Our Team


John Baird, Ph.D., Chairman

John is considered to be one of the premier executive coaches in Silicon Valley, having coached CEOs and Founders for over 25 years. John built his career working with the top leaders at companies ranging from early stage start-ups to Fortune 500 firms like Apple and Nike. His first company ExecutivEdge (with Michele Bolton) in many ways set the standard for executive coaching in Silicon Valley over 20 years ago. He considers his 25 years of coaching work at Apple, from their fast growth period to the present, to be among his most significant achievements.

John’s passion for bringing strong leadership and culture building skills to early stage ventures resulted in the founding of the Velocity Group in 2015 (with Ben Tauber). John is currently the Senior Partner and Board Chair at Velocity. He and Managing Partner Edward Sullivan have positioned Velocity as the “go to” coaching firm for early stage companies beginning to scale. They have worked with companies at various stages of growth including Marketo, Krux, AirTable, Clover Health, CultureAmp, Doordash, Grail, MasterClass, Remitly, and many others. Most recently, John serves as a Fellow at Sapphire Ventures.

John brings a strong business perspective to his work, helping leaders leverage their natural talents and expand their skill sets to the next level. John is passionate about innovation and change and helps leaders scale and transform their teams and organizations while building cultures of inclusion and diversity. CEOs have found his advice, counsel and practical tools critical to scaling their companies and avoiding many of the pitfalls along the way.

John holds a PhD in Organizational Communication and Leadership from Purdue University. He spent 17 years on the faculty at San Jose State University in the College of Business and was named Outstanding Professor of the entire University during his time there.


Edward Sullivan, Managing Partner & CEO

Edward Sullivan’s 20-year career has taken him around the globe coaching and advising start-up founders, Fortune 500 executives, and heads of state of foreign nations on 6 continents. His client list includes executives from Foundation Capital, Google, RetailNext, Slack, and many others. He has also served in senior positions at various early and mid-stage start-ups.

Edward is currently part of the career development and leadership skills training team at The Wharton School. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School.

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Ben Tauber, Founding Partner

Ben Tauber is Founding Partner and Board member of Velocity Group. Ben specializes in leadership and performance-optimization coaching. He takes a full-spectrum approach - dialing everything from management style, to mental ability, to exercise and sleep. Ben brings over a decade of leadership experience to his work. Most recently he was CEO of Esalen, the first research and retreat center dedicated to the exploration of human potential. Ben spent his early career as an operator, holding roles that included co-founder/COO of Scoopler (acquired by Google), Product Manager for Google Chat, and Engineer Lead, Adobe Acrobat Connect.

Ben’s work bridges between the qualitative and the quantitative. This work includes developing the first study in partnership with Carol Dweck of Stanford, on the impact of Growth Mindset on the success of startup founders. Ben holds a computer science degree from UC San Diego.


Marissa Peterson, Executive Coach

Marissa’s founder and executive coaching practice has thrived due to her extraordinary focus on delivering excellence and accelerated business value to clients. Her diagnostic insights, range and depth of coaching approaches, practical first-hand leadership experience, and working to the full context of the business are differentiating characteristics. Marissa has coached executives at Apple, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, EBay and Stanford Hospital.

Marissa Peterson brings a broad senior executive portfolio to her board and executive coaching practice. She joined Sun Microsystems when it was still a small public company, helping it scale to reach a peak of approx. $20 Billion in annual revenues. Most recent positions held were as Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations, EVP of Global Services, and Chief Customer Advocate. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Honorary Doctorate of Management from Kettering University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Susan Hwang, Executive Coach

Susan has worked closely with senior executives across technology and financial services for more than 15 years. Her engagements with leaders at both large firms and startups benefit from her background in behavioral psychology and practical business acumen.

Susan leverages years of executive experience helping grow SNL Financial, a SAAS data platform, into a thriving multi-national. Susan is currently an investor and adviser to a number of startups in varied industries and a Director at the Alliance of CEOs. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar, and a Master's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus on positive organizational leadership and behavioral science.

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Phil Boissiere, Executive Coach

Phil Boissiere is an accomplished executive coach, cognitive performance expert, and Silicon Valley entrepreneur.  He brings his zest for life and professionalism to all aspects of his work. He has helped leaders excel with purpose and passion in high pressured environments ranging from Google, Facebook, Apple, and Airbnb to cutting edge start ups in the crypto space and Olympic athletes.

Phil believes that when motivated people are given the tools to succeed they will reach their goals and live a life that is rich with meaning. He harnesses a deep understanding of psychology, interpersonal dynamics, and neurology to help his clients reach optimal performance. Phil works to help clients understand why an approach works rather than just sending them off blindly with tools in hand.

