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Faculty & Staff


  • Shurance, Mike Shurance, Mike
  • Dean of the Townsend Institute
  • Beta 206 A
  • (949) 214-3363
  • Christmas Thomas, Margaret Christmas Thomas, Margaret
  • Associate Dean of the Townsend Institute, Faculty
Christmas Thomas, Margaret


Dr. Christmas Thomas joined Concordia University ten years ago where she is an Associate Dean and was a leader in starting the Townsend Institute and has been instrumental in program design and launching of the PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision.

Prior to Concordia she led National Counseling/Academic services for the world’s largest human services provider and consulted internationally in the areas of counseling, education and special education services. She has helped host several national conferences for counselors and educators, provided coaching consulting and presented on these topics across the United States and the United Kingdom.

Degrees Earned

  • Ph.D., Education and Leadership, Barry University
  • M.A., Counselor Education, University of Central Florida
  • B.A., Psychology, University of North Florida
  • Thompson, Michelle Thompson, Michelle
  • Director of the Executive Coaching & Consultation Program, PCC
Thompson, Michelle


Michelle Thompson is the Director of the Executive Coaching and Consulting program in the Townsend Institute at Concordia University.  

As a Leadership and Growth Coach, credentialed as a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation, she brings a breadth of executive leadership experience in the non-profit and for-profit sector combined with almost two decades of involvement with the Townsend Growth Model.  

Degrees and Certifications

  • M.S., Organizational Development, Abilene Christian University
  • M.A., Children's and Family Ministry, Bethel Seminary
  • B.A., Elementary Education, Concordia University Chicago
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC), International Coaching Federation 
  • Certificate, Conflict Resolution and Mediation, Abilene Christian University

Program Faculty

  • Fugitt, Gilbert Fugitt, Gilbert
  • Program Director of Organizational Psychology
  • Administration 300 A/B
  • (949) 214-3057
Fugitt, Gilbert


With more than 20 years of experience in higher education and ministry leadership experience, Gilbert has honed a sense of working with organizations to build health and high-performance. Gilbert has tremendous experience working with individuals and teams to create a strategic plan that will give measurable results and help you achieve success.

Prior to working with the Townsend Institute, Gilbert was the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at Concordia University Irvine. While serving in that role, he gained extensive experience leading teams in working through stressful situations and building a healthy culture.

Gilbert brings a doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University that has given him a unique perspective to help clients find what motivates them to do their best work. He has worked with many individuals to create a plan for them to explore their unique path to see and overcome the barriers that are limiting their growth. He utilizes his experience in StrengthsFinder and Emotional Intelligence in working with individuals and teams.

As a faculty member and leadership and executive consultant, Gilbert works consistently with leaders and organizations to make significant changes that have a long-term impact. Gilbert’s goal is to create a culture of trust where people feel the freedom to achieve at the highest level.

Degrees Earned

  • Ed.D., Organizational Leadership, Pepperdine University
  • M.A., Psychology, Pepperdine University
  • B.A., Theology, Concordia University, Seward, NE

Adjunct Faculty

Michael Anderson


World traveling, adventure seeking adrenaline junky, motorcyclist, husband, and father Michael Anderson. After a brief hitch in the US Army National Guard, Michael joined the staff of Cru and continues to work in vocational ministry with Cru's Athletes in Action. He teaches and consults in leadership development, team building, and communication all over the world. Among his resources are degrees in Electrical Engineering (AS), Communication Science (BA UConn), a master's degree in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University, and decades of experience in executive leadership. Michael is also a certified executive coach, CoreClarity Facilitator, and Action Learning Facilitator. It is his great joy to work as an adjunct at Indiana Wesleyan University and Concordia University, Irvine as he leads people and teams around the world to wild success.

Degrees Earned

  • M.A. Communication and Leadership, Gonzaga University
  • B.A. Communication Science, University of Connecticut
Wendy Balman

Wendy Balman, PCC


Wendy supports leaders in navigating the sometimes awkward, challenging and exciting opportunities that surround organizational leadership. Her belief that each individual has a unique contribution to bring that is vital to organizational success is the driving force behind her work. Creating a thriving organizational culture that results in high energy, productivity and high trust relationships is her vision of success.

Wendy holds the Professional Certified Coach credential with the International Coach Federation. She uses several assessments as tools to provide greater awareness and touchstones for growth and learning for individuals, teams and throughout an organization. Her favorite starting point is an exploration with her clients on their strengths and where they are brilliant. This provides a positive foundation for addressing what may not be working for them. Wendy works as a Leadership Performance Coach at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and is owner and lead coach for Creative Coaching Solutions, a leadership and organizational coaching company.

Degrees Earned

  • M.A., Organizational Systems Renewal, Seattle University
  • B.A., Organizational Management, Concordia University Chicago
Bjorndahl-Jay, Jill


Jill has a Ph.D. from Capella University in Organizational Management with an emphasis in Leadership. She has a M.S.M. from Notre Dame de Namur University with an emphasis in Project Management. Jill’s experience spans from 12 years in the collegiate classroom to working in the board room as a business executive for more than 20 years. A dynamic and seasoned entrepreneur with a track record in developing and implementing effective business processes, Jill has experience in managing and leading internal teams, creating win-win relationships with vendors and suppliers to improve cost-efficiency across the supply chain, and tracking adherence to organizational strategy, strategic objectives and action plans. Currently she is the chairman and CEO at NSI (Nutritional Services, Inc.) in San Carlos, CA.

