“The better our families are, the better our people are.”

Maryella Gockel, Ernst & Young Americas Flexibility Leader

Meet the Parental Leave Leadership Team

CPLL is made up of an international team of committed professionals who were challenged and impressed by the leadership transition required when we became parents. We did not fully anticipate that parenthood would bring a new opportunity to hone our team management skills, and we began to understand that properly shaped, the experience of becoming a parent could be enhanced to develop new leadership skills. We began to understand the importance of efficiency in a different way, balancing multiple priorities, making trade-off decisions, and developing new self-discipline. We also recognized that the typical feeling of being lost and even lonely navigating new terrain, could be helped and supported through networking with trained professionals.

Our team loves working and loves parenting. The two roles are woven into our days and lives and make up our world’s. We have chosen this work because we are dedicated to redefining the way our countries and our companies consider and support the parental leave transition. We know you are too.

Partner Organizations

We firmly believe that many hands make light work.

Beyond CPLL’s core team is an international network of collaborative partner organizations made up of academics, advocates, policy mavens, and change leaders. They help us dig deep to accomplish CPLL’s consulting and coaching goals, while together we are always working toward our larger shared goal of nationwide parental leave progress.

Who We Are

United States Team

Amy Beacom, Ed.D.

Founder and CEO

BEN_5750 (1)Dr. Amy Beacom has worked in the field of executive leadership development and coaching, with a particular focus on issues of relevance to women leaders, since 1996. She was a founding principal in a successful executive development firm later acquired by Mercer, before returning to graduate school. During her doctoral studies, Amy helped develop and teach what became the first core curriculum for executive coaching at Columbia University. After the birth of her first child, Amy envisioned a new field of executive coaching and consulting that focused on the unique challenges and opportunities faced by working parents – and their work organizations – specific to the parental leave timeframe. CPLL and the RETAINTM Parental Leave Coaching model and program is the result of that vision. Amy holds a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology and Gender Studies from Lewis and Clark College, an M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and a doctorate, also from Columbia University, in which she was able to combine her work in Organizational Psychology, Women’s Leadership, Work/Family, and Applied Anthropology. Amy lives in Brooklyn, New York and Portland, Oregon with her husband and their 7 year-old son and 4‐year old daughter.

Scott Behson, Ph.D.

Consultant and Coach

i-l3s67vmScott is a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a national expert in work and family issues, and was a featured speaker at the White House Summit on Working Families and at the United Nations. He’s the author of the book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home, the first book of its kind to provide advice and encouragement for working fathers, helping them to achieve success in their careers while also being the involved, loving dads they always wanted to be. Scott founded and runs the popular blog, Fathers, Work, and Family, dedicated to helping working fathers and encouraging more supportive workplaces. He writes regularly for the Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post and the Good Men Project, and has also been published in TIME, Fast Company, Success and The Wall Street Journal. He frequently appears in media, including MSNBC, NPR and Fox News. Scott is an accomplished consultant and professional speaker, working with Fortune 500 companies and at major events. Scott lives in Nyack, NY with his wife, stage actress Amy Griffin and their son, Nick.

Karen Abrams Gerber, Ed.D

Consultant and Coach

Dr. Karen Abrams Gerber has worked as an organizational consultant, coach and researcher for more than fifteen years. Karen works with a broad range of companies and not-for-profit organizations, consulting extensively in both North America and Israel. Karen is passionate about facilitating effective dialogue and transformative change at the individual, inter-personal, organizational, and societal levels. Karen has been a key thinking partner in the development of the RETAINTM Parental Leave Coaching model, drawing on her in-depth background in organizational dynamics and theory, leadership development, conflict resolution, counseling, and relationship-building. Karen’s research background and interests focus on transformative change, and, in particular, how to engage people who do not share one’s underlying values in order to create sustainable change. Karen holds a B.A. from Stanford University as well as an M.A. in Organizational Psychology and an Ed.D. in Adult Learning and Leadership from Columbia University. She lives in New York City with her husband and their 8 year-old daughter.

