How the Humane Society Brought Executive Coaching Beyond the C-Suite

The nonprofit used Skillsoft Coaching to connect leaders at all levels with individualized development opportunities.


The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that advocates for animal protection – caring for animals across the country and worldwide. After several leadership changes in recent years, the organization was looking to bolster and drive its transformation efforts. Simultaneously, it was rolling out a new set of values to guide its mission moving forward.

To propagate those new values throughout the organization, the HSUS was designing a formal development program for leaders of all levels — but, in the meantime, the nonprofit’s leaders still needed support.

“It takes time and resources to build a new leadership development program, and we wanted to be thoughtful about how we did that,” says Stephanie Briggs, Senior Director of Talent Management and Culture at the Humane Society of the United States. “At the same time, our new leaders were hungry for guidance and coaching.”


The organization needed a fast, flexible, and scalable way to deliver high-quality development opportunities to leaders across the global organization. After exploring its options, the nonprofit landed on Skillsoft’s coaching program, a fully customizable platform that pairs participants with ICF-accredited executive-quality coaches and uses 360-degree reviews to solicit feedback from peers, direct reports, and managers.

“We saw Skillsoft Coaching as a way to provide immediate support to our leadership while we take the time to design and implement a more formal program,” says Briggs. “What was incredible was that, for the price of sending three or four individuals to a formal executive coach, we could put 40 of our leaders into Skillsoft’s program, where they receive individual and specific support through a virtual platform."

The scalability of Skillsoft Coaching also allowed the Human Resources team to avoid the risk of leaders developing negative opinions about coaching based on a perception that they were being singled out and offered coaching because based on performance. Instead, Briggs and her team were able to position Skillsoft Coaching as a clear benefit.

“When we initially got approval to move forward, we told the executive staff that we were bringing coaching to 40 leaders,” Briggs explains. “People were immediately interested in joining, so getting one of the licenses felt like getting a Golden Ticket rather than reprimanded.”

To maximize the impact, HSUS rolled out Skillsoft Coaching on a strategically staggered cadence: 10 licenses per quarter, focusing on leaders at the vice president (VP) and senior vice president (SVP) levels to start.

“If we launched every license at the same time, the same people would keep getting pinged to participate in 360-degree reviews, which could lead to survey fatigue,” Briggs says. “We wanted people to be thoughtful and intentional, and we didn’t want to be a drain on anyone’s time.”

Finally, to ensure that participants had individualized experiences that met their unique needs, Briggs and her team empowered them to set their own learning goals.

“We told participants to focus on just 2-3 areas of development that they felt were most impactful to them,” Briggs says. “For people to engage in a development process, they have to have some personal investment in the outcome. So, we asked leaders to prioritize the things that mattered to them."

“When we hear leaders talking about how people are changing their behaviors and their skills, that’s when I know we’re making a difference and that this platform is making a difference.”





Coaching session satisfaction rating



I know what I need to do in order to be successful in my role


I am actively focused on my personal professional development


I have the authority and support I need to succeed as a manager in this organization


“The feedback has been incredible,” Briggs says. “I don’t think many people get the benefit of having an executive coach in their career because the cost means it’s usually reserved for the C-suite. The fact that people received that coaching support has been really impactful for our leaders.”

In addition to positive feedback from the participants, other leaders and employees have noticed real improvements in the skills and competencies of their colleagues. During yearly calibration meetings, in which the organization’s leaders discuss performance standards for the whole nonprofit, conversations have focused on how employees have moved the needle.

“That has been the qualitative measure we were hoping for,” Briggs says. “We can look back and say, ‘At the end of 2022, this employee had challenges with XYZ. After going through Skillsoft coaching, they’ve hit the mark.”

The coaching program has garnered a positive reputation across the nonprofit, and employees at all levels are eager to join. Briggs and her colleagues are now exploring how to extend the next round of licenses to employees beyond the VP and SVP levels.


Has HSUS’s story inspired you? Learn how you can unleash your organization’s edge by working with Skillsoft.


The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and its affiliates work around the globe to protect wildlife, improve farm animal welfare, promote animal-free testing methods and end industries that exploit animals. Through its rescue, response and sanctuary work, as well as other direct services, the organization helps thousands of animals in need. The organization ne Society fights all forms of animal cruelty to achieve the vision behind its name: a humane society.