Phil has been a featured expert on major media outlets such as PBSABC News, and Good Morning AmericaHis work has also presented at Northwestern UniversityUniversity of San FranciscoTEDx, CreativeLiveAccenture, and the Summit Institute to name a few.

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Marie Myrberg, Executive Coach

Marie is an Executive Coach and Leadership Trainer based in Europe with a focus on delivering highly interactive, virtual sessions. She is a former People Operations and Communications executive with 15+ years of experience working for international high-tech and health care companies. Marie consults with companies in Cambridge (UK), Silicon Valley and Berlin to evolve their management and organizational development. 

Her style is results-oriented and inspiring, and she is skilled at developing leader's effectiveness and impact, through increased self-awareness and bringing value to what matters most to her clients. Marie has global experience having coached and conducted numerous leadership trainings, manager assimilations, team integration sessions and off-sites for companies across the U.S., India, England, Germany, Sweden and France.

Marie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from University of San Diego and an MBA in Global Management from University of Phoenix. She is a certified professional Co-Active coach (CPCC) by the Coaching and Training Institute (CTI), an accredited Mind Gym coach, certified web-ex trainer and experienced in delivering 360-degree feedback evaluations, DiSC and Myers Briggs personality tests. She is also a certified public speaker by Toastmasters International.

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Gitta Sivander, Public Speaking and Presentation Coach

Since 2008, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and presenters around the globe have delivered masterful, authentic and impactful messages after Gitta Sivander’s coaching. Whether in a one-to-one setting or speaking at conferences in front of large audiences, Gitta’s clients experience how changes to their non-verbal communication profoundly impact their listeners. Having lived and coached in Germany, California, Sydney, Paris and Rome, Gitta’s international and quattra-lingual background brings cultural diversity and a global mindset.

Gitta’s clients include Twitter, Industry Rockstar, Zest Fresh, Environics Analytics, as well as entrepreneurs and TED presenters in the US, Europe, Australia and Asia. Degrees and Certificates include CLMA-Certified Laban Movement Analyst, SMT-Somatic Movement Therapy, Physical Therapy (University Goettingen, Germany) and she is currently adding an executive coaching certification. 


Joan Dauria, Executive Coach

Joan has over 20 years of human resources management and coaching experience at companies including Apple, Disney, Genentech, Rodan+Fields, Salesforce, and Williams-Sonoma. She provides coaching to founders and executives seeking to play a more impactful and valued role in their businesses. Her practice draws from a broad-based background in leading organizations through fast, dynamic growth and transformation and from building business-oriented, high-impact human resource organizations.

Joan works one-on-one with senior executives or with their teams to help them gain a new level of insight and self awareness through assessments and feedback about how their behaviors may impede their effectiveness. Joan is a graduate of Rhode Island College with a dual major in Education and Psychology.


Lucy Georgiades, Executive Coach

Lucy is an Executive Coach working with individuals and teams in high growth companies to help them be productive, work through challenges, communicate effectively, achieve their goals and lead their people. Lucy has coached executives at Eventbrite, Medium, Quid, Box, SideCar, Vicarious and Zesty. She also coaches C-level executives in large corporations including Flextronics, and for the Wharton Executive MBA Program.

Lucy is an Oxford University graduate with a Bachelors and a Masters in Experimental Psychology. She has diplomas with distinction in Corporate & Executive Coaching and Personal Performance Coaching from The Coaching Academy, U.K. She is also an accredited Mind Gym coach.

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Silvia Christmann, Executive Coach

Silvia was born in Germany and raised across Europe before establishing her life in New York City. In her early career, she specialized in business development and helped build successful companies from pre-revenue to their first million and beyond. Now, she focuses on structuring businesses and transforming leaders during periods of rapid scale. Before starting her boutique practice in 2011, she played a central role in launching the startup venture MediaRadar. Under her tenure, the company developed into an ad tech leader with more than $20 million in revenue.

She has worked with with impact-driven leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs as well as C-level executives who work at companies like Google, Bridgewater, PWC, Deutsch, Tom’s Shoes, among many others, and has helped scale companies like The Bond Collective (US), Look at Media (RU), and Sapina Ltd (APAC). She has given talks and taught workshops and seminars at numerous global conferences, at Columbia University, and at Fortune 100 companies.