Brenda Johnson, Ph.D.

Consultant and Coach

Dr. Brenda Johnson has worked as an organizational psychology professor, diversity management specialist, group and organizational consultant, program evaluator, and journey-level carpenter. Brenda has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in multicultural psychology, diversity management, conflict resolution, cultural competence, organizational development, research methods, organizational psychology, and group dynamics. Because of her practical experience and academic training, Brenda is skilled at working with leaders and managers to craft comprehensive solutions to challenges in the workplace and guide them in the implementation with buy-in at all levels. Brenda holds a Bachelors in Conflict Resolution Studies from the University of Winnipeg and a Masters and a doctorate in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Brenda lives in Seattle, WA with her wife and their 7 year-old son.

Christopher Persley, M.A.

Consultant and Coach

SONY DSCChristopher is also a writer, consultant and coach, and intrepid fatherhood advocate. For nearly two decades, Christopher has worked within the independent school system as an educator and school administrator. He spent the last eight years as Director of Diversity, helping create safe, inclusive environments for diverse communities. In that role Christopher honed his facilitation and assessment skills by crafting and leading workshops, panel discussions, events and symposia – all while utilizing an array of research and assessment tools to ensure his efforts had a measurable impact. Christopher is Co-Organizer of NYC Dads Group, a diverse community of more than 1,300 fathers in and around New York City that provides dads an organized way to socialize and support each other throughout their parenting journey. Christopher is responsible for representing the group in the media, facilitating events, and fostering partnerships with companies and organizations such as Stouffer’s, Dove Men+Care, Withings, and the New York Liberty. A recognized and sought after author, Christopher writes the blog, The Brown Gothamite, and has contributed to The Stir at Cafe Mom, CityDadsGroup.comWhatToExpect.comTheGoodMenProject.com, and the book, Dads Behaving Dadly 2. He has appeared on Good Morning America, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Mic.com‘s Flip The Script, The Root Live, and CBS News. Christopher has been profiled in Real Simple Magazine and been a Spotlight Blogger at the 2015 Dad 2.0 Summit. Christopher earned a masters degree in Private School Leadership through the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. He lives in New York City with his wife and four year old daughter.

Jayne Cronlund, J.D.

Consultant & Coach

Jayne Cronlund’s work is informed by over 18 years of experience successfully leading diverse groups through growth and change. Jayne has a unique capacity for ensuring that individual values and perspectives are honored and incorporated into day-to-day work in ways that enhance business performance and increase employee engagement, loyalty, and morale. Jayne is recognized both in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors for her expertise in building collaborative leadership solutions to tough situations. She has a fundamental belief that personal reflection in the service of leadership development can help us all create healthier companies, employees, and ultimately, a healthier planet. Jayne is the founder of flourish, a boutique consulting firm focused on supporting business leaders to create more powerful organizations by successfully integrating their personal and work lives. In her work, Jayne combines her RETAINTM training, on the ground leadership experience, and The Power of Ted cognitive coaching framework, with the insight and calm gained through her personal meditation practice, to guide her clients through complex transitions with clarity and development. Jayne holds a B.A. in Art History from Temple University, a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, as well as various advanced coaching certification and trainings. Jayne lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their 8 year-old daughter.

Kisha Edwards-Gandsy

Consultant & Coach

121028_LittleSproutsKisha Edwards-Gandsy is a working parent advocate and successful entrepreneur whose work has focused on creating products and services to ease the work/life struggle. She is the Co-Founder of NY City Explorers Group, a ten year old suite of highly successful family-focused childcare companies and co-working solutions including the NY City Explorers Pre-K Academy – a private preschool located in the historic Brooklyn Friends Meeting House; Backpacks & Binoculars – a discovery and travel-based school-aged camp and afterschool program; and Bag-of-Tricks Babysitting – an in-home and special event sitting agency. Kisha is also an accomplished consultant and coach whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Crains New York, Oregon Business Magazine, Red Tricycle, Brooklyn Family Magazine, Mommy Poppins, and Time Out NY, among others. Kisha is a member of The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, The National Association for the Education of Young Children, and The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Originally from rural Pelzer, SC, Kisha moved to NYC to study Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and, as a published children’s book author, ensures her work with adults is infused with creativity and intention. Kisha lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and three children.

