Virginia's business career started in the 1980s on Wall Street as an investment banker, followed by brand management at Frito-Lay and General Mills, and an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth. In the early 90s she bought a one-way ticket to the Himalayas and didn’t look back. After a trekking season in Nepal, she returned to the US and became an instructor for the Pacific Crest Outward Bound School, designing and facilitating adventure-based leadership programs for executive teams all over the country. She hung a shingle out as a leadership development coach and was snatched up first by Nike Global to assist in their leadership programs. She then built a thriving coaching practice with C-level executives of progressive fast-growing Seattle-area companies. Along the way, Virginia took an MA in Psychology at Antioch University and taught leadership and management courses at two of Seattle’s universities. In her personal life, she became smitten with the Lindy Hop style of swing dancing and performed with Seattle’s oldest swing dance troupe. She reconnected with her passion for horses and received training in the ancient art of dressage, an athletic mounted dance with horses. A few years ago, Virginia combined this equine training with her leadership development practice and now offers Equine-Guided Coaching where her clients are literally learning with and from the horse. She and her husband John McConnell are business partners and run the Jempe Center at Pegasus Ranch on South Whidbey Island.
John has combined corporate athleticism, outdoor education and embodied leadership into a truly comprehensive mind/body practice for building better executives. His approach integrates: corporate psychology, team-building, systems thinking, Emotional Intelligence, sports training, experiential learning and neuroscience principles. As a senior faculty member at National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) for a decade, John trained instructors to run high stakes, real world professional training expeditions and his work helped take the NOLS curriculum to a new level, designing programs which led to NOLS signing NASA as a corporate client. John is a Master Somatic Coach through Strozzi Institute and has a Masters in Applied Behavioral Science from the Leadership Institute of Seattle. John was based within Microsoft for his thesis work, examining teamwork and leadership in rapidly changing high tech and entrepreneurial settings. He started his own personal and professional coaching company in 1997 (the Ascent Institute) and now is in partnership with his wife and fellow leadership coach Virginia Rhoads at Jempe Center. Through his practice he has created a truly unique approach to leadership training, a meld of physical, mental and emotional to achieve elite performance in executives who then thrive in today’s challenges. In his personal life, John in an adventurer at heart and a passionate photographer. His adventures have ranged from photographing an Everest expedition to a multi-month bike tour in New Zealand. He has expanded his own limits through experiences like climbing Mt Rainier, door-to-door, in 24 hrs, and participating in shamanic rituals with indigenous tribes deep in the Amazonian rain forest. His latest passion is learning how to be a steward of Pegasus Ranch -- splitting firewood, harvesting fruit, planting trees, clearing trails, mending fences, tending beehives, and building things.
Jempe Center is located at Pegasus Ranch on South Whidbey Island, 30 miles north of Seattle. To learn more about our home base of operations please visit our personal website @ PegasusRanch.us.