Learn about who we have worked with and what they say


We love to share more about the clients we’ve worked with and the positive impact our time together has. We’ve partnered with around 35  organisations to date plus hundreds of individual leaders.


Many of our relationships span years, as our partnership extends out from the CEO to the executive team and beyond. We are incredibly touched that over 70% of our clients work with us again or actively refer.

A selection of our wonderful clients

Hear from our clients

First 90 Days Program


“Working with Elise meant I benefited from a solid approach to my first 90 days as CEO. It helped me clarify the job expectations, contributed to me effectively prioritising my work over those first crucial few months, and assisted in decision-making. The other part that I think is highly valuable is the structured approach it brought to developing my rapport with the Chair of the board.  Overall, a great way to start out in a new role that was important to both me, and the Foundation, to get right.”

Michael Hornby, CEO, Prince Charles Hospital Foundation


“The First 90 Days program was invaluable because it gave focus to critical areas early in the tenure of our new CEO. Elise has a style that makes it easy to open up about the thorny issues and she facilitates discussions very well, offering good insights. The combination of her skills and the structured approach meant healthy discussions took place. Preparing the KPI’s and assisting guide the suggested allocation of time for the new CEO was very helpful as well. I would highly recommend it.”

Bernard Curran, Chair, Creche & Kindergarten Association & Chair, Prince Charles Hospital Foundation


“During the 3 months Elise and I worked together I gained perceptive insights and it challenged my thinking around processes. Working together helped clarify my role and the expectations, contributed to stronger and more honest working relationships with the Chairs of the board, and contributed to a stronger vision of what needs to get done.”

Belinda Leonard, CEO, Nordoff Robins Music Therapy Association



Executive and Teams


“We just did in 1 day, what would have taken us 6 months”. – Comment at the close of a 1 day leadership team development workshop.

Marcus Watson, BackTrack


“We engaged Elise from Leadership Space to facilitate our strategic planning. She gained my trust quickly and brought to the conversations a level of value and insight that included our culture, leadership and strategy. Over a period of 9 months, Elise partnered with myself and the CEO. At the end of this process we have a more cohesive Board and Executive, higher quality leadership relationships, and a strategy that we are deeply excited about and aligned to.”

Louise Thurgood-Phillips, Chair, Emanuel Synagogue


“Leadership Space was formative in a time of change and transition at Brisbane Powerhouse. The combination of personality profiling, a team workshop and then ongoing coaching for the leadership team was critical in not only setting strategic direction, but maintaining our focus on getting there. Barb and Elise have the right mix of NFP understanding, expert facilitation tools and a gentle/firm touch, depending on what was needed.”

Fiona Maxwell, CEO, Brisbane Powerhouse


“Elise from Leadership Space has provided team and individual coaching to members of the C&K Executive Leadership Team over the past 3 years.  C&K has been going through a period of complex organisational change and has been working to clarify its strategic direction in  a complex and rapidly changing environment. No longer is the early childhood education and care sector dominated by not for profits (NFP) and organisations like C&K who wish to maintain their NFP values and compete in this market face challenging questions.  Managing this change presents many challenges for the executive team and Elise’s coaching has been instrumental to our success as a team and individually as we work to address ‘wicked questions’, high workloads and complex change. We value Elise’s expertise and excellent coaching skills with our team.”

Michael Tizard, CEO, The Creche and Kindergarten Association


“Leadership Space has been supporting Sylvanvale as we steer our way through this very dynamic time in the disability sector, with the introduction of the NDIS.  Through individual coaching, team coaching and workshop facilitation, Leadership Space has worked with Sylvanvale’s Executive Leadership team to support each leader’s personal commitment to greater collaboration and team cohesion. This has enabled our leadership to clearly understand and deliver on the outcomes necessary for Sylvanvale’s success.”

Leanne Fretten, CEO, Sylvanvale Foundation


Over the last 18 months we have worked extensively with Elise Sernik to develop our strategic direction and to facilitate a number of key executive staff interactions. Elise is highly professional and brought experience, energy and clarity to the tasks assigned to her.  She was able to articulate the issues succinctly and keep us moving towards a meaningful and useful set of decisions. She has a deep understanding of the not-for-profit sector but I believe that her skills can easily translate into the ‘for profit’ sector as well. I have no hesitation in recommending her.