Jenn Rineer, Ph.D

Director of Research

profile picDr. Jennifer Rineer is an organizational psychology researcher who is passionate about applying her rigorous research design and methodology training to occupational health and social justice issues. As the Director of Research for CPLL, Jennifer helps organizations to understand their workforce data as it relates to parental leave, a critical initial step in effectively managing employees and improving workplace practices. As part of her work at CPLL Jennifer is instrumental in creating customized research that gives clients the insight they are looking for – from design, to data cleaning and analysis, to writing research summaries and comprehensive reports. Jennifer is also the Career Pathways Research Fellow for Catalyst where her work focuses on the career pathways of high-potential women. In that role Jennifer uses data to develop tools for member companies to help them assess and improve their organizational practices regarding gender diversity. Jennifer obtained her doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, with a minor in Occupational Health Psychology, at Portland State University (where she obtained her MS in the same field). Prior to her graduate work, she earned her BS in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Jennifer has co-authored a number of articles including, “A Lifespan Perspective on Job Design: Fitting the Worker to the Job to Promote Job Satisfaction,” published in Organizational Psychology Review, and “The Aging Workforce: Implications for Human Resource Management,” an Oxford Research Review). She has presented her work at multiple Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) annual conferences. Jennifer lives in Portland, OR with her husband. 

Allison Ellis, Ph.D

Research Lead

Madeleine Arvold, MA, PHR


Maddy's headshotMadeleine is an industrial and organizational psychology practitioner whose graduate work focused on educating managers about the critical importance of supporting employees through parental leave and their return to work. With a background in HR and Technology, she’s committed to tackling the challenges and advocating for the benefits of building a diverse workforce. She brings her considerable skills to the Center for Parental Leave Leadership in the areas of collective partnerships, coaching, training, client engagement and customer experience. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and their two children.

Sue Campbell

Communications Strategy & Content Writer

Sue Campbell BandWhite photoSue Campbell is a writer and communications specialist focused on supporting the missions of triple bottom line organizations. Sue’s excellent communication skills combined with her attention to detail make her a unique asset in telling the story and mission of the Center for Parental Leave Leadership. In addition to her recently finished first novel, her work has appeared in regional and national publications including Prevention, Metro Parent and Stealing Time, a literary magazine for parents. Online, her work has been featured on sites such as Copyblogger, Mamalode and Tiny Buddha. Her professional background includes twelve years in public service, seven of those as a business systems analyst leading projects and teams to deliver process improvements through technology. Sue lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, 8 year-old daughter and infant daughter.

Alejandra Garfias

Research Intern

IMG_2762 (1)Alejandra‘s internship experience was sparked by her interest in the field of applied psychology, specifically industrial/organizational psychology. She is keenly interested in learning how to improve organizational work policies and practices to support employees and companies. She has a particular interest on reducing work place harassment. Alejandra is pursuing her BS in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration at Portland State University. She plans to continue her education by studying Human Resources in graduate school. Alejandra is motivated by the joy she has in helping others and that motivation has fueled her personal mission to use human connections as a means to shared personal growth and development. Alejandra is involved in various department organizations on campus and volunteers her time in the Psychology Department as a peer advisor. She also serves as a research assistant for the Human Developmental program on campus and works closely with the academic advisor for the School of Business to ensure a meaningful experience to all students needing help and support.Alejandra lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with her family.

Australia Team

Sarah Cotton, Ph.D.


