Coaching for Nonprofit Leaders

Based in Austin – Specialized in Empathy and Self-Compassion

Talking to Elly resets you

Elly has such an amazing spirit and a true love for others. I am in awe of her ability to make me feel safe and heard. Talking to Elly resets you. After every session I felt at peace, grounded and more like myself. I cannot imagine where I would be in my life’s journey without Elly. I am so grateful to have connected with her. She is such a gift.”

Maria Letzerich

Attorney-mediator, Forcepoint LLC, Austin

Extremely Insightful and Perceptive

I have been working with Elly for several months now. I find her to be extremely insightful and perceptive. She truly understands the theories and methods behind Nonviolent Communication. I always finish a session with Elly feeling more in control of both my emotions and my destiny. She’s a fantastic coach. I highly recommend her.”

Deanna Couras Goodson

Health and Wellness Coach, Self-employed, Austin


  • Master’s Degree in Political Science, from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. I specialized in Rational Choice Theory and Power Structures in West-African Countries. These methodologies helped me to look at organizations in terms of group dynamics, power distribution, and decision making processes.
  • One year PhD-course work at Free University Amsterdam, the Netherlands and research on the correlation between economic and political structures in West-African countries.
  • Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation.
  • Credentialed Mediator with the Texas Association of Mediators
  • 1400+ Hours with a dozen Nonviolent Communication trainers.


  • I worked for 10+ years as a staff member for different nonprofits, mainly as a coach. I worked with teams, staff, and people with mental health challenges.
  • In 2008, I started a freelance consulting business for nonprofits, with a focus on communication and collaboration issues.
  • I landed in Austin in 2009 and continued to build services available to clients.
  • The last four years I have focused on coaching nonprofit leaders develop their leadership skills and build effective teams.
  • My husband David Nayer and I have been co-facilitating two weekly Nonviolent Communication groups for the general audience since 2011. 600+ Practice meetings, some 300 participants, and workshops on mindful relationships, emotional liberation, self-compassion, and empathy.
  • I am on the Board of the Austin Association of Mediators, a volunteer mediator with the Austin Dispute Resolution Center, and a meditation teacher at Travis County Jail.


  • Appreciation of everything beautiful and masterful. Watching my husband David Nayer do insanely difficult juggling patterns.
  • I love the outdoor life: put me in shoes and I’ll start walking (mountains please), on a bike and I’ll start pedaling (within nine miles from home), camping, writing my blog in my yard, gardening.
  • And of course I love, love, love hanging out with all my precious ones: my hubbie, my siblings, my parents, friends, tante Els en oom Bert. Petting cats, walking dogs.
  • Sitting on my meditation cushion. Practicing mindfulness, accepting all the feelings and thoughts that arise. Going to my beloved Thich Nhat Hanh Plum Blossom Sangha. No attachment, no aversion, no delusion.
  • I have learned that thoughts and feelings pass like clouds in the sky and that obstacles can be overcome. Whenever I feel challenged, I can still feel touched by the beauty of a field of bluebonnets, openhearted, the curious smile of a child, the care and love from my family and friends, and from our Creator. And I fall right back in love with life again.
“I never dreamed the conflicts and arguments in my relationships could be overcome. I felt locked in a frustrating cycle of trying to talk, but seemingly always ending in an argument or worse: feeling emotionally disconnected. David and Elly have shown me a truth that has changed my life. Through their Nonviolent Communication teaching and loving compassion, I have learned how to listen for the first time. To hear others and in doing so open a world of peace and connection with those I care about most. NVC is so simple, but so effective.”
Harlan Hatter, Participant Nonviolent Communication practice group


Term 1: Collaboration

Our work is a collaborative process. You share your feelings, needs and wants. I share my knowledge, insights and experience. We are creative, resourceful, and whole. You don’t need my advice or evaluations. You need my listening, asking questions, so you become more aware of your dreams, values, underlying beliefs. We work together to explore how to learn, so you can be the leader you truly want to be. Win-win!

