Self-Leadership Collaborative, LLC
Self-Leadership Collaborative, LLC

Our Team

Founder and Executive Director of the Self-Leadership Collaborative:
Joanna Curry-Sartori, MS LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) 

With 20 years of experience as an educator, program director and leader in the field of mindfulness and yoga, Ms. Curry-Sartori has spent the last eight years  introducing and integrating Self-Leadership, mindfulness, and social and emotional learning into over 100 schools in the Greater Hartford Area. Now endorsed by the Foundation for Self-Leadership,  Joanna is an innovator and pioneer in the global effort to develop and integrate the transformative benefits of the IFS model in school systems.  Joanna is a national presenter with PESI, and is a faculty member of  the Copper Beech Institute, specializing in consulting with schools on the integration of contemplative practices.  Joanna has a clinical private practice in Newington, CT, where she works with children, teens, families, and individual adults. Whether she is consulting with administrators, presenting to parents and teachers, or hands-on in classrooms with students,  Joanna is passionate about working with people of all ages to discover and support their innate calm, confidence, courage and compassion.

Joanna Curry-Sartori with Jody Nelson at IFS Conference 2019

Global Associates and Collaborators

Collaborators around the world are bringing Self-Leadership to schools in creative, impactful ways. Collectively we share best practices  and innovations to strengthen and evolve our various approaches to optimally benefit to our school communities.

Tim Amaral is an award-winning teacher from Salinas CA who works with at-risk adults in a multi-level, multi-lingual high school equivalency program. His wonderful students bring with them a wide variety of diagnoses and disorders as well as issues of addiction, complex trauma, and incarceration. He applies IFS principles in the classroom to produce an extremely safe and welcoming space, resulting in a graduation rate that is 4 to 5 times higher than the average. Since 1992, his students have gone from being called challenged, traumatized, and "resistant" to being called college graduates that are bio-physicists, bio-chemists, artists, teachers, and really good parents whose own children go to college. In addition to his extensive experience as a classroom teacher, he has spent 32 years as a martial arts instructor and 9 years as the communications director for the Breakthrough Men's Community, a men's group dedicated to healing, recovery, and support.

Jane Hawkes MSc, BSc, CTA, UKCP Registered Psychotherapist is a Director of Values-based Education (VbE), which is helping to transform education worldwide. She is an experienced and highly respected psychotherapist. For many years Jane worked as an innovative trainer and guidance counsellor, supporting disaffected young people. Jane now actively supports the theoretical development of Values-based Education (VbE) and is one of its key presenters. Her recent book, co-authored with her husband Neil is called, The Inner Curriculum: how to nourish wellbeing, resilience and self-leadership. In recent years Jane has studied the Internal Family System (IFS) of psychotherapy in the UK and USA.  Her particular academic and professional interests are focused on supporting both adults and children to understand their inner world of thoughts, sensations, emotions and behaviours. She believes that as we compassionately open our hearts and minds to our internal world, it releases our sense of Self, which is essential when establishing a peaceful, loving world. She is also an enthusiastic yoga practitioner and teacher.

Dr. Neil Hawkes is well known as an inspirational speaker, educator, broadcaster, author and social commentator. He is a popular TEDx presenter. Neil's thinking is having a profound influence on schools and more widely in society. Neil first gained international recognition when he was a Headteacher in Oxfordshire, UK. Here he worked with a school community to devise and implement a pedagogical system that would give children a transformational vocabulary, based on values such as respect, tolerance, humility and justice. The school community found that the children were empowered to be self-leaders, with an active ethical compass that affected behaviour, their thinking and the quality of their schoolwork. Today Neil’s philosophy has spread into all aspects of society and is known as Values-based Living. Neil founded The International Values based Trust, and its educational arm Values-based Education,​ His bestselling book, From My Heart, transforming lives through values, celebrates the success of VbE worldwide. Neil’s latest book co-authored with Jane Hawkes, is called The Inner Curriculum, how to nurture well-being, resilience and self-leadership. More information about Dr Hawkes can be found at ​

Dr. Seth Kopald, became an Internal Family Systems (IFS) practitioner in 2012. As an Insight Coach, he leads individual sessions, couple communication sessions, and groups. Seth creates a safe space and guides people to care for themselves in a loving and insightful way. He has a PhD in Organizational Management with a Specialization in Leadership and holds a Masters in Education. Seth has contributed to the IFS community by initiating the IFS Self-led Parenting and the Parts Art Facebook pages. He has developed IFS related parenting videos and podcasts, and he has written articles on parenting and couples communication. He also is a staff member for IFS trainings. Most recently, he coaches principals participating in bringing IFS to their schools. To learn more visit: ​

Dr. Jody Nelson, Ed.D., MA-LMFT is Executive Director of Change Inc. – a community-based social service agency providing school-based mental health services in 30 schools in the Twin Cities. For the past several years, the Foundation for Self Leadership has supported Jody’s work to bring IFS principles and practices to teachers and schools. She has presented on IFS & Schools in past IFS Annual Conferences and is part of an IFS movement to expand and deepen this work.

Self-Leadership School Coaches & Consultants

Our Self-Leadership School Coaches and Consultants have years of experience in school systems and practicing IFS in multiple settings. They support learning events and practice sessions with school staff and offer their specialized mentorship to ensure success of the model. Many of them are also available to offer individual and small group coaching or therapy and you are welcome to contact them directly for these services.

