Who we are

The Bright Morning Story

Elena Aguilar began designing and facilitating professional development for educators in 2004. Following the publication of her first two books, and in response to the demand for her trainings from educators around the world, she founded Bright Morning Consulting in 2017.

Our Name

Anything can happen on a bright morning. The sun casts light on our paths, the crisp air rejuvenates our bodies, and the chirping of birds activates our hope. A bright morning is electric with potential. It invites us to envision the future we want to live in and then take action towards creating that reality.

What Our Community is Saying

"Not only have I met my goals to deepen my coaching practice, but I’ve adapted many of Aguilar’s tools as standards/ guides for how we do coaching as an organization. Bright Morning really sets the bar for a comprehensive model for coaching teachers or really any role."

Molly D.
What Our Community is Saying

“Elena and her team’s involvement in the development of our coaching program and training of our instructional coaching staff has been paramount to the success that we have seen and will continue to see. Working with them has been one of the best decisions we’ve made.”

Christina Wildhagen
What Our Community is Saying

“The thoughtfulness, flexibility, and depth of Bright Morning’s training complemented the thoroughness of Elena’s book. I deeply respect the compassion of their work and highly value the tools they have shared with me and my colleagues. We are better equipped to nurture, inspire, and patiently transform the schools we love.”

Aubrey Caldwell
What Our Community is Saying

“Words cannot describe the impact Elena, her team and their program has had on myself, my clients and our classrooms across our region and the Teach for America organization as a whole. I am very excited to keep on practicing and getting better!”

Adam Morales

Our Approach

Change requires learning

Our schools must be transformed in order to become equitable places of learning. This requires learning, and unlearning, on the part of adults leading in schools. We focus on transforming the process and experience of learning for adults as the key lever for transforming schools. If we, the adults, learn to learn more effectively, then we can change our schools. If leaders and coaches learn to facilitate transformational, effective learning, then we can change our schools.

Change starts with the individual

We start with the smallest unit, the individual. We offer tools to make an individual’s experience transformational first, and then focus on the group. We support groups of adults to learn together, acquire skills to build effective teams, and improve organizational learning conditions. Our work toggles back and forth between group dynamics and an individual’s leadership. When teams reimagine their own way of operating, it opens the door to reimagining entire systems.

Change requires resilience and equity

Both are necessary foundations for transformation, and often neglected in conversations about school transformation. We know that the work of equity cannot be done without an understanding and acceptance of emotions; we recognize that we need resilience to do the work of equity.

Learning Principles

Our trainings are guided by these beliefs

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Safety is essential for learning.

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A problem-centered orientation facilitates deepest learning.

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Participants need practice.

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Learning is a path for individual and collective liberation.

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Learners are the experts on themselves and their context.

The Bright Morning Team

Elena Aguilar

Founder and CEO
(she/her)

Elena Aguilar

(she/her)

Founder and CEO

Elena Aguilar is a writer, leader, teacher, coach and podcaster. She is the author of eight highly acclaimed books: The Art of Coaching (2013), The Art of Coaching Teams (2016), Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators (2018), The Onward Workbook (2018), Coaching for Equity (2020), The Art of Coaching Workbook (2020), The PD Book: 7 Habits that Transform Professional Development (2022), and the forthcoming Arise: The Art of Transformational Coaching (July 2024). She has also been a frequent contributor to Edutopia, ASCD’s Educational Leadership, and EdWeek Teacher. Elena is the founder and CEO of Bright Morning Consulting, an organization committed to helping individuals and organizations create the conditions for transformation. She has taught tens of thousands of folks how to have conversations that build a more just and equitable world. Elena can be heard demonstrating these conversations on The Bright Morning Podcast.


Elena is also the co-founder of Kenya Big Picture Learning, she’s on the advisory board of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and she is a certified mindfulness meditation teacher. She lives in Oakland, CA, with her husband, son, and two cats. When she’s not coaching or writing, she enjoys traveling abroad, photographing birds, hiking, drinking cacao, and reading fiction.