Term 2: Meet All Needs


I do whatever I can to contribute to you. And I trust that you do the same. We share our positive intentions and efforts, and accept our limitations. We practice being honest if we want something differently, and open to feedback. We work together to create an empathic and compassionate space, so you can experiment and you learn to be a better leader.

Immutable Laws

1. Compassion Reigns

I open my heart to the suffering of others and stretch myself to contribute and bring joy.

2. Empathy Works

I always try to understand the needs under each behavior, even ‘tragic expressions of unmet needs’.

3. Failure Applause

I am learning to celebrate all my failings (and gosh, there are so many of them!) as signs of expanding myself and taking on new and challenging things, not as a reflection of my self-worth. Yep, the growth mindset.

4. Gratitude Saves the Day

I am aware of how much I’ve been given to, even without asking: sun, life, my parents, siblings, food, safety. I practice generosity and share my riches with others.

5. Own My Stuff

I am responsible for how I am feeling and what I’m needing. I work on my Judge-Your-Neighbor sheets to transform blame of others into requests for help. I reflect on what I can do better myself, without shaming, blaming, or guilt tripping myself. (Failure applause really helps with that).

6. Pet Every Puppy and Kitten, Smile to Every Child

I cannot do great things, only small things with great love. Did you know that petting dogs and especially cats strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system? Great for relaxing.

Mutual Trust and Respect

"Power based on mutual trust and respect makes people open to hearing one another, learning from one another, and giving to one another willingly out of a desire to contribute to one another’s well-being, rather than out of a fear of punishment or hope for a reward.” Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication.

Mindfulness and Thich Nhat Hanh

How has Thich Nhat Hanh inspired me? Oh gosh, where do I start? So much! His teachings have completely transformed my way of looking at our humanity. I remember him telling about trying to hammer a nail in the wall to hang a painting. His right hand accidentally hits his left thumb. But his left hand doesn’t grab the hammer and hits the right hand back in retaliation. Or blames and criticizes the right hand for being so clumsy, stupid, morone. Nor does his right hand tell his left hand to stop whining and man up. Or apologize frantically.

Nope. His right hand immediately comes to the rescue to nurture his left hand. Why? Because they see that they are part of the whole, they see their interdependence. They see that the happiness and suffering of the left and the right hand are interconnected.

When I look at my fellow beings, this insight helps me to transform judgments and withdrawal into compassionate curiosity: “How can I help?”

Nonviolent Communication and Marshall Rosenberg

Marshall Rosenberg has an incredible amount of insights that I find super helpful to build positive relationships. Reflect, before react. See the beautiful, precious, human needs in every thought, word, or action. Even in tragic expressions of unmet needs. Feelings arise from our thoughts and our needs being met or unmet. What others are doing is never the cause of our feelings, at most the stimulus. Emotional slavery, emotional obnoxiousness, emotional liberation.

After 11 years of study and practice, I still find something new and fresh in Nonviolent Communication every day.


And then there is love. This tender, sometimes raw feeling of love. For ourselves, For our brothers and sisters. For future generations. For animals. Plants. Our planet. For our higher power. From our higher power. Love that inspires us to relieve suffering and bring joy. What a blessing to nurture love in this world.


I am forever grateful that my parents, grandparents, and their ancestors infused me with compassion. My grandfather took a stand for justice, compassion and inclusion when the Netherlands were occupied by the Nazis and lost his life because of it. My parents open their hearts and doors to anyone needing help: mental health patients, former inmates, people with intellectual disabilities, foreign students.

And my parents are adamant at bringing joy and celebration. They are the most open and interested people I know, at 83 and 85 making friends wherever they go.

I feel super excited to continue my lineage. Whether it is hand painting birthday cards, writing for Amnesty International, listening to my sister, or supporting a client live up to their potential: bringing the tools of compassion and joy make my life so much more wonderful and rich.