improved ability to build powerful networks of support and influence others
  • Increased capacity for creativity and innovation

Sahar brings a deep background of over fifteen years management and executive level leadership experience in sales, marketing and business development to her coaching, facilitation, training, and workshops. She is a certified Integral Coach® from New Ventures West and a Leadership Embodiment Associate.

Sahar works with emerging to executive level leaders in biotech/pharma, medical device/diagnostics, healthcare, hospitality, technology, and insurance and financial services. She is focused on improving organizational capabilities and culture, developing leaders who are aligned with purpose, improving communication across teams and within organizations, fostering deep listening to build trust, and cultivating emotional intelligence to foster collaboration across teams.

She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.  Sahar is a lifelong learner and committed to personal and professional development in order to best serve her clients and the world. She is fluent in English, Farsi and Turkish. Her upbringing and extensive world travel have cultivated and enabled cross-cultural awareness and appreciation. She is a long-time student of Eastern and Western traditions, philosophy and poetry— particularly Plato, Rumi and David Whyte. She is also a mindfulness practitioner, avid traveler, and lover of music.


Dawn Brown, Integral Coach

Dawn brings over 25 years of leadership, coaching and organizational consulting experience to leaders and teams in the private, public and non-profit sectors. Prior to being an independent coach & consultant she worked for a large telecommunications company in various leadership roles and business units. She has done expansive work with executives and managers in a wide range of organizations including telecommunications, health care, biotech, financial institutions, residential & commercial builders and law firms.

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Her coaching approach is based on a developmental, integral methodology. Dawn’s coaching style, a blend of, inquiry, rigor, and compassion, supports clients to learn new competencies needed to be outstanding leaders. Together with her clients she builds measurable, behavioral outcomes.

She is currently on faculty for New Ventures West Coaching School where she provides mentoring and coaching to future coaches. She is credentialed through the International Coach Federation and has served on the board for the Professional Coach & Mentors Association (PCMA)

From a very early age I have been intrigued about how individuals are able to embrace change while others seem immune, what dynamic prevents us from changing. I have discovered so many important components that include clarity of vision, strong communication skills and the importance of being guided as we navigate the fast pace of change. I have dedicated much of my adult life to understanding the impact the conversations we engage in (or don’t) impact our effectiveness in life. How are the conversations we have with ourselves and others impacting how our life turns out? I believe through our conversations we can experience clarity of vision, allowing for increased possibilities, creativity and empowerment all of which are necessary skills for leaders today.


Laura Hughes, Integral Coach

Laura has more than 15 years of global leadership, consulting and coaching experience spanning Fortune 500 companies and fast growth start ups. The common thread through her career is a passion for supporting and enabling people to thrive.

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Laura started her career supporting senior leaders as a Consultant at Bain & Company before running a successful Food and Beverage start up (Nuun). As Director of Food Strategy at Starbucks she led a large scale customer insights program, oversaw efficiency improvement initiatives and launched a series of new products, with a focus on enhancing health and wellness.

At Qantas Airways, she led the development of the strategic plan for the CEO and Executive Committee, prior to leading International Customer Service, a role in which she was responsible for the training & development of 4500 International Cabin Crew and Airports Staff, and the customer contact center. As a Leadership Consultant, Facilitator and Coach, Laura excels at guiding her clients through the creation of a compelling purpose, vision and strategy. She inspires people to systematically move toward their goals, while supporting them to deepen the competencies and capacity required to do so.

Laura believes in the power of purpose, creativity and collaboration to enable people to generate meaningful impact. She understands the value of a trusted sounding board to support forward momentum. Her clients describe her as bold, action-oriented, optimistic, insightful, and committed to creating positive change.

An avid explorer of external as well as internal landscapes, Laura loves to travel, mountain bike, surf and hike. She is a trained yoga teacher, has cooked at a farm-to-table restaurant, and contributed to a cookbook. Laura holds a BA and a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge, and is a certified coach through New Ventures West, where she mentors trainee coaches.


Krista Jensen, Research Associate

Krista Jensen applies research methods and empirical evidence to enhance Praxsys Leadership’s programs with the organization’s diverse clientele. She brings a strengths-based approach rooted in positive psychology research to promote leadership development at the individual and systems levels.

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In her role at Praxsys Leadership, Krista utilizes her expertise in quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis in conjunction with extensive knowledge of organizational development and organizational behavior. With experience in both individual leader assessment and program evaluation, she supports our focus on promoting individual strengths while deepening learning and impact for our clients and in our own team.

In the past, Krista has consulted with both nonprofit and for-profit companies on projects related to organizational strategy, effective communication, culture, leader development, training development, and program evaluation. She has also contributed to publications pertaining to women’s leadership development across cultures and the use of mixed-methods in evaluation and conservation. Krista has presented at local and international conferences, including the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Leadership Symposium in Corfu, Greece.

She is a PhD student in Claremont Graduate University’s Positive Organizational Psychology program conducting research on women’s leadership and the ways in which organizations can improve pathways for women in their careers. In alignment with this, she is also obtaining a certificate in Women and Gender Studies.

Krista is passionate about nature and spends most of her free time outside, whether gardening, exploring new hikes, or playing team sports. She also enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, leaning into her creative side, and crossing paths with as many dogs as possible.


Melinda Stephenson

Melinda Stephenson is a coach and consultant with over 22 years of experience in human development on an individual, team and organization level. She provides an excellent balance of strategic vision, coaching, and operational execution abilities.

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Melinda provides outcome-based coaching to senior teams and senior executives. Her coaching is a blend of pragmatic guidance and curious exploration into the underlying assumptions and thought patterns which support leadership performance. She draws on her knowledge of Integral development, neuroscience, positive psychology, emotional intelligence and mindfulness to help leaders and their teams expand possibilities and realize their potential. She has helped clients build new skills in areas such as strategic thinking, influence and persuasiveness, relationship and conflict management.

Melinda’s areas of expertise include:

  • Supporting women in senior leadership roles
  • Helping leaders understand and coach their staff to expand capabilities
  • Communication skills to address challenging politics and relationships at all levels in the hierarchy
  • Managing complex change and culture shifts

Melinda also builds talent strategies for high-growth, global clients and she has completed extensive work in the creation of leadership development program design. She is curriculum designer and co-founder of The Leadership Room, a one-year learning experience for high potential executives.

Prior to her career as a coach and consultant, Melinda held senior positions in Human Resources. She served as VP of HR and Sr. Director of Organization Development for Gap, Inc., providing consulting support to the CEO and leadership team. In these roles, she designed and executed human capital strategy to expand the talent pipeline and build global general manager skills. She also managed large-scale change efforts in product innovation, sourcing/inventory management, HR training strategy, and brand marketing. Melinda has also held HR business partner roles at American Express and Macy’s.

Melinda earned her Integral Coach® certification with New Ventures West in 2004, where she also serves as faculty. She holds a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, and certifications in Booth Task Cycle 360° Leadership Surveys, PDI Profilor tools, Lominger Voices & Career Architect, Myers-Briggs Personality Type Instrument (MBTI), and others. In her volunteer service, she is a mentor and leadership curriculum designer for SHE CAN, catalyzing global change by supporting the education and development of women from post-conflict countries. She also volunteers as a program facilitator at San Quentin State Prison for Insight Prison Project. Helping those who are incarcerated to develop behaviors guided by insight, accountability and compassion.