Nancy Oelklaus

Nancy Oelklaus


Dr. Nancy Oelklaus is an executive coach, author, and catalyst for positive change. She builds on more than 25 years of experience in leadership development, systems thinking, and change management to help organizations, teams, and individuals transform and focus emotional energy to attain the best in business and in life.

Dr. Oelklaus created The Success Accelerator® model of executive coaching, which uses innovative processes and strategies to transform relationships and facilitate success. Her creative, focused, and sincere approach integrates key insights to quickly and clearly diagnose core issues, build consensus among team members, and solve business and organizational challenges to effect long-term change. Her national and international experience brings diversity to her work, which is grounded in a deep knowledge of the brain and systems.

Dr. Oelklaus’ passion for unlocking human potential began in 1965 when she joined the Marshall Independent School District in Marshall, Texas. As the district’s language arts coordinator, she created the Marshall Writing Workshop, a highly successful program designed to teach writing to all levels of students. From 1982 to 1991 she served as assistant superintendent of instructional services and created a program of professional development for teachers. She also successfully implemented a sex education program in a very conservative community, diffusing conflict before it arose to minimize controversy.

While working directly with teachers and administrators, Dr. Oelklaus became interested in the process of change and its potential impact on traditional systems for professional development.

Her curiosity about this topic led her to become the executive director of the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, a group dedicated to improving teaching and learning. Dr. Oelklaus led several projects designed to lessen the gap between research and practice. One of these projects created a technology-based curriculum that incorporated leading-edge research directly into students’ learning practices. She also led a project focused on the subject areas tested in Texas public schools; the results were incorporated by the state’s regional service centers in efforts to increase student achievement.

Dr. Oelklaus began to focus more on the systems that help students achieve, including how leadership could facilitate new teaching practices. In the late 1990s she coordinated the Texas Professional Development Imperative, a collaboration of the state’s major education associations, to improve professional development for teachers. She also designed a development process for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills test, bringing together subject matter experts in an effort to ensure the coordinated improvement of curriculum.

In 1997, Dr. Oelklaus connected with an exciting project involving research on the human brain. She began studying how adults learn and change and what factors accelerate that change. She also studied systems: family systems, systems thinking, and systems dynamics. Through Texas ASCD she arranged an international satellite broadcast of Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline and noted expert on systems thinking.

In 1999, Dr. Oelklaus received a grant from the Texas Education Agency to develop a leadership development process for principals that would blend neuroscience and systems thinking to find a model for accelerating change. The process was so effective that she used it as the foundation of her executive coaching practice.

Since 2005 Dr. Oelklaus has served on the team of judges for the H-E-B Excellence in Education District Award. This team determines the one school district to receive H-E-B’s $100,000 cash award, based on visits to the district and extensive interviews.

Dr. Oelklaus has received numerous awards and honors for civic leadership, including the Vision to Action Award from the Visions of a Better World Foundation in Boston. She was named Leader of Leaders by Sam Houston State University’s Department of Educational Leadership and Woman of Achievement by the Business and Professional Women of Marshall, Texas.

She holds a Doctor of Education in educational administration from Texas A&M University, a Master of Arts in English from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor of Arts in speech, cum laude, from Oklahoma Baptist University.

Dr. Oelklaus has spoken throughout the U.S. as well as in Indonesia, Singapore, and The Netherlands. Her articles have appeared in The Systems Thinker, Leverage, The American School Board Journal, The Austin Business Journal, and Leaders of Learners. Her leadership profile, “The Power of Love,” appears in Appreciative Leaders: In the Eye of the Beholder, published by the Taos Institute. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including the newsletter of the Story Circle Network and the 2000 monograph of the Texas Council of Women School Executives, entitled Women as School Executives: The Complete Picture.

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Professional Development for Teachers: A Systemic Makeover

Nine years ago, I became executive director of the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). This nonprofit organization has a compelling mission:…

Eye of the Needle: A Communication Tool

How often have you left a conversation feeling dissatisfied with how it went, how you conducted yourself, and what the final outcome was? Were…

Lessons from the “Cutting Edge”

Successful companies are led by people who put systems in place to release and focus brainpower. To do so, they create workplaces where people…

A Truth from Two Wrens

One September morning, as I sat on the deck, sipping a mug of coffee, listening to morning sounds, and delighting in the coolness that…