About Barbara McAllister


Thrive Coaching & Consulting

Principal- Barb McAllister

Barb McAllister was a supervisor, manager and director at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 26 years. She held increasingly responsible management and leadership positions in two regional offices as well as Headquarters. When she retired, she was Director of Air Quality for the Northwest. One of her most interesting assignments in government was Director, Office for Innovation. She enjoys hiking, yoga and meditation.

Since 2004, Barb has worked as an independent coach, consultant, and trainer. Coaching is the cornerstone of Barb’s practice, Thrive Coaching & Consulting. Barb excels in coaching stuck clients. She is a coach’s coach, and also specializes in coaching managers and leaders in government, women in transition, and individuals navigating change and adversity. Some of her newest offerings include a webinar for coaches, “How to Get Your Stuck Clients Unstuck,” that she co-leads with her partner Donna Zajonc.; mind/body/spirit retreats in beautiful locations which combine coaching with skiing, hiking and yoga; and coaching for individuals in recovery. Barb is also known to be an expert in management, leadership and how to lead an organization through a change process.

MCC Logo

Barb has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Bucknell University; and a Masters Degree in Special Studies from George Washington University. Barb is also a graduate of Accomplishment Coaching, and holds the MCC (Master Certified Coach) credential from the International Coach Federation (ICF). While at the EPA, Barb won EPA's national Excellence in Management Award and successfully completed the Senior Executive Service Candidate program. Barb is also certified to administer Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator and the Leadership Circle’s 360 degree feedback assessment tool. She also uses the Enneagram in her practice. Barb is both a master facilitator and a trained mediator.

Barb resides on Bainbridge Island, Washington and has three children.

Barb Specializes in working with:

  • Coaches who want to take their coaching and their practice to the next level
  • Women in transition: Creating powerful endings and new beginnings
  • Families with a parent or child suffering from the disease of addiction
  • Individuals in recovery
  • Entrepreneurs starting their own business
  • People recovering from a life threatening illness
  • People who are resigned and feeling victimized
  • Individuals looking for work/life balance
  • Government Supervisors, Managers, Executives who want to step up into powerful leadership; create work/life balance; tackle difficult issues and employees; deal with conflict; and learn how to give and receive feedback
  • Managers and Executives leading change
  • Employees in a long standing conflict
  • Underachieving employees and managers
  • Managers who want to create a culture of accountability

Barb’s Best Practices for Building Your Business

Green Thumb

Most of my clients come from relationships I have tended over the years.  As I look back over the nine years since I graduated from the coaches training program, my clients have come from:

  • People I have known, worked with, and kept in touch with over the course of my work life; 
  • Referrals from past and current clients (including people who have interviewed me but not selected me);
  • Referrals from health/HR professionals; and
  • Coach Training Programs (CTP) where I have been a mentor coach and leader in training.

For me, it’s all about relationships—building them and nurturing them over time and space.   I think of myself as a gardener.  Like a good gardener, I don’t just plant seeds of possibility and hope they will germinate or turn into clients months or years later.  Instead, I carefully and lovingly nurture my seeds or relationships and trust that with care and feeding, some will blossom into clients at just the right time.

  • The first step is preparation of the soil where I plant the seeds.  A rich soil for planting has been turned over and over and has many nutrients.  I “turn over” the soil with new conversations and I keep in touch.  Also preparation includes deciding where to plant.   There are many places I can plant seeds, I decide which of the fields will be most prosperous and I plant there.  This is akin to what we suggest in the coaches training program—“swim in the ponds” where you are likely to find paying clients.  In this case, plant seeds in the fields most likely to bear fruit.
  • The second step is planting seeds.  Planting is cyclical and generally happens every season.  I plant lots of seeds and remain unattached to which ones sprout.  Some seasons I let a plot lay fallow to regenerate, but no worries, because there are lots of plots to choose from.
  • The next step is care and feeding.  I have no idea which seeds will sprout so I take care of them all.  I send messages, cards, leadership articles, emails; whatever I think would be of interest.  Denise Yamada from San Diego says it takes nine touches to create a new client.  So my care and feeding creates multiple opportunities to connect and “touch” my potential clients.  At this stage I’m thinking what can I give, not what can I get.
  • After this is harvesting.  I really never know what is going to be in my harvest each season.  Trust is important.  I remain unattached to which seeds sprout and manifest as new clients.
  • Then comes enjoying the bounty.  This is where I am surprised and delighted at who shows up.  I practice gratitude.  I share the bounty knowing that the cycles of nature are divine and unpredictable.  Some seasons I may have a bumper crop of clients so I share with others.
  • The last step is beginning again.   When a client completes, just like when a plant “goes to seed,” things sprout and are created elsewhere.  A seed of possibility from a satisfied client can produce a new client far flung!  So for me, new clients come from last season’s crops.   Is this phase I also take time to regenerate so I can approach next season’s planting with joy and  ease.  Who I am being when I garden is what creates my “green thumb” -- 

Authenticity, Spirit, Love, Leader and Wisdom