Our Team

Staff 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, and health & human services.

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.

Rita Saenz

Co-Founder & 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.

Beth Ann Suggs, PCC

Dean of Students & Senior Course Leader

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

Director of Academic Development

A 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. A 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 El Dorado Hills, CA.

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 supports the team to bring together the people who’d most benefit from our work. 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.”

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, PCC

Director of Community Partnerships

As Director of Community Partnerships, Josh helps people do together what they could not do alone. 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.

“What would it be like to live in a world in which everyone was supported 100%? I believe this work will help us achieve that vision, and that’s why I do this.”

Josh is an Professional Certified Coach, Course Leader, and Senior Coach with the Academy for Coaching Excellence. He orchestrates program coordination, community engagement, and strategic partnerships.

He has served as a co-founder and co-director of Coaching for Social Change, a coach and trainer for social entrepreneurs with Move The Crowd, and a dancer, teacher, 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.

Patricia Casasola

Administrative Assistant

Patricia supports and assists with the ACE Staff. “The work, dedication and compassion the ACE staff has for people is awe-inspiring for me. I am honored to be part of such a group of wonderful people.”

Mentor Coaches

Photos & bios forthcoming

  • Catrine Berndtson, PCC
  • Jeremy Blanchard, PCC
  • Carolyn Ingram, PCC
  • Janet MacDonald, PCC
  • Johanna Höglund, PCC
  • Margi Mainquist, MS
  • Wayne Manning, PCC
  • Carole Rehbock, MCC
  • Allison Roeser, PCC
  • Beth Ann Suggs, PCC
  • Zo Tobi, PCC