The History & Story of SDPCA and its evolution to PCA

Organizational Information about PCA

Imagine it’s 1996 and you are one of 20-25 people crowded into the living room of Ken D, Foster’s condo in Pacific Beach, CA. It was the first meeting ever of coaches coming together in San Diego.

Everyone was eager to share some of the challenges in the new field of coaching and the opportunity to form relationships – which for many have lasted for decades since then.

By the end of the meeting, although we didn't have the name yet, SDCPA was born and became a chapter of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). This was the early days of the coaching profession and ICF itself was in its infancy. They knew that having local chapters was critical to the profession’s growth.

As Ken D Foster explains,

In the beginning, we came together to explore the boundaries of life coaching and how we could impact the communities we were working in.

At our meeting, we would go around the room, introduce ourselves, find out what other coaches were working on, discuss our challenges, give each other feedback, and discuss ideas on how to better coach our clients.

Our groups were robust and all of us were filled with passion for coaching and changing lives,”  he continues. “It became apparent to us that within the Life coaching model was a force that fostered change quickly.

All we needed to do what get out of the way or our opinions, judgments, and limiting beliefs and ask insightful questions to help our clients get answers to their greatest challenges.

Then came the accountability piece when we incorporated this and tracked the results the model became one that we could use for both personal and professional growth. 

I don’t think many of us knew it at the time, but we were the pioneers of a new industry. An industry that was born out of the passion of creating something better for all. Some people who were very involved early on included Sandra Schrift, Clive Harrison, Billie Frances, Peter Redding, Kathy Fleming, and Laura Reubenstein.”

After a year or so of serving, Ken handed over the Leadership to Peter Redding. 

Sometime after Peter Redding's leadership, the meetings were moved to a room in the Shopping Center at La Jolla Village Square, San Diego. Linnea J. Blair, who served on the board between the years 2000-2005, shared with us that there were just a few sitting in a circle and talking during the first meetings. Over the next few years, the group grew to 100 members.

Around the end of 2009 and in 2010, the Non-Profit Coaching initiative got started where a number of coaches volunteered to do pro-bono coaching for Non-Profit executive directors. Many coaches in San Diego were not ICF members and some members were not coaches but provided services to coaches. So, to be inclusive of the whole community, SDPCA decided to form a 501 C nonprofit organization that embraced both ICF coaches and others.

Sheryl Roush who served on the Board in 2005 shared with us that she started the printed membership directory, with advertising that paid for the publication. 

Sheryl was also the creator of the original Coronado Bridge painting used for the cover of the directory for a couple of years, and the first SDPCA logo. The “Coach Finder” function that still works really well for our coaches today was initiated for the website, at an additional nominal fee at the time.

There were some challenges at times that SDPCA faced as any other organization does, like keeping the membership steady, attracting more coaches to the organization and embracing both life coaches and executive coaches.

At some point SDPCA had to stop being an ICF chapter although it continued to offer CEU units for certified coaches. ICF had a requirement for all members to be ICF members as well. 

Over the years SDPCA also changed locations based on members’ preferences. It was once at the Kearny Mesa Marriott, then moved to Sheraton on Aero Drive until May 2015. Then SDPCA moved to Corporate Alliance in La Jolla from June 2015 until April 2016. The organization then moved to its most recent location at University of San Diego.

During the years of 2013 and 2014, under Dr. Elizabeth Fried’s presidency, all processes and procedures for running meetings were redefined with the help of another Board member, Brian Conlon.

The weekend retreat for the Board to do strategy building started during those years. As part of the bonding process, a board holiday party was held at the President’s residence for the incoming and outgoing Board members.

An evaluation form to objectively evaluate potential speakers and ensure the process was fair was also created during these years. There were more banner ads and showcase videos to generate revenue and help members gain further exposure.  

The Board worked with the Center for Credentialing in Education and ICF to arrange programs to be approved for credits. SDPCA also introduced a student membership for a lower price.

During 2015, under Susan Curtin’s leadership, the Member-at-Large for Membership Board position was added. The Sponsorship/Advertising process and forms were updated. An associate member category was introduced for those who did not want to take advantage of the Coach Finder.

SDPCA recognized and provided a gift card to a member who invited a guest who converted to a member at our monthly meetings. The redesign of the website and our new logo was created to have an updated look and feel for marketing purposes.

One of the favorite meetings that year was our Non-Profit panel presentation targeting Non-Profits in San Diego County where 5 Non-Profits utilized SDPCA Pro-bono coaching services.

In addition, a Member Orientation to first time guests and new members was offered after program meetings. SDPCA Memberships Benefits brochure and bookmarks were updated. 

SDPCA also participated in the San Diego Collaboration along with SHRM, UCSD Extension ATD and others to collaborate more with other local professional associations on shared events.

Also, the collaboration with the Association of Corporate Executive Coaching (ACEC) enabled SDPCA to be promoted on their website and provided a discount to our membership.

SDPCA also added a member page to showcase the books that members have written.

Also in 2015, the first HR panel presentation with 4 employers present (3 being global companies) was one of the most well attended meetings of the whole year. Cooperation with Alliant University made it possible for their students to attend SDPCA meetings to learn more about the coaching profession.

