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Dr. Tonya Ensign

Expert in Leadership, Wellbeing, and Change

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Brief Bio

Dr. Ensign has devoted her career to researching, teaching, and practicing leadership, wellbeing, and change. She has taught in higher ed since 2010, currently teaches courses in these subjects in the PhD in Global Leadership program at Indiana Institute of Technology and presents regularly at academic conferences.

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She also serves on the board of directors of nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and advises doctoral students across universities.


A large part of her career included eight years as a Fortune 100 executive and 25 years of hands-on business and entrepreneurial experience as an investor and/or operator in over a dozen start up and growth stage companies around the world. Three of these companies were acquired by multinational corporations.

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Dr. Ensign's research is inspired by years of deep engagements with leaders and their teams - and with her own followers. Her doctoral research introduced a new framework to better understand transformative change and she has expanded on these ideas over the years by conducting studies and authoring publications. She serves on the editorial staff of the Journal of Transformative Education and Co-chairs the Mezirow Award for the International Transformative Learning Conference.

Transformative learning is the process of questioning our mental models to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, and reflective; this questioning allows us to shift our perspectives

and generate new beliefs and opinions.

While working with boards, C-suite leaders, and managers, she noticed that organizations are only as healthy as the people in them and this realization brought her professional interests in leadership, transformative learning and change together with her expertise in nutrition, yoga, and wellbeing.

Dr. Ensign lives in a small mountain town on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. She owns and operates a boutique hotel with her adult children that offers a wellness destination for adventure, food, lodging and community experience. She loves to hike, paddle board, write articles & books, and tend to her organic urban farm.

"There are over 50 models for change. Transformative change  is unlike other types of change that may revert to earlier forms -
such changing a habit.
Transformative change is lasting, pervasive, and irreversible.
It's when a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly.
To revert to an earlier form would require another transformation."

~ Dr. Tonya Ensign

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Dr. Ensign holds undergraduate degrees in Finance and International Business, a master’s degree in Organizational Management, and a PhD in Global Leadership and Change. She approaches her work with an evidence-based, whole-person lens and is board certified in Health and Wellness. Additionally, she is a certified Personal & Executive Coach and a certified Positive Psychology & Wellbeing Coach. She has practiced and taught yoga (RYT-240) and has studied nutrition, breathwork, and mindfulness for 25 years. She brings this knowledge and these skills to her teaching and leadership and roles.


"When I learned that discomfort is an invitation to transform, I saw the world differently."

~ Dr. Tonya Ensign

Dr. Ensign is currently available for:

  • Executive Coaching for Doctoral Students

    • Qualitative methods

    • Subject matter expert in business, entrepreneurship, leadership, personal and organizational transformation and transformative change, and wellbeing

  • Research collaboration

Blue Surface

From Dr. Ensign's clients and colleagues...

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Remarkable real-world insight and ability to translate concepts into what works for people and businesses. The results that we’ve seen truly set Tonya apart from others.

- Managing Partner, Private Equity Firm (client)

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Tonya adds depth and quality to our Ph.D. doctoral level discourse by sharing examples from her extensive business experience. She shows leadership among her colleagues; produces high quality papers, projects and research presentations; develops close relationships; and demonstrates dedication, consistency, and perseverance. I give her my highest recommendation.

- Program Chair, Department of Doctoral Leadership Studies (colleague)

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I am continually impressed with Tonya's knowledge of organizational leadership, her ability to teach and coach, and her passion for learning and staying current in her field. She is truly an exceptional leader, coach, mother, and community member. I can promise you won’t be disappointed.

- CEO, Manufacturing Company (client)

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When Tonya taught in our program, her overwhelming competence in the subject matter made possible her full control over course creation and delivery. She has outstanding capability in executive coaching, emotional intelligence, leadership development, strategic planning, team building, development of organizational culture–the list goes on. Tonya will always finish what she starts. This is evident in her record of personal and professional achievement. Her biography is a story of success...and her record speaks for itself. Tonya's expertise, energy and attitude enriched the experience for all involved...She has my highest recommendation. I am confident she will soon gain yours.

- Former Dean, School of Business (colleague)

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As an HR professional for the last 28 years, I can say without a doubt that Dr. Ensign has helped me the most in my career growth with her expertise in executive coaching and organizational development skills. She is an outstanding motivator with a positive attitude and high ethics in the business world. This drives her to do her best in every project she handles with remarkable focus to achieve success.

- Manager, Corporate Human Resources Department (client)

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As a colleague of Dr. Ensign, I have seen her not only consistently exhibit a solid grasp of content and key issues in global leadership and change, she also demonstrates a commitment to excellence in academic writing, teaching, and presentation. She shows skill, understanding and application within each phase of her research. In addition, she brings strong executive business and real world global experience to the classroom and clearly communicates those experiences in ways that not only instruct, but also inspire students.

- Doctoral Professor, Organizational Leadership (colleague)

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