Susan Symington
COPIA Partner

At a Glance:

  • ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
  • 40 years of executive experience in government and business
  • Trusted coach to first-time supervisors, middle managers & senior executives.


Building Resilient Leaders

Susan Symington is a coach who has met the challenges of the 21st Century with grace, creativity and humor. During the past 12 years she has devoted herself to building relationships with individuals and organizations that sought coaching as part of their approach to building resilient leaders. Along with her business partners she has also built a strong community of fellow coaches and learners in COPIA.

CIA Career Experience

Susan came to coaching and leadership development toward the end of a 31-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, where she was an analyst, a field operator and manager before reaching the Senior Executive Service ranks. She served overseas in three tours in Latin America, and traveled widely in multiple positions, including in the Counterterrorist Center after the events of 9/11. At CIA she managed human resources for the operational part of the Agency, including recruiting, tradecraft training, and leadership programs.

At home with the culture of government organizations, and familiar with the language of budgets and finance, Susan is a sought-after coach for executives who run large programs and report to Congress or Boards of Directors. Most of her government work has been in the Intelligence Community, at the National Science Foundation, and at the National Credit Union Administration.

With many years of experience living and working overseas, Susan is particularly interested in cross-cultural coaching and feedback. She has been involved with coaching and organizational development in nonprofit organizations as well as leadership development for high potential District of Columbia teachers and principals. She has designed and taught extensively in leadership programs. In 2022 she was one of the first coaches in the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the ICF to participate in group coaching for Ukrainian coaches in crisis after the outbreak of war.

Coaching High Stress Leaders

Susan’s training and personal philosophy lead her to work with her clients as a partner. Coaching leaders, especially those under the high levels of stress common in the national security arena, requires both toughness and respect. While working with clients toward their goals, Susan brings a light touch and diplomacy as she holds them accountable for their actions and decisions. Her extensive work with groups, especially on how to build trust, resonates profoundly with the organizations she serves.

Over the years her work has led to successful organizational change leadership in a variety of public and private sector arenas. Feedback indicates that Susan’s clients are especially appreciative of her ability to speak their language, understand their challenges, and help them on their path to more successful and satisfying careers.

Working with Groups

In addition to coaching individual executive clients, Susan also coaches groups and teams on how to clarify their goals, build better relationships, and achieve lasting results. She teaches leadership courses on a variety of subjects such as emotional intelligence, versatility, and beginning skills for new supervisors.

What Distinguishes Me:

  • Deep experience in federal government executive management
  • Empathy for the challenges of integrating work and family commitments
  • Ability to make the implicit explicit–how to say your truth in ways others can hear
  • Building trust in personal relationships and on teams

Assessments/Tools I Use

  • Everything DiSC® Suite
  • CCL Benchmarks® for Executives™
  • CCL Benchmarks® for Managers™
  • Change Style™ Indicator
  • Conflict Dynamics Profile
  • EQ-i 2.0 360
  • Hogan Leadership Forecast
  • Influence Style™ Indicator
  • Leadership Circle Profile™
  • Leadership Versatility Index
  • OPM Leadership 360™
  • Cultural Intelligence (CQ)
  • CliftonStrengths Assessment

Don’t settle for a bandaid. Don’t do it alone. Work with us to create leadership development offerings that actually deliver lasting results.