Stephanie Klein Ahlbrandt

After a 25-year career working with the United Nations, US government, and non-profit organizations all over the world on human rights and conflict resolution, I created a company in 2020 to provide coaching and consulting to purpose-driven leaders. Becoming a coach just before turning 50 was the realization of a dream to provide deeper support to those working on the frontlines for social change.  I am humbled every day as I work with individuals, teams, and organizations to help them transform through shifts in thinking and behavior to enhance their leadership and impact. It’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.

Then, at the age of 51, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cholangiocarcinoma, a rare terminal illness.  I had just gotten my diagnosis when my photos were taken by Claire for the “50 after 50” project.

Although I anticipated that my illness would involve significant pain and difficulty, I didn’t expect that the journey would also bring so much goodness, love, and joy.

Working and traveling all over the world gave me a front seat to a widespread and universal law: Everything changes. While we can’t control the external events that happen to us, we get to choose how to interpret and live with them. I see my illness as another journey into an unfamiliar country.  It has brought such rich learning including about the human experience and how others have dealt with similar circumstances (which invokes our common humanity because illness and disease is something that affects us all); a greater appreciation for my life and relationships; increased compassion, and a deepened desire to expand my personal strengths, spiritual development, creativity, and connection.

This journey — where heartbreak and gratitude co-exist — is not for the faint of heart.  But the best lessons don’t come from the easy assignments. 😉