Margaret Ennis, MA, LPC, has over 40 years of experience in educational and clinical program development, training and implementation. She worked at the Mind/Body Medical Institute of Beth-Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School as the Director of Training for Relaxation Therapies and the Director of Training for MBMI’s Education Initiative. She has directly trained thousands of people in social and emotional intelligence and trained hundreds of doctors, nurses, social workers and educators to bring comprehensive wellness skills to their patients, clients and students. She was a major contributor to the Mind/Body Medical Institute’s Wellness Book and has also contributed to training manuals, audio and video materials and educational and clinical research articles. She continues to bring her experience in Mind/Body Integration as a consultant to an Integrative Medicine residency training program. Prior to her work in Behavioral Medicine, Margaret spent 11 years in elementary and junior high educational systems as a teacher and then the Director of a New Jersey Chapter 1 Remedial Education Program. Margaret has been a practicing psychotherapist in private practice for over twenty-five years. She has been studying and integration the IFS model into her clinical practice since 2011.

Julie Abrams Faude Dr. Faude (M.A., Ph.D.) has been working in educational settings and in private practice for the past 30 years. Her Post-Doctoral Fellowship at UPenn (in Family Systems and Community Psychology) gave her a solid educational foundation and also stoked a life-long passion for making the world a better place through early intervention, supporting parents and educators, and expanding the important role of mindful awareness practices. Dr. Faude is thrilled to have discovered IFS and continues to do rigorous training in the model. She participates in online and in-person IFS interest groups, community gatherings, national conferences, workshops, supervision and, of course, her own IFS therapy. IFS has proved to be the best tool she has found to compassionately transform home and school environments. She is thrilled to share her experiences with you as a Lower School Psychologist at a Philadelphia suburban Independent school. Please reach out: Email: ​or Twitter: @JulieFaude, Facebook: Julie Abrams Faude, Instagram: @juliefaude

Amanda Mihaly is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified School Social Worker in the state of Connecticut. She has ten years of experience working in middle school and high school settings, and now works in private practice in Glastonbury, CT. She is a Level II trained IFS therapist and uses the model in various ways with her clients. She comes to her role as a Self Leadership Coach with the Self Leadership Collaboration with first-hand experience and understanding of how bringing this model into a school community can transform relationships among staff and students alike. She is honored to be a part of the important and exciting journey of shaping school culture and outcomes through Self Leadership. Contact Info: 255 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury, CT 06033, (860)759-2525

Amy Schaefer, M.A. is an art teacher at Frank Strong Ward Middle School in Durham, CT and the 2020 Teacher of the Year for Regional School District 13.  Amy is a member of the district’s Well-Being Committee and is part of a cohort in the middle school intensively studying the Self-leadership Collaborative Approach, looking for ways to incorporate it for personal well-being as well as with students, in classrooms, and across the school. Amy presents at conferences and workshops on her creative integration of mindfulness and Self-Leadership in the classroom and recently wrote an article on her experience for "Outlook Magazine" published by the Foundation for Self Leadership.

David F. Smith, LCSW David Smith is a practicing Clinical Social Worker with the Town of Glastonbury Youth & Family Services. David has served as a program assistant for numerous IFS trainings and enthusiastically integrates the model with students in both the clinical and school based settings.

Alexanda (Sandy) Barbo, PhDis a psychologist licensed in three states (FL, PA, NJ) with over 25 years of private practice experience offering psychotherapy to children, teens, families, and adults. Trained in School Psychology, she has provided consultation to parents, teachers, and school administrators in a wide variety of settings including the NJ State Day Care System, NJ Pre-School Handicapped and Early Intervention, as well as at the primary and high school grade levels across three states. She has taught graduate students at New York University and Hebrew Union College. Dr. Barbo is excited and committed to bridging the IFS model with school communities as a way to address the critical, growing mental health needs of our youth. She believes IFS provides a foundational roadmap for healthy human interactions grounded in a deep relational understanding of each individual’s inner world. She hopes to foster our understanding of the interconnections between that inner world and the outside environment. Contact information:

Anna Tansi, MS Org. Dev. Anna Tansi has been practicing, teaching, and coaching the IFS model to leaders, organizations, clinicians, and teachers for over nine years. She integrates IFS with her 25+ years in Organization Development to address a diverse array of organization issues, which involves coaching business leaders, helping organizations navigate times of complex change, facilitating teams addressing challenging interpersonal dynamics, and helping individuals optimize their own effectiveness at work and in their life. She has facilitated several teacher and administrator Self Leadership workshops, as well as groups of teacher leaders who are in training to become school principals. Anna co-designed the 6-week global webinar, “IFS-Inspired Coaching: Aligning The Inner System,” and co-facilitated a comparable in-person seminar at the 2018 annual IFS Institute Conference. With her blended method, she offers a practical approach to strengthen the ability to “see systems” - both our own inner operating system as well as the broader school culture that we help create and influence.

Theresa Velendzas is a Certified IFS Practitioner who uses Internal Family Systems (IFS) in her private wellness coaching practice and as a consultant in schools. Theresa blends her experience in advocacy, Self-leadership, fitness, and management to facilitate individualized and sustainable wellness habits for growth and success. In schools, Theresa works directly with students and teachers to cultivate a person-centered learning environment that builds a culture of caring, connectedness, compassion and creativity. Theresa’s vision is to inspire more ripples that bring self-leadership to individuals, families, and communities. In individualized coaching, Theresa helps clients build personalized healthy lifestyle practices that make fitness and wellness a priority that evolves with the person. Coaching services are often walking sessions and also available in the office or via video chat. Contact directly at:​, 860-421-3971 or visit