Brenda has a passion for helping leaders solve complex challenges by developing practices that enable them to understand system influences, find leverage points, and engage their insight, wisdom, and ability to lead effectively in team settings. She is also keenly interested in how leadership impacts our sense of purpose, meaning, and contribution, the practices that empower and equip professionals to be at their best, and how we can teach those practices to new generations of leaders.
Brenda has served for 25 years in leadership roles as a lawyer, nonprofit executive, pastor, and community builder. She began her career as a lawyer with Faegre Baker Daniels in Indianapolis, where she practiced law for eleven years in corporate insurance, benefits, and human resources. She then took a break from the practice of law to study theology at Christian Theological Seminary, serving as a pastor in the United Methodist Church, and work with local nonprofit organizations.
After eight years of working in the community and consulting with the Lilly Endowment, she returned to CTS to serve on the executive leadership team where she wore a variety of leadership hats, including innovative programming, recruiting, and leadership development. While back at CTS, Brenda completed a yoga, spirituality, and wellness certification and became a certified leadership coach.
Brenda now coaches leaders and consults with nonprofit and social-enterprise clients while working on Ph.D. in public problem-solving, which focuses on how leaders understand complex problems, work collaboratively across sectors, and build successful public-private partnerships to achieve desired goals. She also serves on a variety of nonprofit boards and recently took on the role of CEO for the Rethink Coalition, a nonprofit in Indianapolis focused on the impact of highway infrastructure on health, equity, and economic wellbeing. Brenda has taught courses at the graduate level in social innovation, creativity, design, and vocation.
Outside of work, Brenda enjoys family time with her husband, Dick Freije, Jr., and five kids: two sons, two stepsons, and a daughter. She also enjoys worship leading, songwriting, playing tennis for fun, reading (anything she can find on leadership, wellness, and human development), great food, and practicing yoga as a spiritual and wellness discipline. Brenda is certified by the International Coaching Federation and holds a certification in Core Energy Leadership.
“Leadership today involves dealing with a level of complexity, volatility, and uncertainty never before imagined by our foremothers and fathers. As technology increases and our world becomes smaller, the pace of change will only increase. We need more and more leaders who are catalytic, able to lead well from wherever they are, while having the wisdom, creativity, and nimbleness to address complex challenges and adapt to ever-changing contexts.”