Our Team

Maria Nemeth, PhD, MCC

Founder, Director, & Senior Course Leader

Maria Nemeth - Headshot 1

Maria Nemeth, known as the “Master Coach for Purpose-Driven Leaders,” 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 - HeadshotBeth Ann Suggs is an expert at building relationships with people. 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 a major corporation and various organizations throughout the United States.

Prior to her work with the Academy for Coaching Excellence, Beth Ann Suggs was ordained as a Unity Minister in 1984 and served the Unity Church in Ventura, California for 19 years. Since 1993, she has provided consulting and leadership training for New Thought Churches nationwide.

Wayne Manning, PCC

Senior Course Leader & Director of Academic Development

Wayne Manning - HeadshotWayne Manning became a coach instructor and course leader for the Academy for Coaching Excellence upon graduation from its first graduating class of certified coaches in 2003. He leads or co-leads all of the core coach training courses and serves as a mentor coach for Academy student coaches. He works closely with Academy founder, author, renowned life coach, and clinical psychologist, Maria Nemeth. Together they develop and present coach training and continuing education webinars for aspiring coaches and professional coaches. Their work at the Academy for Coaching Excellence attracts participants and coaches worldwide.

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, based on her experience in business and the public sector. She has worked with corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and faith-based organizations. She is also the former CEO of the Academy for Coaching Excellence.

Her work as a successful business coach 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 Latin Journal as one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in the country. She served on the Board of the Plexus Institute 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 supports the team to bring together the people who’d most benefit from our work.

“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.”

Jeremy is a Course Leader and Senior Coach with the Academy for Coaching Excellence. His passion for coaching springs forth from his vision of a world where everyone is supported 100% to share their gifts with the world.

Before becoming a coach, he held leadership roles on many climate justice teams. His enthusiastic nature has often been compared to that of a puppy.


Josh Van Vliet, ACC

Director of Community and Partnerships

Josh leads the creation, implementation, and evaluation of programs.

“I do this work to unleash the next generation of creative, audacious, transformative leaders.”

Josh is a professional coach, dancer, teacher, and musician, as well as social entrepreneurship coach & trainer for Move The Crowd.

He has taught swing and blues dancing; worked as a case manager with Gilead Community Services supporting clients with mental illness to live independently; and led movement classes for kids in schools through Recess Rocks.

Nancy DeCandia

Director of Finance

Bio forthcoming

Brittney Ah-Yun

Director of Operations

Bio forthcoming