Dr. Sarah Cotton is a registered and endorsed Organizational Psychologist who specializes in best-practice strategies to help individuals and organizations navigate the challenges of modern work. More specifically, in light of the demographic shifts and committed to supporting life-cycle transitions, Sarah co-founded Transitioning WellTM in 2011. Drawing upon over 15 years of consulting, facilitation and coaching, Sarah brings both a practical and personal approach. Throughout her consulting background Sarah has worked across both Government and Industry including: Banking, Financial and Legal Services; Retail; Automotive; Healthcare; and Not-for-Profit. As part of her coaching portfolio, Sarah has a focus in the area of Parental Leave Coaching. Providing the space to get out of ‘automatic pilot’, Sarah’s facilitation provides the opportunity to unpack both the practical and emotional aspects of the Parental Leave Transition and beyond. Sarah’s professional background includes a psychology degree with a PhD in the area of work-stress. Further trained in the areas of political psychology and Participatory Action Research (PAR), Sarah’s point of reference is to work collaboratively to meet unique organizational challenges. Committed to harnessing the pipeline of female talent, Sarah has also been involved in the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Board Women program.   Finally, having both published and presented widely, Sarah’s research experience also strengthens her consulting profile. Sarah lives in Melbourne with her husband and their 7‐year old son and 3‐year old daughter.

Justine Alter, M.A.


Justine Alter website pic 1

Justine is a registered psychologist with a Masters in Organizational Psychology. She has over ten years experience in short term individual counselling, coaching, work place conflict resolution and training. Justine’s experience includes working as a return to work and career transition specialist primarily for WorkCover clients, and more recently as an EAP consultant and one on one coach for individuals and organisations including Southern Health, Victoria Police, Shire of Yarra Ranges, Nissan Motor Company and various Government departments. Justine uses primarily a structured, solution focused approach which is outcome based. She is results orientated and builds rapport easily at all levels of organizations, utilizing her sound relationship building and listening skills.  Having three children and transitioning back to work after each child, she is passionate about the need for workplace support for people transitioning into parenthood and the need to provide support for parents at this time. Her experiences through her own transitions led her to co-found Transitioning Well TM in 2011.Justine lives in Melbourne with her husband and their three children, ages 9, 7, and 4.

Orla NicDomhnaill, Ph.D.

Consultant & Coach

Dr. Órla NicDomhnaill has over 15 years of consulting experience working with leading organizations and their boards, building board and organizational effectiveness, leadership strength, and senior team alignment. Órla is the Managing Director of the Institute for Leadership Potential and was formerly the Head of the Assessment and Succession Practice at Stephenson Mansell Group. Prior to that she was a Principal Consultant at Heidrick & Struggles in their Leadership Consulting Practice. Her previous clients include Bausch & Lomb, BHP Billiton, BlackRock, Johnson & Johnson, Marsh & McLennan, Mercedes Benz (China), PepsiCo, Rohm and Haas, HP and United Airlines. Órla gained extensive experience working with top management as a Principal Consultant at Oliver Wyman Delta (New York), where she worked with CEOs, boards of directors, and senior executives of major corporations on CEO succession, executive talent management, and large-scale organizational change. Órla was a faculty member at Columbia University where she taught Research Methods courses in the Social-Organizational Psychology Masters program, and worked as a Process Consultant in Change Management and Conflict Resolution practicums. Originally from Ireland, Órla graduated with first-class honours in Psychology from University College Dublin and has a Masters of Art, Masters of Philosophy and PhD in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University in New York City. Her dissertation, “Gendered Behavior at Work: How Sex, Gender and Approach to Work Impact Behaviors and Outcomes” was published in 2008. She lives in Sydney with her husband and infant boy.

Jillian Bull, Psy.D.

