Judy Santos, MCC, founder and director of the Christian Coaches Network, passed away on Tuesday, March 2, in Bellingham, WA. She was a beloved coach, mentor, colleague, friend, mother and grandmother. As a community of Christian coaches, we grieve with her family and all those who knew and loved her. At the invitation of Tony Stoltzfus at www.christiancoachingcenter.org, I wrote and posted the following as a memorial feature in Judy’s honor.
It may be her cheerfully raspy voice or delightfully distinctive laugh that we first remember when we think of Judy Santos. After all, as coaches living in a virtual community, many of our most significant relationships are developed over the phone. Judy’s students, clients, colleagues, and friends will miss the sound of her voice and her laughter.
Those who met Judy in person were often struck by her diminutive size. Coach Mike Pfau (Crossways Life Coaching) said recently, “I recall when I first met Judy at a CCN conference. I told my wife, ‘She is such a small lady but she has the spirit of a lion!’”
A pioneer in Christian coaching
“Tenacious trailblazer” is one way coach trainer and author Susan Whitcomb (Career Coach Academy) describes Judy. Her impact on the Christian coaching community began in 1998 and executive coach and author Jane Creswell (Coach Approach Ministries, Internal Impact) tells it like this:
Judy and I both were students at Coach U and had listed ourselves as Christians in the Coach U networking database. Judy contacted me and others about our interest in having lunch together at the ICF conference in 1998 in Scottsdale…It was a table of about 6-8 people. Judy shared her vision for a network and a few of us became the first board members of the Christian Coaches Network in the Spring of 1999. It was exciting to be a part of that conversation and think of the potential that could result from a network of Christian coaches. It reminded me of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 where he wanted all of us who come after him to be united. This felt like a uniting effort.
Following the formation of the Christian Coaches Network (CCN), coach Ruth Ledesma compiled, Coaching by the Book: Principles of Christian Coaching (2001). Ruth collaborated with other CCN members who contributed chapters for this book, the first Christian coaching book to highlight the relationship between Biblical principles and coaching concepts.
The most well-known Christian coaching book, Gary Collins’ Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential Into Reality (2001, 2009), introduced me to Judy Santos. Gary described the formation of CCN as he acknowledged the ways she contributed to his book. I wanted to know more about CCN and called Judy in 2002 . She impacted my life and career in many ways, but most significantly by my connection with CCN. Through Judy I discovered a community of excellent coaches who were deeply committed to Christ. Over the years I’ve enjoyed meeting CCN coaches from across the U.S. as well as Mexico, Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia.
The Christian Coaches Network has sponsored three live conferences, and I’ve experienced all three – Virginia Beach (VA) in 2003, Seattle (WA) in 2005 and Charlotte (NC) in 2007. Assembled together at each conference were a diverse group of coaches – diverse in background, training, denomination, niche, calling, etc. All, however, were united by a desire to be Christ-honoring coaches. Those attending the conferences found the community encouraging and invigorating.
Coach Mary Ann Deitschler was the conference chair for the CCN live conferences. Of Judy she says:
Her goal was for Christian coaches to impact the world and make our presence known in the coaching community, and I believe it was realized. She was a tireless leader willing to invest her time, energy, and resources to make it happen. It was a pleasure working with her because her approach was always direct, honest, mature and solution-oriented.
Coach, Teacher and Mentor
Judy was an ICF Master Certified Coach and many of our fellow Christian coaches knew her as their personal coach. Coach and author, Jane Birr, says, “Judy was my first coach 10 years ago as I started my life coaching business. I could not have asked for a better person to guide me on the journey.”
In his recent Professional Christian Coaching Program newsletter, Christopher McCluskey, coach trainer and author, wrote of Judy’s impact as a teacher and mentor to many:
Many…were trained by Judy in one of the 33 Foundational Coach Training [PCCP/ILCT] classes she had co-facilitated over the last 10 years, [and] were prepared for ICF exams in her practicum classes. When combined with her earlier years on faculty with Coach University and the private mentor coaching she provided for hundreds of new coaches, there is no person in the world who has directly trained and equipped more Christian coaches than Judy Santos.
Leaving a legacy
Judy left the helm of a significant part of her professional legacy to the new director of the Christian Coaches Network, Gary Wood. Two phone gatherings – virtual memorial services in honor of Judy – were beautifully facilitated by Gary on Tuesday, March 10, 2010. Those on the bridge lines shared a time of reflection, sadness, celebration and inspiration.
Personal stories were shared and one of the themes I noticed was Judy’s care for others demonstrated by her commitment to praying for personal needs within the Christian coaching community. Several remembered her faithful, specific prayers for their families in times of difficulty.
Another theme at the virtual memorial services was Judy’s love for her family. As much as she demonstrated her love for coaching and Christian coaches, her love for her family was preeminent. Many in the coaching community knew her delight in her children and grandchildren and that was strongly noted as we shared memories of her.
When I read how Judy’s family described her, it was delightful to see that they who knew her best remember her in the same ways we in the coaching community do. Her family says:
She is remembered for her unwavering Christian faith, her wonderful sense of humor, her tenacity, strong opinions and her love.
Judy’s battle with cancer began five years ago. Recently, after the illness returned and progressed aggressively, she said she would be healed on this side of heaven or the other. She went on to her healing in heaven on March 2, 2010. Until we see her again, she will be greatly missed.
Furthering Judy’s legacy
In the past few weeks, Gary Wood has passionately and actively taken on the leadership of the Christian Coaches Network. As with all change, new and exciting initiatives are emerging, and Judy gave her input and blessing before the official leadership transition last month (Feb 2010).
Judy’s faithful commitment to prayer will remain the same at CCN. An intercessory prayer team, lead by coach Stephanie Oden, has long been part of the fabric of the community. Additionally, coach Vicki Corrington will be facilitating a new monthly prayer gathering for CCN members. Judy set the stage for prayer to be a continued hallmark of her legacy.
The Christian Coaches Network is in the early stages of establishing the Judy Santos Award of Excellence. CCN leadership and Judy’s family agree that this will be a fitting tribute to Judy’s career and her impact on the profession of Christian coaching. If you wish to donate to support this award and the recognition it will mean for Christian coaches in Judy’s honor, you can send a check in memory of Judy to Christian Coaches Network, 142 Pratt Crescent, Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada, P1P 1P5. CCN is not a charitable organization and therefore unable to issue receipts for charitable giving purposes. However, donations will be acknowledged to Judy’s family.