Thriving Leadership Formation

Personal, Professional, & Spiritual Guidance

Coaching &
Spiritual Direction

Our Coaches & Spiritual Directors are for leaders and participants in our Thriving Leadership Formation Cohort Groups (past and present) and Executive Skills for Church Leaders program only. 

It is important to us that you choose the Coach or Spiritual Director you want to connect with. We know each person seeking these resources come with different experiences, hopes, and needs. We invite you to take a deep breath to center yourself, pray, and then review the information about each Coach and/or Spiritual Director. Listen to your body, see what surfaces as you read, listen, and engage with the bio’s below. Let the Holy Spirit lead you. Thank you for your interest, and for journeying with us to see how the possibility of a Coach or Spiritual Director coming alongside you in life and ministry helps you thrive.

If you are interested, we encourage you to follow the instructions below on how to “connect” with a Spiritual Director or Coach as soon as possible. Space is limited, due to the budget for this program.

TLF will cover the cost of 6 sessions with the Coach or Spiritual Director you choose. 

Once you have reviewed the information below and chosen who you would like to partner with, click the Coach or Spiritual Director’s Connect button. This will bring you to their Intake Form – completing this form is the first step in ensuring a spot in this program. Once you have completed this form, the Coach or Spiritual Director will reach out to you to coordinate plans moving forward.

All sessions will be held via an online platform (ie. Zoom, GoogleHangout).  You will work directly with your Coach or Spiritual Director to coordinate the time and frequency of your sessions. 

Each participant will be eligible for 6 total sessions through TLF, with either a Coach or Spiritual Director. Should you be interested in continuing a further partnership, we encourage you to have a conversation with your Coach or Spiritual Director.


Our Coaches partner with you in thought-provoking and creative processes to inspire you to maximize your personal and professional potential.

Vera McEwen (she/her)


I am a professional C-Suite level coach, speaker, and trainer with over 25 years’ experience in managing leadership development, organizational communications, cross-functional team development. I use my combined leadership and systems engineering and project management knowledge to create an exemplary user, participant, client, and customer experience. I am an ordained pastor. I use the Word of God as my foundation and as a means to communicate self-care, collaboration, and compassion. In addition, I have successfully implemented small and large projects including but not limited to systems, network / infrastructure upgrades, multimillion-dollar software implementations and construction projects.

Rob Schellert (he/him)


As someone who is passionate about exploring creative ways of being church as well as creative ways to engage with the local community, I have spent the last 20 years starting and leading innovative faith based communities and nonprofit organizations. I’ve worked in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Egypt, just to name a few countries. As an ICF ACC credentialed coach, there is nothing more that I enjoy than supporting leaders in their growth, through transitions and in innovating creative ways to engage with their communities, while balancing care for themselves. To keep myself rooted in practice, I am also part of a leadership team of a newly formed faith-based community in Portland, Oregon.

Rozella Haydée White (she/her/ella)


Rozella Haydée White (she/her/ella) is the #LoveBigCoach, one who coaches people to live passionately, lead authentically and love boldly, intentionally and generously. She specializes in coaching individuals, groups, teams and organizations who are in the midst of change, transition, and conflict. Rozella is a faith based entrepreneur who believes that nonprofit entities have the potential to create immense transformation. She is the owner of RHW Consulting LLC, an agency focused on accompanying clients as they align their being, beliefs and behaviors in order to deconstruct and dismantle systems, structures, and social constructs that inhibit justice and liberation. Rozella is the creator and co-founder of Racial Healing & Wellness Coaching LLC, a collaborative for women committed to the journey of racial healing and wellness. Through coaching, cohort-based learning and content creation, Racial Healing & Wellness Coaching invites women to live boldly, love fully and lead with justice for the sake of individual and communal liberation. Rozella is a public theologian, spiritual life and leadership coach, inspirational speaker and writer focused on nurturing love that is life-giving, justice-seeking, and sustaining so that all can thrive.

Julia Nielsen (she/her)


I’m a community organizer, facilitator, ordained United Methodist deacon, and coach based in Portland, Oregon, and formed spiritually by the rivers & woods of Ohio. I have 5 years of experience in coaching. My overarching ethos is that all people are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole, and our work is to follow the Spirit’s wild and wonderful ways of forming people to serve our world.

