Getting To Know Coach Donna



Why am I with PowerUP?

For me, PowerUP’s mission was one I’ve personally been in touch with. The idea of helping others achieve lasting change is such a powerful motivator. PowerUP inspires women with constant support, education, and accountability. The ladies I work with aren’t just losing weight, they are out to make lifestyle change.

What has drawn me to coaching?

I used to work at the Pentagon with a colleague, Ryan, whose father died of heart disease. He had accepted that his fate was going to be the same. I would go for my workout every day, and eventually Ryan started joining in. By the end of the year, we ran the Army ten miler together.

He went on to become a Navy Captain, and I, an Army Colonel, and we were stationed in different parts of the world. Many years later, Ryan called to thank me for saving his life. He had just suffered a heart attack – though by this point he had outlived his father – and the doctors told him that the regiment of nutrition and exercise that he began at the pentagon was the reason he was still living.

This was the first time I felt that I’d changed someone’s life through coaching. I held Ryan accountable, helped him achieve what he wanted to, and was there to support him along the way. He changed his mindset, led a healthier lifestyle, and was alive to tell the tale.

Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you.
— Emerson

What is your perspective on coaching?

I think of myself like a Sherpa. I help clients read the map and find the way, but ultimately the destination of our journey together is up to them. Coaching is all about understanding an individual’s needs, and meeting them where they are. When I started coaching, I used to have a ritual where I’d back the car out of the garage and say “Bye, Donna”, so I remembered to leave myself and my personal life behind. (I even have a Post-It on my computer that says “It’s not about you”) This let me really listen to my clients at a deeper level, and create a space for non-judgmental reflection.

As a coach, I believe I walk with people, not before them. And along the way, I help them develop the tools they’ll need to coach themselves. The leadership skills I learned in the military and at West Point helped me to lead people in their own change.

Have you had an influential coach? What has coaching given to you?

When I was at West Point, I wasn’t a great runner, and it was one part of academy life that I struggled with. Eventually, I enlisted the help of Coach Sherman – West Point’s Track Coach. He, like all other great coaches, believed in me more than I believed in myself. Fast forward a number of years, and I had completed the Ironman Triathlon at the age of fifty. Not only did I run 26.2 miles, but I did it after a grueling bike and swim. 


What is your coaching philosophy?

Set goals as big and as exciting as you can. I’ll be here to help you figure out how to get there. I coach because I believe in the talent, creativity, and resourcefulness of people -- and because I celebrate people achieving their dreams.

Fun facts:

I've parachuted from airplanes, bungee jumped from the Karawau Bridge in New Zealand, completed the Snowman Trek in Bhutan, graduated with the third class of women at West Point and completed an IronMan (in the top 10 in my age group) in my fiftieth year.  I am off the scales on Duckworth's grit test -- and believe Carol Dweck knows my life story. 

I've learned you never get to go back to a practice/training day once the race pistol sounds -- and being in the game means being present and purposeful every step of the way (there are no "re-do's" in life).