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Circle of Distinction Award

The ICF Circle of Distinction program celebrates the best of the coaching profession and ICF. Circle of Distinction members are experienced coach practitioners who have made their mark on ICF and the coaching profession. Circle of Distinction members are chosen for their impact on and contributions to ICF, the coaching profession, and social change; thought leadership; as well as their mission, vision, and core values.

The nomination period for the 2022 Circle of Distinction Award closed on June 10, 2022. Award winners and more information will be posted here when available.

Newest Circle of Distinction Award Honorees

The full press release for these award winners is available here. This year, two new members are welcomed to the ICF Circle of Distinction:

  • Svetlana Chumakova, MCC, Russia: Svetlana was the first credentialed coach in Russia and founded the first native Russian coaching school in 1997. In addition, Svetlana organized the first coaching conferences in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and has developed an independent Coaching Leaders Award in Russia.
  • Marilyn O’Hearne, MCC, USA: Marilyn is one of the pioneering advocates for a diverse, inclusive coaching profession as well as integrating coaching and cultural competencies. She wrote Breaking Free from Bias, (three) book chapters and has delivered 50 programs and interviews, many for ICF chapters globally, as well as developing her own Culturally Intelligent programs for coaches and leaders. Her service as a leader includes both ICF and ACTO boards, the ICF Advance Cultural Competency Advisory Team, and serving as an ICF Coaching Ambassador in Latin America and Asia Pacific.

2019 Inductees

  • Wai K. Leong, MCC (Malaysia)


    • Managing Director of JMC Coach Mastery, which provides accredited coach training, coaching skills training and leadership development services
    • Has provided Mentor Coaching to more than 500 coach practitioners
    • Has helped organizations including Fitness First Asia, Great Eastern Life Assurance and AIA to build strong coaching cultures aligned with ICF’s high standards
    • 30-plus years of leadership experience with 15 years at senior management level of public-listed companies
    • Past ICF Global Board Vice Chair and Director and past president of ICF Malaysia
      • Spearheaded ICF Malaysia’s first community awareness program
      • Spearheaded ICF Malaysia’s first chapter conference
    • Developed System, a web-based coaching software to support organizations in developing their internal coach practitioners
    • Author of two best-selling books
      • Empowering Asian Mindsets Through Coaching
      • Powerful Performance Coaching Tips

    What His Peers and Colleagues Say

    “He not only trains the Core Competencies. He breathes and role models the Core Competencies during his training. By walking the talk and integrating the Core Competencies into his work ethics, he not only demonstrates sound moral and ethical principles at work but communicates to others how to live their values in alignment with ICF Core Competencies and transform lives.”

    “Through his positive relationships with peers, supporting diverse colleagues in collaborative partnership and combining strengths to work together, he provides the best possible environment for everyone to thrive together and co-create achievements.”

    “Wai K is not just a coach by profession. He lives the life of a coach in that his being of a coach shines through at every occasion and in every interaction with people.”

    “Wai K’s awareness of people, emotional intelligence, demeanor and expression in all of his interactions and communication with people explicitly embody respect for people.”

    “Wai K is known to tirelessly help both aspiring and experienced coaches … and act as their mentor.”

    “Being the first MCC in Malaysia, Wai K has brought vibrancy, hope and optimism to the country with regards to the professional outlook of coaching.”

  • Patricia Mathews, MCC (USA)


    • President of Mathews Associates
    • Many years of health care experience including clinical, management and educational roles in acute care, outpatient and educational settings
      • Past leader in multiple health care and health care education associations
      • Past winner of several awards for outstanding association service and health care practice
    • Past ICF Global Board Vice Chair and Director
    • Past leader of the ICF Virtual Community and past Chair of the ICF Global Credentialing and Program Accreditation Committee
    • One of the winners of the 2013 ICF President’s Award for her work on developing the PCC Markers
    • Founding faculty member of the Institute for Transformational Leadership and former program director of the Leadership Coaching program at Georgetown University
    • Co-author of Professional Coaching Competencies: The Complete Guide, and chapter contributor to A Guide to Getting It: Powerful Leadership Skills and On Becoming a Leadership Coach: A Holistic Approach to Coaching Excellence

    What Her Peers and Colleagues Say

    “The biggest contribution Pat Mathews has made to the coaching profession is her years-long drive to increase substantially the credibility of professional coaches. … Much of what we take for granted today with regard to unwavering standards was influenced by Pat as she served on the Credentialing and Accreditation Committee, on the PCC Markers team, and on the ICF Global Board.”

    “Having worked with her on the Board, what I notice is that she listens, contributes, then listens even more because she knows that together the board, or the committee, or the task force will come to the best decision through partnership or and collaboration.”

    “She garners respect from her colleagues around the world. Many more members know her because of her genuine desire to reach out to others and her generosity in providing her knowledge and wisdom and learning wherever and to whomever wants or needs it.”