Becky Barstein

Lead Presenter
(she/her)

Becky Barstein

(she/her)

Lead Presenter

Becky has worked at the intersection of education, technology, and equity since 2011. She previously taught grades K-4 in Houston, TX, while also leading and coaching teams of new and veteran teachers. During this time, she also developed and facilitated school-, district-, and network-wide professional development focused on elementary literacy, dismantling white supremacy culture, and social-emotional learning for students and adults. 

Becky resides in the land of the Massachusetts and Pawtucket peoples (Boston, MA). She cultivates her resilience through exercise with friends, time outdoors (in the sun, if possible), and family game nights.

LesLee Bickford

President
(she/her)

LesLee Bickford

(she/her)

President

LesLee honed her design, strategy, and consulting skills in education and nonprofits. She began her career teaching and coaching in Philadelphia public schools before relocating to the Midwest and moving from working within the public school system to partnering with educators and the staff members who support them. Since 2003 she has led teams and imagined, designed, and executed learning experiences for individuals and groups in school, nonprofit and for-profit settings.

LesLee was trained by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey as a facilitator of the Immunity to Change coaching method, has completed Cognitive Coaching training, is an ICF-certified coach, and was trained and certified in The Art of Coaching. 

LesLee’s home base is in the land of the Dakota and Anishinaabe (Minneapolis, MN). She cultivates her resilience spending time with her kids, walking her dogs, and spending time near the ocean.

Nita Creekmore

Presenter
(she/her)

Nita Creekmore

(she/her)

Presenter

Nita Creekmore has been in education since 2002. She taught in grades 1, 2, and 5 for 13 years before becoming an Elementary School Instructional Coach. Nita obtained her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education in 2002 from the University of South Carolina and her Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership in 2013 from the University of Virginia. 

Nita believes in holding inclusive spaces on the journey of equity for all—especially for folks from marginalized and oppressed groups. 

Nita lives in the land of the Muscogee Creek/Cherokee (Loganville, GA). She cultivates her resilience by practicing yoga, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing with a good book.

Stacey Goodman

Co-Founder
(he/him)

Stacey Goodman

(he/him)

Co-Founder

Stacey brings an invaluable blend of years of working in schools and in the private sector to our team. Having worked in internet companies in Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s, he has a keen understanding of how small businesses thrive. Following his adventures with start-ups, Stacey taught in independent schools in the San Francisco Bay Area for 18 years which gave him a deep appreciation for the learning needs of educators in private schools.

Stacey is also a professional artist and brings an eye for aesthetics and design to Bright Morning. He and Elena are happily married. 

He resides in the land of the Ohlone (Oakland, CA) and cultivates his resilience through art, music, and exercise.

Jess Levasseur

Community Expansion
(she/her)

Jess Levasseur

(she/her)

Community Expansion

Jess has worked in education since 2011. She launched her career in education as an early elementary teacher for eight years, four of which included being part of a team that was founding a new elementary school. She transitioned from the classroom into education tech and then served as the Director of Equity and Leadership Programming for a San Diego-based education nonprofit, where she led professional development opportunities and coached first- and second-year teachers.

Jess is passionate about creating more equitable schools by directly supporting the adults who influence students, families, and communities. 

Jess resides in the land of the Kumeyaay (San Diego, CA) and cultivates her resilience with dog snuggles, creating arts and crafts, and throwing theme parties. 

Jennifer Liu

Operations
(she/her)

Jennifer Liu

(she/her)

Operations

Jennifer has developed expertise in customer experience and creative operations in organizations and education since 2008. She discovered her love for program development while managing and developing volunteers in the museum industry. Most recently, she managed strategic communications and team development for a K-12 independent school in Georgia. 

Jennifer is dedicated to the learning and growth of others as part of her deep quest to contribute to a more compassionate and just society for all. 

Jennifer resides in the land of the Muscogee (Atlanta, Georgia). She cultivates her resilience by making a cup of coffee, creative floral design, and writing cards to loved ones.

