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Meet Dr. Ensign & Explore Transformation Like Never Before

Welcome to the Transformative Learning Center

Transformation is all around us. It spans geography, time, cultures, religions, and disciplines. In biology, it refers to metamorphosis during an organism’s life cycle (for example, caterpillar to butterfly). In political science, it may be a regime change; a country ravaged by war will forever be transformed. Transformation can also be personal.

At times, certain events occur in our lives where our current mental model—the scaffolding of meaning schemes and habits of mind through which we perceive reality—cannot make sense of the event. When these events do not fit our current thought paradigm, we may become disoriented. These situations offer a choice: to transform our perspective or remain unchanged. When we revise our mental model to make new meaning of our experience, we are transforming our perspective. This is a special type of learning called transformative learning.

Transformative learning does not always take place, and neither does it take place automatically. Like a seed, disorientation simply provides an invitation to sprout and grow. Transformation of meaning schemes involves a thorough and dramatic change in our worldview that is significant, pervasive, and irreversible. During this process, our values, beliefs, and assumptions change, so we change. For example, we may behave differently or adopt a new worldview or self-view.

The word transformation is overused and misunderstood. All transformation is change, but not all change is transformative. Transformative change has distinct features that differentiate it from other types of change, such as changing a habit. When we change a habit, we may revert to our old ways. For example, a New Year’s resolution to exercise may dissolve by springtime. In contrast, a butterfly cannot revert to being a caterpillar. The transformational change that took place during metamorphosis demonstrates the distinct features of transformational change as compared to other types of change.

About Me

Hi! I'm Tonya, and I'm passionate about helping people understand the true meaning of the word transformation and experiencing true transformation. This word is so often overused and misunderstood. We're bombarded with messages to try a new diet that will transform our lives or enroll in a program that promises transformation. True transformation in adulthood is actually quite rare.

Did you know there are over 50 theoretical models for change? My PhD is in Global Leadership and Change and during my doctorate work I was drawn to the research on change, which caused me to focus my own research on a special type of change: transformative change. I discovered there is about 50 years of research on the science of personal transformation.

For over 20 years I had been working with leaders in deep, multiyear engagements involving transformational change in global companies where I was an executive coach and consultant. My doctorate program gave me a deep dive into the research behind what I had been doing in practice for my whole career: fostering transformative change.

As an entrepreneur and part-time business professor, I now specialize in the phenomenon of personal transformation contexts such as business, career, study abroad, wellbeing, and longevity. I do this by teaching in the PhD in Global Leadership program at Indiana Institute of Technology and as a visiting professor at other universities; by supervising doctoral dissertation research and providing executive coaching to doctoral students during their dissertation phase; and by speaking, writing, and publishing my work.

Along the way, I became a health and longevity nut. I noticed that organizations were only as healthy as their leaders, and so I began to gain knowledge and certifications in wellness areas. I blended my passion for Yoga, nutrition, and mindfulness with my leadership and business consulting programs and courses to share this knowledge with my clients and students. Wellness continues to be the "red thread" of all my work.

In 2015, I founded the TLC to make the science of transformation accessible to everyone. The TLC houses my research and publications, which advance transformative learning theory, apply transformative learning to practitioner contexts, and provide the theoretical foundation for leadership curriculum. Here, I also translate other scholars' research into everyday language.

As far as my credentials, I hold undergraduate degrees in Finance and International Business, a master’s degree in Organizational Management, and a PhD in Global Leadership and Change as well as three coaching certifications in Personal and Executive Coaching, Health and Wellness Coaching, and Positive Psychology Coaching. I have completed Stanford's Nutrition Science program and I am a registered Yoga teacher (RYT-240 hours).

My website provides a way to work with me and access resources related to my work. I hope to hear from can email me anytime:

I feel lucky to live in a small town in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where I can hike the Colorado Trail with my dogs, tend to my urban farm, and spend time with my adult kids running our family-owned boutique hotel. If you're ever in Durango, I hope you reach out!


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