    “Pat is a contributor who consistently demonstrates the ICF core values in every interaction meeting and presentation.”

    “Pat’s demeanor and approach to all she does has long demonstrated the fact that what she believes is how she lives her life. She believes in coaching and people. Her life of service to others and her dedication to advancing the profession, including contributing new ideas to the profession, are clear examples of how her words, actions and behaviors uphold the very precepts of integrity.”

    “She listens, she appreciates others’ opinions, she is willing to be available to others, she considers all contributions and she invites all perspectives in any conversation. Consequently, when decisions are made, they are made with clarity and with the best interests of the community at heart.”

  • Sue McMahon, PCC (USA)


    • Founder of Living from the Heart, LLC
    • Leading voice in ICF’s Ethics community
      • Chair of the ICF Ethics Independent Review Board
      • Ethics Community of Practice presenter and panelist
      • Past roles include IRB Vice Chair and Complaint Manager, Co-Chair of the Ethics and Standards Committee, IRB member, Ethics and Standards Committee member, and member of the ICF Regulatory Committee
    • Co-founder and past Chapter Leader for the NW Ohio ICF Chapter
    • Introduced coaching into a groundbreaking Leisure Wellness program for recovering addicts through a Collaborative Grant Project with Bowling Green State University, The Great Lakes Center for Integrative Medicine and Focus Healthcare of Ohio
    • International Executive Coach for global talent events, and approved coach for health providers of Bon Secours Mercy Health medical group
    • Ethics presenter for ICF Chapters and Association for Talent Development
    • Subject-matter expert quoted in several print and broadcast interviews

    What Her Peers and Colleagues Say

    “Sue has transformed the hearts and minds of the global professional community as a servant leader who inspires through her actions that demonstrate how to live aligned to values, how to strive to do one’s best work and how to collaborate cross-culturally.”

    “Sue is a role model for all she works with in the coaching profession. Sue McMahon’s loving and compassionate respect for others and the coaching profession sets an exceptional benchmark for her peers and advances our profession.”

    “Sue’s integrity is impeccable. One can always rely on her to deliver on her promises. Integrity, however, goes beyond doing the right things. Sue is an advocate for right behavior. Her efforts with the Independent Review Board (IRB) demonstrate a huge heart and compassion for those trying to get it right. In my opinion, she sees the IRB as a vehicle for advancing coaching integrity around the world. She works tirelessly to advance this agenda.”

    “Sue’s work for the IRB is flawless. She is always prepared. She never dominates, yet she often delegates.”

    “Sue lives in the pursuit of excellence. … As the leader of the IRB, Sue is always trying to better herself [and] be more of who she knows she can be.”

    “Although Sue has achieved much in her career, what is remarkable about Sue is how she lives every day. Her greater achievement is the love, kindness and generosity she brings to the world in everything she does. She has a deep love of humanity and brings out the very best in everyone, believes in others, and trusts they can and will show up in their best possible way. Her unique and very special way of being and interacting with others is what sets her apart from others [and] distinguishes her as a coach and a human being.”

  • Meryl Moritz, MCC (USA)


    • Principal and Chief Coaching Officer of Meryl Moritz Resources, LLC
    • External Evaluator for Columbia University Executive Coaching Program; faculty for P.E.M.I. Shanghai, PRC and Aligned Action International, NLP Coaching Program; and former faculty for University of Miami and New York University
    • Past ICF Global Board Vice Chair, Vice President and Director
    • Past ICF Global Conference track chair and co-founder of ICF Long Island
    • Coach for the TED Fellows Program
    • Currently consulting on a global movement to lay groundwork for dialogues coaches can have with clients who wish to attain inner peace as a stepping stone toward contributing to world peace
    • Numerous publications and conference presentations on topics including leadership development, team coaching and building strong coaching cultures in organizations

    What Her Peers and Colleagues Say

    “I cannot even count the number of times coaches have said to me, ‘I love Meryl!’ Her career legacy can be found in the minds and hearts of her many, many global colleagues, clients, friends and supporters.”

    “Meryl’s primary purpose is to ensure that the coaching profession enjoys unconditional positive regard from all stakeholders. In line with this purpose, she partners with internal coaches to design, implement and evaluate internal coaching programs that are best in class and set them up for the Prism Award. Three of Meryl’s clients have won [chapter or International] Prism Awards.”

    “Reflecting on the profession of coaching and how far we’ve come over the past 30 years, Meryl comes to mind as the most influential person I know. Over many years, she continually found ways to shape the industry and yet remain a humble servant leader for others.”

    “Meryl has a global presence as a coach. She lavishly shares her experience as a coach … and is dedicated to developing coaching core competencies of coaches through teaching and training.”