Cary Meyers

Partnerships and Accounts
(she/her)

Cary Meyers

(she/her)

Partnerships and Accounts

Cary has worked in education and nonprofits since 2013. She started her career in education with City Year Miami and then became a classroom teacher in Denver, where she taught kindergarten, first, and third grade. Most recently, her work has focused on operations and systems development in nonprofit organizations. 

Cary strives to build systems and processes that create more inclusive and equitable workplaces. 

Cary resides in the land of the Monongahela (Pittsburgh, PA). She cultivates her resilience by knitting, organizing, and spending time with loved ones.

Antoinette Strain

People and Projects
(she/her)

Antoinette Strain

(she/her)

People and Projects

Antoinette has worked in education since 2011. Over her career, she has worked as a middle school math and science teacher, school operations manager, instructional and culture coach, and dean of students. 

She enjoys imagining and cultivating environments that honor community values and embrace restorative and anti-racist practices. 

Antoinette resides in the land of the Dakota and Anishinaabe (Minneapolis, MN). She cultivates her resilience by tending to her garden, cooking new recipes, and taking trail walks with family.

Nyesha Trusty

Community Engagement
(she/her)

Nyesha Trusty

(she/her)

Community Engagement

Nye has led classrooms and coached cohorts of teachers throughout Maryland, Louisiana, and Texas since the start of her career in 2013. Her consulting skills have helped notable education-based nonprofits deepen their impact by cultivating communities of belonging, learning, and service; these practices are the cornerstone of her work at Bright Morning.

Nye believes that revolution lives at the intersection of radical imagination and ancestral knowing. This belief guides all of her work endeavors. 

Nye resides in the land of the Coahuiltecan (Houston, TX). She cultivates her resilience through yoga, bike rides, and long philosophical chats with her wife.

In Residence

In addition to lending us their talents, our “in residence” team members also have professional lives outside of Bright Morning.

Jocelyn Fabello

Office Manager

(she/her)

Jocelyn Fabello

(she/her)

Office Manager

Jocelyn has worked with independent filmmakers, small business owners, and educational consultants for 20 years. Her work with artists and educators informs her current work as a financial and human resources manager to small businesses and creative entrepreneurs and deepens her dedication to storytelling and conversation as pathways to awareness, community, equity, and social justice.

Jocelyn brings a creative and thoughtful approach to supporting creative people and thoughtful businesses and loves being immersed in the details that make the big picture possible.

Jocelyn resides in the ​​land of the Lisjan Ohlone. She cultivates her resilience by concocting magical elixirs, watching sci-fi., and Tai Chi.

Nick Cains

Presenter

(he/him)

Nick Cains

(he/him)

Presenter

Nick is a human catalyst passionate about empowering teachers and supporting them to lead the charge in educational equity. He coaches district instructional coaching staff and teacher leaders while supporting Tulsa Public Schools as a Director of Content and Coaching.

Nick has had various roles in education, starting as a 2nd grade teacher in Tulsa, where his passion for education was ignited. From there, he has supported educators while working at multiple national education non-profits. 

Nick lives in the land of Muscogee Creek (Tulsa, Ok). He cultivates his resilience through crossfit, hugs, and performing.

Carol Owala

Senior Associate, based in Nairobi, Kenya

(she/her)

Carol Owala

(she/her)

Senior Associate, based in Nairobi, Kenya

Carol has been a teacher, school leader, instructional and leadership coach, and a manager of coaches, and she now leads Kenya Big Picture Learning, a Big Picture Learning project.

Carol has extensive experience working with students, teachers, and school leaders in marginalized communities. She has presented at our Art of Coaching Conferences, and with Elena, she co-directs our immersive learning exchange, Ustahimilivu Dadas. Carol is available to present our workshops anywhere in Africa and consult with schools and organizational leaders about building a coaching program. 

Carol lives in the land of the Enkare Nyrobi' maasai (Nairobi, Kenya). She cultivates her resilience through sewing and design, music and dancing, and reading.

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