Our Team

Elena Aguilar

Founder & President

Elena has trained thousands of educators across the United States and abroad in transformational coaching. She is the author of six highly acclaimed books: The Art of Coaching, (2013) and The Art of Coaching Teams, (2016) Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators (2018) and the Onward Workbook (2018), Coaching for Equity (2020) and The Art of Coaching Workbook (2020). She is a regular contributor to Edutopia and ASCD’s Educational Leadership, and she was a blogger for EdWeek Teacher for many years. 

Elena’s expertise derives from twenty five years as a classroom teacher, instructional coach and leadership coach working in diverse school environments. In her role as a consultant, she has partnered with leaders in public and private organizations across the United States and abroad. Elena is also the co-founder of Kenya Big Picture Learning, and she’s on the advisory board of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Elena holds a BA in history and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She received her teaching credential from California State University, Hayward, and she also holds an administrative services credential. Elena lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, son, and two cats. When she’s not coaching or writing she enjoys traveling abroad, photographing birds, hiking, drinking coffee and reading fiction.


Stacey Goodman

Vice President

Stacey brings an invaluable blend of years of working in schools and in the private sector to our team. Having worked in internet companies in Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s, he has a keen understanding of how small businesses thrive. Following his adventures with start ups, Stacey taught in independent schools in the San Francisco Bay Area for 18 years which gave him a deep appreciation for the learning needs of educators in private schools.

Stacey is also a professional artist and brings an eye for aesthetics and design to Bright Morning. Stacey has a BA in Architecture from Princeton and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. He and Elena are happily married.


LesLee Bickford

Chief Operating Officer

LesLee honed her design, strategy and consulting skills working in education and nonprofits. She began her career teaching and coaching in Philadelphia public schools before relocating to the Midwest and moving from working within the public school system to partnering with educators and the staff members who support them. Since 2003 she has led teams and imagined, designed and executed learning experiences for individuals and groups in both school and non-profit settings.

LesLee holds a BA in Political Science from Western Washington University and an MS in Elementary Education from Saint Joseph’s University. She was trained by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey as a facilitator of the Immunity to Change coaching method, has completed Cognitive Coaching training, is a certified professional coach through Coaching Out of the Box, and was trained and certified in the Art of Coaching. LesLee’s home base is Minneapolis where you’ll find her constantly on the move with her husband and two sons.


Lori Cohen

Senior Associate

Lori Cohen has worked in both public and independent schools since 1999, serving as classroom teacher, instructional coach, administrator and workshop facilitator. She holds a BA in English, a California Teaching Credential in English, and an MA in Education—all from the University of California at Davis.

Lori actively works towards equity and social justice in education, aspiring to offer access and pathways for all school stakeholders to thrive. She loves designing practical and portable learning experiences, and she facilitates her sessions with a healthy infusion of humor and heart. A Bay Area native, Lori spends her time enjoying the Pacific Ocean or amidst the mighty redwood trees, ideally with a warm cup of coffee in hand. Lori currently lives in Portland, OR.


Carol Owala

Senior Associate, based in Nairobi, Kenya

Carol has been a teacher, school leader, instructional and leadership coach, a manager of coaches, and she now leads Kenya Big Picture Learning, a Big Picture Learning project.

Carol has extensive experience working with students, teachers and school leaders in marginalized communities. She has presented at our Art of Coaching Conferences and with Elena, she co-directs our immersive learning exchange, Ustahimilivu Dadas. Carol is available to present our workshops anywhere in Africa as well as to consult with schools and organizational leaders about building a coaching program. Carol lives in Nairobi with her husband and three sons. She is a voracious reader and believes in the potential of every child. 


Rebecca Blackmer

Director of experiences and impact

Rebecca has worked in education since 2013, most recently overseeing daily operations of the academic program of a progressive independent high school. She holds a BA in Art History and Italian Studies from Wheaton College (Massachusetts) and an MA in Italian Literature from Middlebury College. She is passionate about work that allows her to blend her love of systems-thinking with human-centered endeavors and solutions.

Rebecca lives in Oakland, California and when she’s not working, you’ll find her frequenting favorite independent bookstores, exploring both neighborhood hiking trails and restaurants, or escaping from city life to spend time on her family’s fifth-generation farm.


Helen Park Truong

Associate presenter

Director of Operations

Helen has been working in the education and nonprofit sphere since 2008. She began her career as a high school English teacher at a large public high school in Los Angeles. Since then, she has been a founding team member of a charter school in Chicago, coached novice teachers, designed large scale learning experiences, and mostly recently, managed her team’s communications and operations strategy. She holds a BA from Wellesley College, where she majored in English and Economics. 

Helen is passionate about bringing an equity-centered lens to her work in client engagement, operations and facilitating at Bright Morning. She deeply believes that the pathway to educational equity and social justice can be ignited with a powerful conversation. When she is not working, you will find her reading, perfecting her chocolate chip cookie recipe, and spending time with her family at her home base in Atlanta, GA.


Debbie Daly

Client Experience Specialist

Debbie developed her business management expertise as an executive at her local YMCA, supporting a manufacturing company, and running her own small business. She has also put her dance skills and love of people to work teaching adult fitness classes and aquatic programs for youth and adults. The skills she developed over the years have given her the ability to organize, implement programs and have fun with those around her while doing so!

Debbie and her faithful Shi Tzu, Jack Bauer, live in Walla Walla, Washington. She is the proud mother of two strong women, and spends as much time as she can with her 4 grandchildren.


Jocelyn Fabello

Office Manager

Jocelyn has worked with independent filmmakers, small business owners and educational consultants for 20 years. Her work with artists and educators informs her current work as financial and human resources manager to small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, and deepens her dedication to storytelling and conversation as pathways to awareness, community, equity and social justice.

Jocelyn brings a creative and thoughtful approach to supporting creative people and thoughtful businesses, and loves being immersed in the details that make the big picture possible.


In Residence

In addition to lending us their talents, our “in residence” team members also have professional lives outside of Bright Morning.

Janet Baird

Janet has been in education since 1995, teaching, coaching, and designing and facilitating professional development. She holds a BA from Loyola Marymount University in English and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction, Secondary Education from San Francisco State University. She is a certified coach in the Art of Coaching. In addition, she has been a certified yoga instructor for the past 15 years.

Her work in Transformational Coaching, yoga, and education feed her passion for helping people cultivate resilience to lead happier lives. Janet’s work focuses on developing the content for the Onward website and facilitating the Onward workshops. Janet lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. You will often find her with Starbucks chai tea in hand cheering on her boys at the baseball field or the basketball gym.


Nick Cains

Nick is a human catalyst who is passionate about empowering teachers and supporting them to lead the charge for educational equity. A former 2nd grade teacher, he now coaches teacher leaders and supports Tulsa Public Schools as an Instructional Leadership Coach.

He earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theater and a minor in Broadcast Journalism from Southern Methodist University. Nick lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the fluffiest cat named Harvey. He is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education Administration: Curriculum & Supervision from the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.