Pattie Cotton

Patti Cotton, PCC


Patti Cotton, Founder and CEO of Cotton Group, LLC, is a sought-after leader and strategist whose background includes more than 25 years of multicultural leadership experience around the globe, in the areas of diplomatic relations, philanthropy, public relations, and communications. As an executive consultant and coach, trainer, international Fortune 500 speaker, and author, Patti brings this wealth of experience to her executive coaching clients, to the corporate teams she develops, and to the audiences she effectively engages as a speaker. Through her signature 360˚Leadership brand, Patti works with executives, business owners, and other chief decision-makers to engage, elevate, and equip them for greater leadership and outcomes. She also provides training, facilitation, workshops, and retreats in such areas as actionable strategic planning; critical communications and conflict management; taking purpose to make impact; breaking through immunities to change; and other leadership-related topics. Patti holds the Professional Certified Coach credential with the International Coach Federation.

Cummins, Rich


Rich Cummins is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Bethel College (IN). With more than twenty-years in senior leadership and experience with c-suite positions, Rich is a life-long learner who is oriented toward growth and constantly pursuing ways to challenge himself and those around him. Having received a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership and an Advanced Executive Coaching credential from the inaugural Townsend Institute Class at Huntington University, Rich desires to help others lead at the highest level possible by developing a strong character, healthy relationships, and high performance. Currently, Rich is pursuing his doctoral degree in higher education leadership from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Additionally, Rich is an executive coach who is certified in the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 emotional intelligence assessments.

Degrees Earned

  • Ed.D. student in Higher Education Leadership, Bethel University (In Progress)
  • M.A. Organizational Leadership, The Townsend Institute at Huntington University
  • B.A. Political Science, Purdue University
Livingston, Scott


Scott is the president of Livingston Consulting Group and IntegratEI, where he partners with professionals with a focus on emotional intelligence to improve their execution and performance in their organizations. Many of his clients have expressed that he works with “heart and edge,” meaning that he’s friendly and engaging, but also holds his clients accountable to their performance objectives.

Makin, Gregg


Gregg has been the Group Life Pastor at Living Faith Christian Church on Long Island, NY, joining the staff in 1983. He primarily invested his time in training and developing church leaders. He is now transitioning to be a Leadership Coach at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in VA.

He loves to bike, run, and play tennis, racquetball and disc golf. He's been married to Joyce for 38 years and together enjoys hiking, kayaking, and hitting the beach. He is dad to four adult children and Eleanor, his granddaughter. Growing up in central PA, he began his personal relationship with Jesus Christ as a teen. And during those years, became an avid Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins fan!

Degrees Earned:

  • PhD in Organizational Leadership, Regent University Virginia Beach, Virginia 2005
  • Masters of Science in Education, Hofstra University Hempstead, New York 1992
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Houghton College Houghton, New York 1982
Prof. Leah Nelson


Leah Nelson is an experienced leader with over 23 years of leadership experience in the military and business sectors. As a coach, she has helped individuals and businesses achieve next level outcomes. She carries a unique leadership perspective combining relationships with the need for results in both the personal and professional realms. She specializes in helping both men and women achieve their vision and achieve significant growth in both their professional and personal lives.

Leah completed her undergraduate studies at the United States Naval Academy. She served for 13 years in the military, where she was a Helicopter Pilot and a Leadership Instructor/Facilitator. Following military service, she has spent the last 20 years as a small business owner working in coaching, recruiting, leadership training and development, sales and marketing, and small business development. She received her Masters of Organizational Leadership through the Townsend Institute at Huntington University.

Helping others achieve their goals and design their lives with excellence and balance is one of Leah’s greatest joys. An avid athlete, Leah recently completed the Boston Marathon.

Degrees Earned

  • M.A. Counseling Psychology, Trinity International University
  • United States Naval Academy
Wilhelm, Juliana


Juliana Wilhelm, MA LCPC is the founder and director of Cardia Counseling Center, Carol Stream, Illinois, where she has been providing effective counseling therapy to individuals and families for more than 19 years. As director, she has trained and supervised clinical therapists and has partnered with leaders to strengthen both their personal and professional lives.

Through the thousands of face-to-face hours of therapy and coaching with high capacity leaders in both the public and private sector, she has first-hand knowledge of the type of impact created when leaders are equipped with skills such as emotional intelligence and are strengthened in their personal character competencies. Benefits range from employee productivity, positivity, and retention, to less burn out at high-level positions and satisfying personal lives.

Through her personal experience as a participant in the Townsend Leadership Program and as an instructor in the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling at Huntington University, she is well-equipped to facilitate change for leaders from all walks of life.

In addition to teaching at Huntington University and her private practice, Juliana is an adjunct instructor in the graduate program at Wheaton College and has taught at Indiana Wesleyan University. She has led ministry groups at Willow Creek Community Church and has been the featured speaker/instructor at conferences for lay and professional audiences both nationally and internationally.

Ms. Wilhelm holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Master’s degree from Wheaton College, Illinois. She is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) in the state of Illinois.

Degrees Earned

  • M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Wheaton College
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