Compassionate Leader, LLC, was founded by Wendy Saunders.  Wendy has studied mindfulness and compassion intensively since 2012 and has actively integrated these concepts into leadership development and workplace training curriculum for a number of years with the largest non-profit organization in the United States (the YMCA), as well as with other companies and groups.  She is a Certified Teacher for Emory University’s Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT®) program, which was designed to cultivate mindfulness, self-compassion, empathy, gratitude, interconnectedness, and compassion for others in course participants (see below).  Wendy has taught this program to executives, team leaders, educators, healthcare and other corporate leaders, and to their staff.  She has also taught CBCT courses for community members of all ages.

Wendy is also a seasoned executive, having begun her career with the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles more than 20 years ago and serving as an Executive Director responsible for hundreds of employees and operating multiple facilities and a merger before transitioning into a senior Leadership Development role in 2014 with YMCA of the USA, a $7B organization with over 2,000 locations nationally.  She has worked with CEOs, COOs, executives and other leaders across the U.S. and internationally providing executive development institutes, leadership symposia, and other leadership development and mindfulness courses, programs, workshops, and coaching. Wendy facilitates executive and leadership workshops and retreats on various talent-development topics, including, but not limited to:

    • positive leadership
    • developing engaged, high-performance teams
    • cultivating mindfulness
    • leading with compassion
    • self-compassion
    • empathy
    • emotional intelligence
    • implicit bias, diversity, inclusion, and equity
    • intercultural competence (Wendy is a Qualified Administrator of the IDI Assessment)
    • leadership coaching
    • leading change
    • critical thinking and thought leadership
    • organizational culture change

Wendy also introduces and helps to embed mindfulness and trauma-informed care practices in K-12 educational, afterschool, and camp settings, working directly with young people and also facilitating sessions with teachers, child care and camp staff, and directors and administrators to help equip them to reinforce these concepts with the youth day-to-day and establish a compassionate classroom culture.

She has worked with executives, leaders, and employees of non-profit and for-profit organizations, with teachers and child care staff, with healthcare workers, and with adults, youth, teens, and families in the community.  Clients include: YMCA of the USA, YMCA of Greater Houston, Gateway Region YMCA, YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, Colaluca & Associates, Inc., Alpine Learning Group, Inc., Northwest Alliance of YMCAs, Olympic Peninsula YMCA, YMCA of Central New York, and others.  She also provides customized individual and small group in-person, phone, and virtual coaching, educational sessions, and guided meditation sessions.

Wendy holds an Executive Master’s degree in Positive Leadership & Strategy from IE University in Madrid.  During her coursework, she completed Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training (MBSAT) developed by Dr. Juan Humberto Young (learn about MBSAT here), and also studied the Mindfulness & Character Strengths curriculum developed by Ryan M. Niemiec, PhD, PsyD.  As part of her graduate research, she examined approaches for creating and embedding an organizational culture of mindfulness and compassion in workplaces, and subsequently conducted a multi-phased project with a large non-profit organization ($140M operating budget and 4,500 employees), which involved a cultural assessment around mindfulness and compassion-related workplace behaviors, a series of introductory mindfulness workshops for all leadership staff, Leading With Compassion executive and staff retreat sessions, and follow-up recommendations for continued cultural shifts.  She has also studied and provided coaching related to compassionate corporate reorganizations.

Wendy facilitates CBCT® courses, as well as formal training, workshops, retreats, keynotes and talks, and is available for coaching and consulting.  Virtual offerings are available and preferred to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Wendy also invites specific project work related to assessing and integrating mindfulness and compassion in organizational and corporate cultures, educational systems, healthcare settings, member offerings, and reorganization efforts.

Wendy can be reached at


CBCT was developed by Emory University in Atlanta, GA in 2005 to help people progressively cultivate mindfulness and other-centered thoughts and behaviors while improving their own health, well-being, and feelings of connectedness with others. The promising results have attracted the attention of leaders in various sectors, including education, medicine, and business. To date, thousands of business and medical professionals, community leaders, educators, parents, college students, youth and teens have been trained in the cultivation of compassion. Major universities, including Emory University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have conducted scientific studies on this program and found that CBCT can reduce neuroendocrine, inflammatory, and behavioral responses to stress, and increase resilience, empathy, and compassion for others. This program also helps participants cultivate self-awareness and other-centered thoughts and behaviors while increasing overall well-being. Learn more about this transformative program by clicking here.

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