    “Meryl has truly used the content of her life to create the content of her work. She brings her natural grace and agility from her early years as a dancer to her work coaching businesspeople to be graceful and agile in their leadership. She brings her global perspective, empathy and passion from her early work at the United Nations to her role as trusted advisor and coach to Fortune 500 organizations.”

    “Meryl is passionate about bringing up the next generation of coaching.”

  • Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D., MCC (USA)


    • President of Covisioning LLC, training director for the Healthcare Coaching Institute at Virginia Tech, and on faculty for the International Coach Academy and Create China Coaching
    • Author of three books
      • Outsmart Your Brain
      • Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction
      • The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs
    • Has trained and coached leaders in 41 countries and presented at the Harvard Kennedy School, Cornell University, Smith College, Almaty Management University and The National Research University (Russia)
    • One of the first members of ICF
      • Served as ICF’s fifth president
      • Rejoined the ICF Global Board as a Director from 2017–2018
    • Past president of the Association for Coach Training Organizations
    • Interviews and book excerpts have appeared in publications including Harvard Communications Newsletter, Fast Company, The Globe and Mail, com, Psychology Today, and The Wall Street Journal
    • Designed the employee development program for a global company facing bankruptcy. Within three years, the company turned around and became a stock market success

    What Her Peers and Colleagues Say

    “As a highly visible coach, Marcia is aware that how she shows up—onstage or off—represents the professionalism of the ICF. Whether teaching, speaking, mentoring or coaching, she consciously models the ICF Code of Ethics with integrity.”

    “Marcia is respected as one of the most influential coaches in the world. She has been committed to global coaching for over 20 years. And yet she is always curious to learn the views of others, which creates even more respect from the diverse coaches and schools she works with.”

    “Marcia appreciates her global position as a coach educator with students by continually improving her own coaching skills. Doing so, she continually discovers and embraces the richness of diversity around the world.”

    “Marcia is a passionate advocate for exploring our judgments, biases and gaps so we can strive to be inclusive as we develop our excellence.”

    “She has a sincere commitment to excellence in her work and takes responsibility for her role as a global expert in coaching. Students who have graduated ours and other programs come back to work with her year after year because they always know they will learn something new.”

    “She listens to alternative viewpoints and welcomes feedback.”

  • Dave Wondra, PCC (USA)


    • Founder of WondraGroup, an Executive Coaching firm that helps leaders find the one thing that improves their ability to get results for themselves and their organizations
    • Clients include 3M, General Mills, Medtronic, Target Corporation, St. Jude Medical and Barr Engineering, which received the inaugural ICF Minnesota Prism Award in 2013
    • Past ICF Global Board Chair, ICF Foundation Board of Trustees President, ICF Global Board Director, and ICF Research and Education Committee member and vice chair
    • 2014 recipient of ICF Minnesota’s Gaston Award, in recognition of distinguished service to the chapter and the coaching profession
    • One of the first recipients of the Hudson Institute of Coaching’s Make a Difference Award
    • Author of articles on leadership, purpose and renewal, and a past adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas
    • Lifelong student of the trumpet

    What His Peers and Colleagues Say

    “Dave spends 10% of his time talking to folks about coaching. Whether talking to people interested in coaching as a career, speaking with his colleagues about their business or how coaching can help society … Dave gives his time without hesitation or fee. These conversations have ripples that reach out further and touch many people. He makes the profession better every day!”

    “Dave has a knack of making sure all people feel heard and respected. Although everyone cannot have their way … he makes sure that all views are heard.”

    “When looking at how Dave has developed, just like his personal passion for playing the trumpet, which requires continual practice, Dave promotes the need to continually work on coaches’ practice of coaching [and promotes] the need to understand that coaching is a business that needs to be worked on as well.”

    “As a Trustee and then President of the ICF Foundation, Dave was instrumental in bringing ICFF from a “startup” to a more mature foundation that began communicating and connecting more widely. It was a significant piece of work that required determination to move ICFF forward.”

    “The Dave Wondra I know puts people first. As you read his CV and review his achievements, what I see is someone who holds out his hand to anyone regardless of who they are or where they come from. … His work on the Board meant he was privileged to travel to other countries to promote ICF and coaching, and he did this with integrity and always respectfully and collaboratively. He also always acknowledged that privilege.”

    “He has been a tireless spokesperson for establishing the highest standards in coaching and collaborating with others to enlist resources to stretch the vision and reach of ICF and other groups.”

Past Inductees

  • 2018

    • Teri-E Belf, MCC (USA)
    • Judy Feld, MCC (USA)
    • Damian Goldvarg, Ph.D., MCC (Argentina/USA)
    • Keiko Hirano, MCC (Japan)
    • Patrick Williams, Ed.D., MCC (USA)
    • Beverley Alridge Wright, PCC (USA)

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