People fascinate me. I love helping people to learn, and it’s tremendously rewarding to see them unlocking their capabilities. We’re all learning every day, and I’ve found that small adjustments often make big differences in how effectively people learn–and that little shifts often have far-reaching effects in joy and satisfaction as well.
I’m interested in the ways we can use the tools of instructional design, business process management, systems thinking, and organizational change to help people be more successful in their lives. I’ve done a lot of work helping organizations to solve problems and develop excellence, and I really enjoy helping to elicit great performance. I take great pleasure in finding and building simple, clever solutions that draw out people’s best and help them love what they’re doing.
As a consultant, I specialize in helping people to solve difficult, thorny, complex problems, and I thrive on wading into the tough stuff. I love it when I can help people make their work more efficient, effective, and enjoyable, and I love collaborating on systems design. I’m based in Burlington, VT, but I’m also happy to work remotely for the right clients. Send your inquiry to my last name at holliseaster.com — I’m looking forward to talking with you!
I moved to Vermont in 2015 to work as the Business Process Manager for the Vermont Secretary of State‘s Office of Professional Regulation. While at OPR, I led the systematic analysis, documentation, and improvement of more than 70 business processes touching every area of professional licensure, enforcement, and discipline. I also worked as process lead on a multi-million dollar technology acquisition and collaborated on procurement and policy issues throughout the agency. I led an agency-wide shift toward agile practices in our process design, and I served as Scrum Master on several teams.
Farther back, I worked as the Hotline Director at Reachout of St. Lawrence County, Inc., a non-profit crisis hotline based in Potsdam, NY up near the Canadian border. Since moving to Vermont, I’ve shifted to a consulting role at Reachout (mostly training, IT, and process management), but I’ve worked there in one capacity or another since 1993. I like staying connected to the nonprofit world, and Reachout definitely supports my mission of making the world a better place!
The National Association of Crisis Organization Directors honored me with its Making The Mission Award in 2014, an award that had only been given twice before. They cited my writing and my work supporting hotline directors, saying both that I helped make our field accessible to lots of new people and that I strengthened the national network of hotlines through articles, training, and back-channel peer support. I can’t think of any award I’m more proud to have received, and I’m so grateful for the recognition of my peers. Thanks, friends!
I served for four years on the national board of Contact USA, where I wrote the national standards for core competencies in crisis center workers, helped redesign accreditation systems, and organized several national conferences. I’ve also given presentations at national conferences for the Alliance of Information and Referral Services, Convening, and the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors.
I do a lot of work on suicide intervention, prevention, and postvention. I’m a Master Trainer for LivingWorks‘s ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and safeTALK curricula, and I also teach QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), suicideTALK, NAMI Connect, and New York’s Disaster Mental Health curricula. I was a founding member of New York’s SIST Coalition (Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and served on its statewide board for four years, during which I organized three of the annual training conferences and served as lead instructor for them. I’ve written many grants for suicide-related programming and have consulted on developing a bunch of targeted suicide intervention training programs. In 2012, the NYS Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Center of NY honored me with their Excellence in Suicide Prevention Award.
I earned a Master’s degree in instructional design and technology in 2011, with an additional specialization in training and performance improvement. I focused primarily on adult learning and performance improvement, which (in instructional design land) means “training—plus the stuff we do when training isn’t the solution we need”. I was the 2011 winner of the national NSU Award for Outstanding Practice by a Graduate Student of Instructional Design from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, based on my work developing training programs about the laws for involuntary hospitalization of the mentally ill in New York.
In every area of my work, I focus on empowerment. To me, success means more than just solving today’s problem–it means continually helping clients to grow, building their skill sets so they can diagnose problems more rigorously and solve them more effectively. I prefer business partnerships based on mutual appreciation and trust, and I find that building empowerment in clients facilitates that. This approach is a big part of my business coaching practice.
As an example of the empowerment mission, check out Epic Skill Swap, a skill-sharing organization I helped found. ESS believes that everyone has valuable skills to share, and that the world is a better place when we help people teach what they know. I’ve been an organizer in several roles, and I’ve also taught workshops on topics ranging from engineering effective performance through how to sharpen kitchen knives using ceramic mugs.
When I’m not doing consulting work, you’ll often find me playing music: bagpipes, flute, whistle, guitar, mandolin, and voice. I mostly play Scottish and Irish music for contra dances, but I’ve spent time in musical theater, opera, orchestral music, and choral performance. I wrote my undergraduate music thesis on Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem Mass, and retain a fondness for its lush harmony. I lived in Glasgow, Scotland from 2003-2004, working and teaching at the National Piping Centre on a Watson Fellowship, and I spent a lot of time performing with the Lomond & Clyde Pipe Band, leading the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland on several international tours, and playing with Carlos Nuñez and the Chieftains. I earned dual bachelor’s degrees in computer science and music at Swarthmore, which probably explains something about my interests.
On weekends, I tour and play gigs with Frost and Fire (check out Midwinter Spring, our album), and I maintain a private teaching studio. I’ve been an instructor several times for the Pipers’ Gathering, and I love working to help musicians play with less pain, greater ease, and more joy.
I love helping other people to create and achieve their best work, and I love working with complex questions. I look forward to talking with you!
— Hollis Easter
my last name at holliseaster.com