Jonathan Harris, Chair, Woodbury Autism and Education


“Leadership Space has been our partners in a whole-of-organisation cultural change process. Through individual coaching, team coaching and workshop facilitation, Leadership Space has worked across all levels of Artbank. Barb has been pivotal in this process by supporting our people to build a stronger culture of personal empowerment and collaborative engagement to achieve the outcomes necessary for Artbank’s success.”

Tony Stephens, Director, Artbank


“Thank you 3 times over for facilitating TFN’s team development day. As we charge forward, I think we will later reflect on this day as a cultural moment for our team. It was just the right balance of useful and emotional, accelerating our chances of gelling and working together successfully.”

Tom Hull, General Manager, The Funding Network (TFN)


“I can’t overstate the value that Leadership Space has provided to One Health Organisation and to me personally as CEO. Elise knows the social purpose sector intimately and is one of our most trusted mentors and challengers. She has brought tools to our organisation and to the leadership team which have transformed the quality of our thinking and our capacity to stretch the thinking of the ventures who we in turn support. She has facilitated our critical strategic planning, trained and mentored our staff, and provides me with the kind of high quality thought partnership which leaders of complexity require.  She is courageous, insightful, generous and highly skilled as both a facilitator and an executive coach. I would highly recommend her and the team to any organisation or leader committed to tackling complex social change.”

NB. After OHO engaged Leadership Space in 2016, they were ranked 2nd on the Australia-wide Innovation Index.

Jimi Wollumbin, CEO, One Health Organisation


“Leadership Space was a sensational facilitator of our Board Review. The project challenged us but more importantly got us all on the same page, even on contentious, long-standing issues. Elise is a consummate professional: highly skilled with individual conversations, able to generate productive group sessions, and to get the whole team signed up to important change. Even the report was succinct and compelling. If anyone is hesitating about whether to engage Leadership Space on a project to support the development of their Board, my counsel is, ‘Do it.’ If you have any regrets, it will be that you didn’t do it sooner!”

Suzie Riddell, Executive Director, Education, SVA & Director, Holdsworth Community Services Centre


“I have really enjoyed enjoyed the support I have received from Barb Barkley.  Through a process of reflection Barb has helped me learn more about myself and my strengths and gaps as a leader.  Barb assisted me during a critical time of joining a new organisation and setting the strategy for increasing UNICEF Australia’s impact for children through our Policy and Advocacy work.  Though our coaching sessions, Barb assisted me to stay focussed on my goals and helped me determine the steps that I could most effectively take to achieve them.  Our coaching sessions enabled me to reflect and consider different perspectives in my leadership.  Barb extended this support through a facilitated session with the Policy and Advocacy team, enabling us to clarify as a group how we progress UNICEF Australia’s goals and responsibilities in working with Governments to uphold the United Nations’ conventions on the rights of the child.  I would recommend Barb as a coach to anyone seeking to stretch themselves as a social purpose leader.”

Nicole Breeze, Director of Policy and Advocacy, UNICEF Australia


Elise has constantly challenged me throughout my coaching process and guided me to work on personal and professional behaviours that need improvement. She has inspired me to become more of an active and engaged learner during both group and individual settings and encouraged me to generate my own ideas and solutions rather than providing these to me. I have felt valued and supported throughout the coaching process.

Kim Douglas, General Manager, Marketing and Communications, Creche & Kindergarten Association


“My coaching with Barb has provided me with the impetus to set aside time and head space for working on my own professional development. My sessions are always insightful and enjoyable but above all they give me greater clarity and confidence in the robustness of my leadership decisions. Her coaching provides a supportive environment to test my assumptions and reflect on my approach to complex situations and I walk away with a much clearer pathway forward. Invaluable!”

Marnie Karmelita, Head of Programming, New Zealand Festival


“Elise is a born facilitator and coach. Combining deep emotional intelligence with a knowledge of and passion for social impact leadership, Elise enables emerging and established leaders to become more effective and purposeful in achieving their goals. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat.”

Janine Hoffman, former General Manager, Centre for Social Impact


“I highly recommend executive coaching with Elise. I was skilfully supported to more effectively manage Board dynamics during a strategic review. It was thought provoking, practical, and purposeful. Overall, a valuable opportunity to become a more competent and capable leader.”