Vivian Groman, Executive Coach

Vivian brings 25 years of finance and technology leadership experience to her coaching work with senior and high potential emerging leaders across a broad range of industries.   Whether building the confidence and relational sophistication of rising leaders or supporting C-suite visionaries to broaden and deepen their long-term impact, Vivian helps her clients demonstrate visible, sustainable changes in their leadership effectiveness. 

Vivian also draws on her personal experience leading organizations,  aligning  diverse groups around shared goals, and developing team leadership skills individually, as well as collectively. Clients say her work gets to what really counts, stands the test of time, and is refreshingly honest, but kind. Prior to starting her coaching practice in 2004, Vivian was the Senior Vice President of Client Relationship Management at Charles Schwab for 12 years. She has as business degree from the University of California, Berkeley and is certified Integral Coach® and Somatic Coach.


Gilly Weinstein, Executive Coach

Gilly has coached across cultures, countries and industries since 2005, supporting clients in making choices that create more emotionally intelligent leadership and a more balanced and fulfilling life. Gilly has lived and coached, in French and English, in several countries. She brings her international and multilingual background and sensitivity to coaching across cultural divides, especially within organizations boasting diverse cultures and mindsets.

Gilly has coached C-suite executives and teams at Air France, Amnesty International, Coca-Cola, Disney, Hilton Hotels, LEGO, NY Public Radio, SalesForce, SWIFT and Unilever as well as Directors in the public sector, within the main European Institutions

A professional certified Coactive Coach, and PCC since 2009, Gilly holds an Masters in Communications from Boston University and a BA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Katy Kvalvik, Executive Coach

Katy  has been inspiring leaders, executives, and entrepreneurs all over the world to be empowered, lead their best lives, and achieve optimal results since 2009. The CEO and Founder of the Performance Empowerment Group, Katy is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and she is a certified executive coach, board certified health counselor, certified trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, certified yoga instructor, and business mentor.

Katy is an expert in leadership development, advanced communication skills for high stake conversations and presentations, influence and negotiation, and integrative health, specifically stress reduction, gut health, and all day energy.  She has spoken at conferences like Wisdom 2.0, the Hive Global Leadership Conference, NAIFA Sales Conference and the Wanderlust Festival circuit. She has worked with companies such as Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Sony, American Express, Beach Body, Singularity University, Best Friend's Animal Society, United Nations, Draper University, Thrivent Financial, Verisign, Entefy and tech start-ups like VideoAmp, Pivot Bio, and MediGram to name a few. 



Lauren Detro, Executive Coach

Lauren has over nine years of combined experience as an executive coach, operator in VC, and therapist. Her broad experience in clinical therapy and venture capital positions her uniquely to support founders, executives, and co-founder teams. Lauren takes a personalized and pragmatic approach with each of her clients; whether it’s promoting greater well-being and productivity or working together through crisis, she helps leaders uncover insights and develop skills to grow and scale healthy organizations. Her areas of expertise include leadership development, interpersonal communication, co-founder relationships, women in leadership, burnout, and stress & anxiety.

Lauren has a Bachelor’s from UC Santa Barbara and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University.

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Elizabeth Kurfess, Executive Coach

As an Executive Coach and Consultant, Elizabeth combines her business acumen and passion for people, to ignite transformational change through real communication for teams and individuals. 

Elizabeth has delivered deliberate culture development, women’s leadership, team collaboration and leadership development programs, and executive coaching across multiple functions and industries for start-ups, middle market businesses, and large global companies.

Prior to coaching and consulting, Elizabeth worked for GE in a variety of global leadership roles in marketing, product management, operations and sales throughout many GE businesses, including Energy, Capital, Ventures, Appliances, and Corporate.   

Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Arts and an MBA and is an Associate Certified Coach, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Certified Leadership Circle and MBTI practitioner, and leverages CliftonStrengths and the neuroscience of human development and brain-based coaching tools.

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Maggie Adams, Executive Assistant & Account Manager

Maggie joined Velocity Group in August 2017, and provides administrative and operational support to Velocity's clients and coaches. She enjoys running Velocity's day-to-day activities, serving as a friendly face for clients and coaches, and helping out wherever she is needed! Maggie's passion project is teaching business, social, and dining etiquette. She has taught etiquette workshops across the country, most notably partnering with The Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC.

Maggie graduated with a BBA from Saint Mary’s College in 2007. She completed her etiquette training at the Institut Villa Pierrefeu Finishing School in Glion, Switzerland where she received certificates in The European Art of Dining and International Etiquette and Protocol. She received an Etiquette Consultant Certificate from IAP Career College and is currently a member of the International Association of Professional Etiquette Consultants.