Kirsten Olson

Kirsten Olson is Chief Listening Officer at Old Sow Coaching and Consulting After years of meandering in the fields of Research 1 universities, Kirsten transitioned to doing what she really loves: working with leaders to transform their organizations and themselves for more powerful vision, purpose and performance.

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Kirsten works with leaders in the midst of culture change, sector-shift, and the new demands of leadership: leadership-as-learning as an ICF-certified leadership coach, retreat leader, and cultural consultant. Kirsten has over 20 years of experience leading transformational shift and culture change in organizations; supporting emerging and transitioning leaders; and enhancing effectiveness in global NGOs, educational institutions, social justice and not-for-profit organizations. The author of several books on learning and the effects of schooling, Kirsten was a founding board member of the Institute of Democratic Education in America, which links progressive educators for new visions of democratic learning. Her recent clients include Oxfam America, Federal Housing and Finance Administration, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Union of Concerned Scientists, Kennedy School at Harvard University, Harvard Graduate School of Education, the New York City Department of Education, and NationBuilder. A mentor coach and faculty member at Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership, where she was also certified as a leadership coach, Kirsten holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an undergraduate degree in English literature from Vassar College. At Harvard, her research focused on equity, social justice, and opportunities to learn. Kirsten is a member of the ICF, and also trained as a national facilitator at the Center for Courage and Renewal working directly with Parker Palmer. She is a certified mindfulness-based professional educator, and has completed 200 hours of Ashtanga yoga teacher training. A daily yoga practitioner, Kirsten offers frequent trainings and professional development on deep listening practices, narrative shifting and transitioning, and creating trust and authenticity in organizations and teams. She currently participates in an international group of coach educators investigating power and privilege in coaching. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her partner, and is the mother of four young-adult children who are her dear friends and learning partners. She works on showing up as more real, compassionate and authentic every day.