Executive Director, Philanthropic Foundation


 “Elise worked with Milk Crate Theatre on our Board Review. We gained a clear and united view of the kind of person and skills we wanted and needed with regards to a new Chairperson. The one-on-one interviews with Directors provided great value, highlighting areas the board needed to resolve and agree on as a team, as well as gaps and opportunities to further strengthen the organisation. The facilitated workshop clarified our position on key issues and introduced us to useful frameworks to extend our strategic thinking. Thanks for partnering with us on this work.”

Angus White, former Chair, Milk Crate Theatre & Chair, Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Foundation.


“Leadership Space facilitated a sharpened awareness of our needs as a Board. Before the review we were focused on governance and processes but understood our industry was facing a paradigm shift in service delivery, culture and competition. Now we’re really talking about leadership and how we fulfill this. The project gave us a wake-up call and initiated the first steps needed to commence the change. I feel so much more energised now. It was valuable time out to reflect and we now have a clear picture of success for ourselves as a Board and are on that journey. Elise did a fantastic job.”

Wendy Miller, Board Director, Holdsworth Community Services, previously CFO Benevolent Society


“I’d like to thank you for the half-day offsite workshop that you did with the team. It was a great session and really useful, and I’d certainly consider using Leadership Space again in the future.”

Antonia Ruffell, CEO, Australian Philanthropic Services


“Elise has a flair for delivering a really good mix of exercises. As both a facilitator and coach she is very effective. She is engaging and professional and brings deep experience and passion. I gained valuable context and insight, and would highly recommend her.”



Career Coaching


“Elise coached me through a significant career transition.  She helped me to crystallise my values and sense of purpose, and translate these into a clear picture of what a purposeful, meaningful work and life looked like, with actions. I gained greater self awareness of my skills and expertise and the areas that I wanted to work in, and the confidence to walk this path.   


Elise is exceptional at navigating road blocks above and below the waterline – working through internal challenges and resistance to change, while ensuring progress and actions were tracked and delivered. Elise is a powerful coach, she has a huge amount of empathy and ability to connect; and supported deep transformation in my life.  She also has solid business skills, providing practical advice and feedback when needed.  Having trained as a coach myself I set a fairly high bar, and Elise easily surpassed this.  I highly recommend her and would love to work with her again.”

Claire McKendrick, NSW Health to independent consultant


“From the moment I started working with Elise, I felt engaged and committed to my goal of a significant career shift. Her process provides momentum, ensuring I was moving forward, rather than drifting. Importantly, Elise opened my mind to new paths and opportunities that I hadn’t previously considered. Once I started interviewing, Elise proved to be a great resource and gave me a significant edge during what was a highly competitive process. I found the process stimulating, challenging and ultimately rewarding – securing a great role in a new industry. Success!“

Richard Lindell, Director, International CFO Forum


“Elise is an exceptional and intuitive guide for professional transitions.  She brought an immense range of knowledge, helpful resources and tools, and a whole-person consideration that enabled me anchor into myself and create a container for transformation.  Her amazing ability to listen deeply meant that I felt truly heard, and she challenged me exactly when I needed it most. This combination helped me evolve my goals, strategies and action plans, with a deep sense of accountability, not only to her but also to myself. I would not have been as successful in transitioning without Elise’s guidance. Our work together has been a priceless gift that will surely keep giving.”

Marisa Guber, Centre for Social Impact, to Nook Studios


“I want to say a huge thank you to Barb and Leadership Space for what has been and continues to be an amazing coaching experience. I started my leadership journey on my own, not sure if it was right for me. I now know that it is right – thanks to working with Barb I’ve just landed a new leadership role!”



Elise was a crucial part of helping me transition from the corporate world into establishing my own consulting business. Elise is both practical and visionary at the same time, helping me to articulate my vision and most importantly translate that into “what I should do TODAY” to progress it. I highly recommend Elise.

Cameron McLean, Founder & CEO, LinkWest Consulting

Some of our like-minded colleagues


We love to work with other organisations who put purpose before profit. Here are just a few of the organisations we work with regularly.

Good Foundations

Good Foundations help not-for-profit organisations create effective operational, financial and strategic platforms. Their team are practical and experienced, and like us, they put purpose before profit.


If you wish to find out more about Good Foundations, please visit

People for Purpose

People for Purpose support the search, placement and development of professionals in leadership and board positions who strive to create positive social impact.


If you wish to find out more about People for Purpose, please visit