In 2016, under Tamara Furman’s presidency, SDPCA had launched its new website, new logo, and updated newsletter with a fresh and clean look.  With the launch of the new website, SDPCA converted from .com to .org to better represent its non-profit status.  

During the February meeting of 2016, it became clear our coaching community was eager to have more speakers who can facilitate content that enhances their core coaching skills.  As a result of the members engagement, a focus on attracting powerful speakers was implemented.

The board has spent much of 2016 reviewing and implementing many foundational elements that will position SDPCA well for the future.  They approved and posted policies on the website for Terms of Use, Terms of Sale and Privacy.  All the Board member processes were reviewed and updated to ensure future board members enjoy a smooth transition into their roles.  The board also agreed to move to a new bank and merchant accounting system to reduce costs and streamline several processes. 

In 2018 SDPCA moved its monthly meetings to meet at DeVry University under President Sheryl Roush. Sheryl spearheaded an effort with Treasurer Heidrun Ziche at that time to overhaul the organization bylaws and set up operational procedures for board elections.

By the end of 2018, with the encouragement of VP Communications, Tom Teague, SDPCA upgraded its website once again, moving it onto a hosted online business platform to better position SDPCA for managing its membership, and to provide a hosting platform with a private member area for sharing digital content.

In 2019, VP Technology, Tom Teague began recording meetings on Zoom, with an eye towards providing meeting recordings and creating hybrid meeting format where people could attend meetings remotely.

As President, Tom Teague, closed our meeting in March 2020 at Hera Hub in San Diego not knowing that this was the last in-person meeting SDPCA we would have before the COVID pandemic had its worldwide impact through 2020-2021 and is still with us as we move into 2022.

SDPCA didn't miss a beat, moving our meetings to a live online format using Zoom.  In 2020 and 2021, SDPCA took advantage of the online format to expand its membership geographic reach nationwide in the US and internationally into Canada with guests from as far away as the UK and South Africa.

Moving fully into the online virtual format during COVID led SDPCA in 2020 and 2021 to realize a vision to expand our member participation well beyond the borders of San Diego.

New Name / New Brand

By the end of our 25th anniversary year 2021, during the fall elections, the SDPCA membership approved a plan presented by the Board of Directors to drop "San Diego" from the front of our name and simply become the "Professional Coaches Alliance (PCA)"

Our vision for PCA has shifted some as well, acknowledging that there has been a continuing need in the professional coaching community to gain the skills needed to develop and sustain thriving professional coaching businesses in addition to the traditional need to hone our coaching skills.

For several years PCA has included in our membership not only coaches, but we have also included professional service providers who are themselves coaches, or who primarily serve coaches with their professional services. We have long included a mix of business skills topics with coaching skills topics in our monthly meetings and workshops.

Revised Branding and Memberships

At the start of 2022 with a revised statement of who we are, what we do, and what we value as follows: 

  • PCA is a friendly community of professional coaches and service providers who are collaborating to develop and sustain thriving, successful professional coaching businesses that inspire positive change.
  • PCA provides educational and networking opportunities to improve coaching and business practices.
  • PCA values collaboration, inclusiveness, integrity, progressiveness, passion, and service.

PCA now has three classes of members:

  1. Coach members - are coaches and/or those interested in coaching
  2. Service provider members - provide professional services for coaches
  3. Premium members - both Coaches and Service Providers

PCA has reached its 26th year with the help of committed Presidents, Board Members, Coach and Service Provider Members who were dedicated to consistently looking at our values, and assessing what is working, what isn't, and where we can improve ourselves and the PCA. By doing so, and sharing our win's, breakthroughs, failures, and successes with each other, the industry and PCA has grown. What has driven our Founder Ken D Foster and the other SDPCA Presidents was: "The drive to serve, empower, and make this community and our world a better place for all" says Ken. "I sense this is what we align with today as well."

PCA Presidents

PCA has had quite a few presidents since being founded by Ken D Foster in 1996. Below is the chronological list:

2020-2022 Tom Teague
2018-2019 Sheryl Roush
2017 Susan Curtin
2017 Judy Sigward
2016 Tamara Furman
2015 Susan Curtin
2013-2014 Elizabeth Fried
2012 Beverly Bergman
2010-2011 Denis Sweeney
2009 Michael Mark
2008 Debbie Lousberg
2007 Billie Frances
2006 Bryce Whiting
2005 Shauna MacKay and Sheryl Roush
2004 Julie Roy
2002-2003 Christopher McAuliffe
2000-2001 Clive Harrison
2000 Michelle La Prise & Linnea Blair (co-chairs)
1997-99 Peter Redding
1996 Ken D. Foster, Founder

This story was originally put together by VP of Marketing of SDPCA Brooke Erol in 2016 after several email and phone conversations with past Presidents and Board members. 

This living story was updated to include the 2018-2021 period by Tom Teague.

 We want to extend a special thank you to Karen Dietz, owner of Just Story It (Bestselling business storytelling author, speaker, trainer, coach) who helped us make our history into a beautiful story.

If you have any further stories or facts about SDPCA, we will always love to hear about them.