Sterling Cruz-Herr

Executive coach, consultant

Sterling’s coaching and consulting practice draw from more than 30 years of experience as a grantmaker, nonprofit executive, university professor, and entrepreneur.  The focus of their career has been innovating to advance social change, with an emphasis on the elevation of marginalized communities, most especially youth and elders of color as well as LGBTQIA+ people.  They founded TransClue, a coaching and consulting company to advance the full inclusion of trans and nonbinary people where they work and live. 

Prior to founding TransClue, Sterling served as chief engagement officer of SAGE, a national nonprofit advocating for LGBTQ+ elders. In that role, they oversaw diversity and inclusion, communications, large-scale intergenerational engagement initiatives, and a national network of 30 affiliates. As a grantmaker at the Chicago Community Trust, Sterling oversaw a 10-year, $30 million initiative aimed at strengthening services for families in seven Chicago communities. Sterling also founded a social media company that served nonprofits and foundations for more than a decade as well as dapperQ, a website that uses fashion to build solidarity across trans, nonbinary and queer communities.

Sterling has worked with a variety of organizations including, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ford Foundation, Community Foundations of America, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, eOne, the Communications Network, Barrier-Free Living, Springpoint Schools, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, University of Texas, and HR&A Advisors.

Sterling holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio and an M.A. from DePaul University where they also taught.  They completed their leadership coach training at Teleos Institute.  Learn more on LinkedIn. 

The Science Behind Our Practice

Our work is grounded in established methodologies and models of human and organizational behavior, including, but not limited to the following:

Emotional Intelligence

The competencies of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management) account for an individual’s ability to understand their own and others’ emotions and use that information to guide decision-making and action. Research has shown that leaders who master the competencies of emotional intelligence have a distinct advantage.

Positivity & Resilience

The incredible developments in neuroscience research over the last several decades have enabled a greater understanding of how practices that promote positivity and resilience—both individually and organizationally—have a significant and lasting impact on our capacity for creative thinking, productivity, efficiency, empathy, focus and more.

Intentional Change

​Developed by Richard Boyatzis, the Intentional Change Model underpins successful leadership development programs by supporting an individual or group in intentionally moving through five stages of change that close the gap between a current “real” self and a clearly articulated “ideal” self.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry, developed by David Cooper Rider, is a strengths-based model of analysis, decision-making and strategic change that clarifies the assets and motivations that are an organization’s strengths in order to build or rebuild an organization based on what is working rather than trying to fix what doesn’t.

Resistance and Cycle of Change

People are at their most creative in their resistance. The Gestalt cycle of change maps the critical stages of change that all members of a group must experience in order to optimize success and minimize resistance. Disruption of the cycle manifests in very specific levels of resistance that can be effectively mitigated through intentional responses. 


Mindfulness is the awareness that one develops through ​paying attention to the present moment through your five senses without judgment. In addition to relieving stress and building resilience, even a simple mindfulness practice can significantly expand your range of options in any given moment. Incorporating mindfulness into any process of change or development supports an individual or group by rewiring the brain for more intentional responses and behaviors.

Dynamic Inquiry

Dynamic Inquiry, developed by Annie McKee and the Teleos Leadership Institute, is a method of discovery that uncovers an organization’s emotional reality–what people care about, what is working well, and what’s getting in the way. The purpose of the inquiry is twofold: 1) to identify underlying issues related to culture and leadership that are helping or hindering implementation of a strategy; and 2) to build ownership and commitment to the mission, vision, strategy, ideal culture and leadership framework among key stakeholders.