Consultant & Coach

Jillian Bull (1) Jill is a registered psychologist in Australia with areas of practice endorsement in both clinical and counseling psychology. Jill has worked in the field of individual and group counseling, training, mentoring and community development for 25 years. Jill works with a broad range of individuals, companies, universities and not-for-profit organizations in the areas of workplace mental health, recovery after natural disasters and mentoring new graduates and those making career transitions. Jill is passionate about supporting women in the workforce, helping people develop personal and coping skills to successfully face the challenges life throws at them, and working positively with people to embrace the good life in their everyday living at both work and home.Jill has been a consultant with Transitioning Well Australia since 2011. She is committed to supporting others through their significant life transitions and to successfully meet the challenges associated with integrating work and life. Jill holds a PsyD in Clinical Psychology from the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, CA. Jill lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband of 10 years, and her two step-children, 14 and 16 years-old.

Sabina Read, M.A.

Consultant & Coach

Sabina is a registered psychologist with over ten years experience in counselling, coaching, facilitating, and consulting with individuals, families, groups and organizations including HSBC, ANZ, Credit Suisse, Star Track Express, Oxfam, Berry St, and a range of private and public schools. Sabina’s experience includes one-on-one coaching, individual and family counselling, facilitation of workshops and groups, and speaking engagements to small and large groups as a speaker with Saxton’s Speakers Bureau. Sabina employs a practical, personalized, supportive, and results-oriented approach with individuals and groups across the lifespan, and at every level of an organization, with warmth, dedication, and professionalism. Prior to working as a psychologist, Sabina enjoyed consulting and in-house roles in public relations and marketing in Melbourne, San Francisco and London. In these positions, she worked with a range of organizations and clients in a variety of industries including retail, consumer, telecommunications, health, hospitality, education, the arts, gaming, law, and accounting. Her extensive experience provides invaluable first-hand knowledge of the corporate and organizational challenges faced by many of her clients. Additionally, Sabina is a trained phone counselor, and a regular contributor in the media. She is the Resident Psychologist on The Afternoon Program on Radio 3AW, a frequent expert on national radio and television stations, and is listed on the Media Referral Database for the Australian Psychological Society. Sabina is married with two daughters, aged 13 and 11; and two dogs, aged 1 and 4!

Tamar Balkin, M.A.

Consultant & Coach

Tamar Balkin is a registered psychologist and leadership coach with a Masters in Organizational Psychology and over 18 years diverse coaching and consulting experience.  As a working mother with three children, Tamar Balkin is all too familiar with the myriad of thoughts that run through her client’s minds as they prepare to return to work after maternity leave. Taking an evidenced based psychological approach, Tamar builds strong client relationships that enable her clients to leverage their strengths, and maintain the focus and motivation required to take advantage of great opportunities or to manage and resolve difficult challenges. She inspires her clients to think differently, break out of traditional mindsets, and be innovative. Tamar’s focuses on strengths, and in partnership with her clients will set both short and long term career goals that are aligned with her client’s skills needs, interest and values, enabling them to achieve extraordinary results for themselves and their organizations. Through her varied roles within organizations including Mercer, Randstad, Futurestep and PreVisor she has developed wide-ranging skills and experience in corporate coaching across all levels of senior management. Major clients include some of Australia’s largest financial institutions, FMCG sector, as well as Energy Australia (now Essential Energy), Biogen Pharmaceuticals, Ramsey Healthcare, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Electrolux. She also works pro bono in the not-for-profit sector.

Vashti Wallance, M.A.

Consultant & Coach

Vashti is an experienced coach, organizational psychologist and organizational development (OD) practitioner with 20 years of experience including a senior management role in a fast growing national IT professional services firm, and other senior OD and People & Performance roles.  She has internally and externally consulted to private and public organizations in a range of industries. Her expertise includes advising and partnering with management to drive performance through effective leadership, employee engagement, resilience and wellbeing, and aligning people, strategy and practices with organizational objectives.  She is currently completing her doctorate assessing the impact of reward and recognition on employee engagement and organizational performance. Vashti discovered wellbeing and resilience when dealing with a few life traumas including having a premature baby with serious medical issues.  She joined and later owned a business called Work + Life Wellbeing delivering workshops, coaching, consulting services and evidence based interventions that enable people, leaders, teams and organizations to be their best.