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Kris Risley
Kris Risley

Location: Chicago, IL

How will clients benefit with you as their coach?
Clients who work with me may achieve any of the following.
  • Identify authentic, individualized, values based personal/professional goals to support their leadership development and the impact they want to make in public health, healthcare, or social services.
  • Assess current and ideal level of satisfaction with their personal and professional lives.
  • Improve level of satisfaction in a minimum two life areas (professional and or personal).
  • Identify leadership strengths and practice leading from strengths.
  • Improve emotionally intelligent leadership competencies related to the awareness and management of their emotions in relation to others.
  • Identify personal and professional values through a values clarification process and learn to use the values as a road map for leadership development.
  • Create a life purpose statement and/or mission statement.
  • Explore a leadership philosophy that expresses their unique approach to leadership.
  • Create a 6-12 month post-coaching plan to continue to bring life to the coaching experience.
  • Identify themselves as a public health leader regardless of their role and/or position.
  • Take on a new public health (or other) role or position (if desired) or feel engaged and satisfied with current work.
What results have clients reported after working with you?
  • Program Director became Bureau Chief within three weeks of initial coaching session.
  • Professor/Principal Investigator established regional leadership network within months of coaching.
  • MD/Clinical Professor set personal boundaries to support the development of both her teaching/research/clinical responsibilities AND her faith.
  • MCH Epidemiologist secured new dream position.
What do clients say about working with you?
  • 'Kris' approach to personal leadership was different. She diffused my initial incredulity by showing much understanding and almost palpable care.'
  • 'The work Dr. Risley and I did together in the Summer of 2012 was integral in helping me move my professional career forward.'
  • 'You helped me get my groove back… My renewed confidence in my ability to affect change is a direct reflection of our regular sessions.'
  • 'Kris is the most influential mentor I have had throughout my academic and professional career.'
  • 'As a result of her coaching I took the bold step of applying for a job that was better aligned with my passion…even though it was a big risk.'
  • 'Kris' ability to disentangle the various challenges that we all face and provide simple solutions in order to find the most fulfilling path is truly remarkable.'
  • 'My interactions with others are now much more thoughtful and I am beginning to see the benefits of emphasizing my strengths (as opposed to dwelling on my short-comings).'
  • 'Kris helped me refocus and place the "why" front and center.'
  • 'I benefited greatly from my coaching with Kris on a personal as well as professional level.'
  • 'During our sessions, she provided me with very useful feedback and recommended several strategies to help me improve my personal communication skills.'
  • 'You are the most patient, non-judgmental person I have ever met. I appreciate you truly listening and helping me walk through my challenges. I feel so much better about my situation already.'
  • 'I have been thinking about our conversation every day. It has truly had an impact on me. One thing in particular that I noticed was when I got to work after our conversation I began to clean my office. And as I was cleaning I realized that I was making space for the good things to come my way. I reflected on what you said about when you move things out of the way it gives room for things that you desire to find you. "
  • 'Kris is the Mary Poppins of career coaching - always encouraging and supportive, never phased, and carrying a full toolbag of ideas, activities, and resources. Students and recent grads can get easily overwhelmed by the voices of professors, bosses, family and the media (at least I did!); Kris is an expert at helping people tune in to what really matters to them and take concrete steps towards living a life consistent with their values.'
  • She has a unique ability to really hear what is most important and also see what might be blocking the way. With a deft touch, she can help unpack it all and then work with you to co-create a path forward. I've worked with Kris a number of times and have always left our time together with more clarity, connection and immediate steps to help move me forward."
What is your coaching philosophy?
I believe that each client I work with is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. No one is broken or needs to be fixed. I believe we all have unique gifts that we were born with and this life is our opportunity to share our gifts and make the world a better place. I believe we all want to be seen for who we are without judgment. As a result, my primary coaching approach involves conducting a baseline assessment to help individuals articulate where they are (current state) and where they want to be in their lives (future state). We look at level of satisfaction across ones’ whole life personally and professionally. We explore what brings people fulfillment. This process involves articulating a unique set of professional/personal values to guide decision-making. We also explore one’s purpose in life and vision for public health. We explore individual strengths and how to build on what comes naturally as well as develop a plan to address the gaps (through training and/or surrounding self with others whose natural strengths are our gaps). We explore what holds a person back, negative self-talk that is not helpful, and together we identify ways to address these challenges and move forward with conviction. We look at stuck places in a person’s life and find a wide range of perspectives about these stuck places so people can identify new ways to move forward. And we practice mindfulness, or awareness, of the ups and downs in one’s life. My goal is to create a space of non-judgment and self-compassion so that clients can trust who they are and move forward with grace and confidence.

I believe that no two people are alike so my coaching is designed to uniquely match clients right where they are in their lives. In that regard coaching is forward moving. I believe in living a life full of hope, life, passion and compassion. I believe in supporting, nurturing, and loving people. I believe in total honesty and transparency. I honestly believe the truth sets us free. These beliefs fuel my coaching philosophy and create a space for clients to thrive.
What types of people do you typically coach?

I provide executive and leadership coaching for public health, healthcare, and social service professionals. These individuals include graduate students, emerging leaders, mid-level managers, senior leaders, and those transitioning into "retirement" or the next phase of their lives. I enjoy working with people who are driven and who are committed to living life on purpose and who care about making a difference in their communities and the world.

What are 5 strengths you have as a coach?
  • I'm empathetic and non-judgmental which creates a safe space for optimal success.
  • I know how to help people find their own unique path and can provide confident support in helping people get unstuck.
  • I help clients get a deep understanding of who they are at their core and invite them to express themselves wholly in their lives.
  • I help clients discover how they can best contribute to the world.
  • I help clients come alive and get into action about creating a life that lights them up.
  • I am a lifelong learner who is always engaging in efforts to grow myself; this commitment supports client growth.
  • I give honest, helpful feedback in a way that can be easily received and processed.
What is your professional background?

I have a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master's degree in developmental psychology, and a DrPH in public health/maternal and child health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

I currently work as an internal coach and faculty member with the Maternal and Child Health Program, Division of Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and am well-connected in the field. I am also a faculty member with the UIC DrPH in Leadership program (since 2012) where I am an advisor and faculty member. I teach a core course in personal leadership development. I have worked at UIC since 2000. I also have a private executive and leadership coaching practice that I have maintained since 2005. Beyond my formal education, I am a lifelong learner studying a range of programs that bring the human spirit alive. I am a yoga teacher and embodyment yoga therapist trained through Svaroopa Yoga. This gentle form of yoga is focused on eliminating chronic pain and helping people to be more mindful in and about their lives. I believe this level of work is a cutting-edge in our world and will improve public health. For additional information you can visit my linkedin profile at or you can visit my website at

Ready To Get Started With Kris?

Order online below!
Three 30-Minute Coaching Sessions
The Career Coaching service matches individuals with a personal coach--a confidant, champion, and challenger who will help you:
  • Gain personalized guidance through job transitions
  • Prepare and navigate through your annual reviews
  • Leverage your behavioral and professional strengths effectively
  • Diagnose reasons for career dissatisfaction
  • Learn how to take action in networking, interviewing, and taking on new opportunities
With Career Coaching you can:
  • Learn how your behavioral style affects those you work with
  • Build a compelling value proposition for a potential employer
  • Manage change more effectively
  • Overcome hurdles that impede success
  • Sustain professional success and maintain balance
  • Get ongoing support through all phases of your career

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