What makes take a breath coaching unique?

We help women association executives lead at their best with Courageous Authenticity® so that they can make a difference and achieve their career goals. Courageous Authenticity®is embracing your unique purpose, power and presence.

Too often women leaders don’t take the time to find out who they are at their best and use their courage to show up in ways that are in alignment with their best self. They experience pressure to be like other leaders, even if it does not serve them. Sometimes they are reluctant to show others who they are and allow themselves to be fully seen and heard.

Women in the non-profit sector in particular are motivated by making a difference. Unfortunately, they feel pulled in multiple directions and can experience guilt if they take too much time for their own goals and priorities.  

When women lead as their best self with Courageous Authenticity®, they fully embrace their core values and beliefs, align their daily activities around these core values, practice their unique strengths and act with integrity.

Our Leadership Coaching Model

As a Take A Breath Coaching client, you will work to lead at your best with Courageous Authenticity®. Specifically, you will embrace your unique purpose, power and presence so that you can make a difference and acheive your career goals.

Partnering Courageous Authencity® with best practices in effective leadership results in you making an impact with integrity. You will also focus on leading in all four domains of your life - self, work, home and community and ensuring that all domains are well integrated

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Working with Take a Breath Coaching

Contact us to arrange a complimentary Lead with Courageous Authenticity® session. During this session, you will learn if coaching is right for you and if we are the right coach for you. You will also:

  • Identify your desired outcomes

  • Determine ways to measure success using quantifiable methods

  • Learn about different coaching options, such as both individual and group coaching

OUr Philosophy

  • Take a Breath Coaching clients are in charge of the coaching process.

  • Take a Breath Coaching clients are capable of change.

  • Take a Breath Coaching clients are whole and healthy.

  • Take a Breath Coaching clients are free to end a coaching agreement if they determine the time is not right for them to continue coaching.

  • Take a Breath Coaching clients make positive change by focusing on enhancing their strengths and learning to replicate successful efforts.

Four elements of coaching

  • Goal setting

  • Accountability

  • Action

  • Awareness

Source: 2009 Global Coach Client Survey, International Coach Federation


You determine your desired outcomes. However, the following list of outcomes represent many of the issues Take A Breath Coaching clients choose to improve in their professional and personal lives:

  • Learning how to honor all four areas of life - work, family/friends, community and self - in order to bring your best self to your life.

  • Clarifying one's values and determining how best to live by those values

  • Learning one's strengths and deciding how to lead with those strengths

  • Exploring how to develop the courage to lead from a place of authencity and empowerment

  • Becoming more emotionally centered and calm in the face of challenges

  • Discovering how to have more energy in order to achieve professional and personal goals

  • Learning the behaviors of effective leaders and how best to incorporate those behaviors

  • Renew a commitment to self-care and designing a plan to prioritize health and wellness

Cathy Smalley Pales, Ed.D.

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is not another collection of words in the English language that better expresses my philosophy than Emerson’s quote. My purpose is to help others not stand in their own sunshine. Standing in our own sunshine happens anytime we hold ourselves back due to self-limiting beliefs or actions.

As the owner of Take A Breath Coaching, I help women association executives to lead at their best with Courageous Authenticity® so that they can make a difference and achieve their career goals. Courageous Authenticity® is embracing your unique purpose, power and presence.

I have spent my entire career in education and associations supporting women’s leadership development. Women make up 75% of the non-profit workforce yet they lead fewer than 25% of medium and large-sized non-profit organizations. Women in associations work in the service of others, but unfortunately often do not take the time to be in service to themselves. When women embrace their best selves and lead with courageous authenticity, they are better equipped to be a force for change and achieve higher levels of leadership authority. They show others who they are and allow themselves to be fully seen and heard.

Whether I am running my coaching practice, leading a group fitness class, being a foster parent, serving as a volunteer mediator or leading a business women’s group, I want to help others be curious, find new paths and discover possibilities.


  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Change, University of Virginia

  • Graduate, Georgetown University Leadership Coaching Program

  • Chair, Business Women’s Round Table, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce


Cathy Smalley Pales, Ed.D., Owner of Take a Breath Coaching

Cathy Smalley Pales, Ed.D., Owner of Take a Breath Coaching