Our Team

Maria Nemeth, PhD, MCC

Founder, Director, & Master Course Leader

Maria Nemeth helps purpose-driven people everywhere see their greatness and bring it all to life.

Designed and refined over decades of work with people all over the world, her Illuminated Life Method™ turns timeless wisdom into practical skills that have helped tens of thousands to live and serve with clarity, focus, ease, and grace.

As Founder and Director of the Academy for Coaching Excellence, she has trained thousands of people worldwide in the nonprofit, for-profit, and governmental sectors.

She is a leading expert in leadership excellence, personal/professional development, and financial empowerment, whose work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. A lifelong agent of social change, Maria has contributed in areas such as civil rights, racial justice, women’s empowerment, health & human services, LGBTQ rights, and climate justice.

Maria is the author of two highly-acclaimed books: The Energy of Money, available in five languages, and its follow-up, Mastering Life’s Energies, both of which have given people everywhere a way to begin putting success principles into immediate practice in their lives.

Beth Ann Suggs, PCC

Senior Course Leader & Dean of Students

Beth Ann Suggs - HeadshotA nationally acclaimed Professional Certified Coach, Beth Ann Suggs is an expert in helping individuals and teams develop successful, empowering relationships. As Dean of Students, Mentor Coach, and Course Leader for the Academy for Coaching Excellence, she brings compassion, clarity, and universal values to all aspects of her coaching.

For more than 30 years she has been making significant contributions to the field of coaching. Her approach as a Mentor Coach has empowered the lives of hundreds of people who have benefited from her dynamic leadership and guidance. Recently, her presentations on behalf of the Academy for Coaching Excellence have included being the keynote speaker at a national conference for coaches and, as an executive business coach, providing staff training in major corporations and various organizations throughout the United States.

As an ordained Unity Minister, Beth Ann served the Unity Church in Ventura, California for 19 years. Since 1993, she has provided consulting and leadership training for churches nationwide.

Wayne Manning, PCC

Senior Course Leader & Director of Academic Development

Wayne Manning - HeadshotA Unity Minister and former Mayor of Unity Village, Wayne Manning became a coach instructor and course leader for the Academy for Coaching Excellence upon graduation from its first class of certified coaches in 2003. He serves as a Mentor Coach for Academy student coaches, and also directs the creation and presentation of personal and professional development webinars for aspiring coaches and for professional coaches needing Continuing Coach Education Units. His most recent collaboration with Maria Nemeth, Unleashing the Energy of Money, has attracted participants and coaches worldwide from such countries as India, Turkey, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Sweden, and Denmark.

Wayne conducts a private coaching practice, Manning Coaching and Consulting, in Grants Pass, OR.

Rita Saenz

Senior Course Leader & Strategic Advisor

Rita Saenz - Headshot - Square - 1000x1000Rita Saenz is the former Director of the California Department of Social Services, a government agency with a $21 billion budget and 4,700 employees. Her expertise lies in executive and organizational development, public policy, and government affairs. She served on the Board of the Plexus Institute. She is on the National Policy Council of AARP, the Executive Council of AARP of California, and the California Asset Building Coalition Steering Committee. She is also a Governor’s appointee as Commissioner on the California Commission on Aging.

Her work as a successful executive has made her a sought after consultant and coach trainer. Ms. Saenz has received statewide and national recognition for her work as a leader, including being named the by the Latino Journal as one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in the country. She continues to work with corporations, small businesses, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations, and uses her coaching background to foster the success of individuals, families, communities, and organizations.

Zo Tobi, PCC

Course Leader & Director of Communications

Zo Tobi - Headshot

Zo Tobi helps people live lives they are proud of, and end their day saying: “YES! I did what I came here to do.” He is a Professional Certified Coach, founder of Coaching for Social Change, and Course Leader with the Academy for Coaching Excellence, as well as an accomplished socially conscious rock musician and social movement organizer.

Zo leads our transformational courses, and ensures that our communications represent a beautiful and authentic expression of who we are as an organization.

“I am inspired every day by the vision of a movement of thriving, resilient, spiritually-grounded changemakers, finding their place and calling forth the best in humanity as we navigate one of the most crisis-filled times in history. To me, this is what our work is all about.”

Zo has served as a regional organizer and national campaign director for the Sierra Student Coalition, as well as a co-founder and co-director for Generation Waking Up. He is dedicated to building resilient movements for social change, based on the timeless principles of compassion, generosity, and service which describe the human spirit.

Jeremy Blanchard, PCC

Course Leader & Director of Enrollment

Jeremy Blanchard - HeadshotJeremy Blanchard is in charge of creating the systems and opportunities for the work of the Academy to be shared across a wide variety of contexts. He designs and implements the Academy’s foundational enrollment webinars, and is in charge of building relationships with potential partners interested in growing the Academy’s community.

“There’s a moment when someone sees the possibility of saying yes to a new path forward with their life. When they say yes to a program, they’re really saying yes to a new journey for themselves. That is the kind of moment I live for… It’s transformational.”

He is a Professional Certified Coach as well as a Course Leader. Jeremy is a co-founder of Coaching for Social Change. His passion for coaching springs forth from his vision of a world where everyone is supported 100% to share their gifts with the world.


Josh Van Vliet, ACC

Director of Community Partnerships

As Director of Community Partnerships, Josh Van Vliet builds pathways for more people to engage with this work. He develops opportunities for the senior staff to speak in a variety of settings, such as conferences, trainings, and transformational events. Josh also leads the coordination, implementation, and evaluation of Academy programs.

He is a co-founder of Coaching for Social Change, and has served as a dance teacher for kids and adults, and a program coordinator for dance and movement classes. He is also a renowned dancer and musician.

Nancy DeCandia

Director of Finance

Nancy DeCandia stewards the finances for the Academy and is a stand for the Academy’s financial integrity, well-being, and prosperity.

Brittney Ah-Yun

Director of Operations

Brittney Ah-Yun manages the day-to-day operations of the Academy and helps ensure that all who interact with the Academy in any way consistently experience the highest level of service.