Erik Samuelson (he/him)


My passion is to accompany leaders on journeys of transformation as they come alive to their deep callings and act powerfully with others to change the world. I accomplish this by walking alongside leaders, teams, and communities to help them discern and move toward their preferred future—in life, in work, in leadership. As your coach, I will work with you to see the wisdom you already possess, grow in the way you are feeling called, and apply your insights in ways that will change your life and leadership. Erik Samuelson, PCC, is a leadership and transformation coach who works with individuals, teams, companies, churches, non-profits, and educational institutions. He is the founder of “Come Alive Coaching” which offers coaching, workshops, practices, and resources to individuals and communities looking to deepen their impact, renew their organization, and develop leaders. Erik also trains and leads workshops in community organizing, vocational discernment, organizational renewal, leadership development, and spiritual practices. A former college professor and campus pastor, Erik delights in helping people of all ages discover their calling and live into their vocational potential. He is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and has led, consulted, or coached of a number of new ministry starts, networks, and congregational renewal and transition efforts. In June 2022, Erik will be certified as a Church Planting Coach through Fuller Seminary. He holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential from the International Coaching Federation. Erik also does coaching through Vibrant Faith. More information can be found at:

Mary Tabata (she/her)


Mary Tabata has many decades of service as a lay leader in the ELCA. She served as a Synod Council Member, Synod Vice President, member of the ELCA Church Council, and various Synod and Churchwide committees and task forces. She is currently a professor of leadership and is a researcher in leader development, team effectiveness, and leadership “wisdom”. Mary serves as the Chair of the Philosophy, Religion, and Worldviews member community of the International Leadership Association. She holds a coaching certification in solutions-focused coaching and is a candidate for the ACC Credential from the International Coaching Federation.

Spiritual Directors

Our Spiritual Directors are attuned to asking questions about where you are seeing God and the Holy Spirit move, activate and/or disconnected in your life.

Lynne Prechel (she/her)

Spiritual Director

Lynne Prechel has been a Deacon in the ELCA since 2007. She’s currently not serving in a call, but when needed, provides pulpit supply to ELCA churches in Pacifica Synod. Lynne holds certificates as a spiritual director, and as a supervisor for spiritual directors, and has been companioning others for 20 years. For the past 30 years, Lynne has been teaching spiritual formation practices in Southern California, where she leads weekend and day retreats, workshops, and is a guest speaker for women’s groups. Lynne has had a traveling labyrinth and prayer station ministry since 2000, helping church communities to walk the winding path to God. A practitioner of center prayer (Fr.Thomas Keating) since 1993, she has taught meditation and led Christian meditation groups for over 22 years. In her practice as a spiritual director, Lynne has particular experience in mindfulness, meditation, addiction, grief and loss, dreamwork, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, depression, and the Enneagram. She has worked with people from a variety of denominations: Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Judiasm, Disciples of Christ, and Catholic, as well as interspiritual persons. Lynne has companioned ELCA pastors, deacons, interns, and those discerning a call to ministry. Her daily walk with God includes seeking the Divine in all of creation, practicing contemplation, mindfulness and unselfish love, and learning about humility. She also enjoys working with soil and plants, long walks in nature, and reading.

Laree Winer (she/her)

Spiritual Director

Laree Winer earned her Bachelor’s degree in religion at Pacific Lutheran University where she currently serves as the Associate Director for the Wild Hope Center for Vocation. Laree manages the day-to-day operations of the Center, plans and facilitates faculty and staff development workshops, advises still deciding students, and co-facilitates the Wild Hope Fellows program. She has been involved in the work of vocational exploration and discernment for over 10 years. In 2021 Laree completed a two year graduate certificate in spiritual direction at the St. Placid Priory in Olympia, WA and has accompanied PLU students, faculty members, staff, and members of her church – Christ Lutheran – as they listen for the Spirit and seek to heal, renew, or deepen their relationship with God. As a Spiritual Director, Laree utilizes deep listening, reflective questions, and employs a variety of sacred tools with those she accompanies, including centering prayer, Visio and Lectio Divina, and the Enneagram. She has a particular appreciation for the nuance, complexity, and in-between spaces of the spiritual journey and her approach is holistic and client centered. Weekends you will find her cooking and entertaining with the Mister, walking Penny Puggle along the neighborhood wooded trails, or reading books to her grandchildren: Aiden, Silas, Claire, and Jack.

Natalie Larkin (she/her)

Spiritual Director

Natalie graduated from Wittenberg, CLU and completed the Stillpoint program in 2003 and has found joy being a spiritual director ever since. She has been on staff of Stillpoint as a mentor/facilitator for 16 years, and is currently completing seminary at PLTS to become a Deacon in the ELCA, with a calling in spiritual formation. Recently retired from teaching special education/at-risk high school students, she enjoys space for reading, writing, and being creative. She has been involved in sacred dance/movement and finds bodywork to be important. She is active in retreat and small group ministries, and loves going on pilgrimages such as Israel and Germany. Natalie is deeply connected with nature and finds it to be a part of her spiritual journey, especially the ocean where she lived for many years. Currently she is living near mountains and gets to commune with deer and other creatures daily.