Energizing Family Philanthropy

  • Are you hoping to have a greater impact with your philanthropy?
  • Would you like to better align your giving with your values?
  • Do you want to get involved in solving a problem in the community or the world, but are not quite sure where to start?

Amy Holdsman created Essential Leadership to coach and inspire individuals and families through an inward examination of their values, strengths, and motivations, and an outward exploration of the community and the world at large. She guides people on their learning journey and enhances their connections to self, family, and community.

A seasoned professional in grant making, philanthropic governance, coaching, and family dynamics, Amy has the experience and knowledge to help her clients identify where and how they can have the most impact and develop of plan of action for purposeful engagement.

Amy Holdsman

President and CEO, Essential Leadership, LLC

  • 25+ years of philanthropic executive leadership experience in Greater Philadelphia
  • 5+ years as Executive Director for family foundation funding $13 million in grants annually
  • 10+ years as chief executive for leading education nonprofit organization
  • Wharton School lecturer
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF)
  • Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) with the American College of Financial Services
  • 21/64 Advisor in Multigenerational Philanthropy
  • Certification in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) with The Flourishing Center

Learn more about Amy »

learn how amy can help discover your voice, vision, and values

Customized process

Amy guides individuals and families to align their charitable investments and community work with their voice, vision, and values to make an impact now and into the future. The process is custom-tailored to each client to answer four key questions:

What's important to me?

We begin by looking inward, clarifying what matters most to you and identifying the values that drive your purpose and meaning in community involvement.


What are my strengths?

We will use inventory assessments to determine your strengths and also determine areas to develop for increased effectiveness.

Where do I want to make an impact?

Then we look outward, exploring the landscape of local, national, or global issues and how they might be addressed, and identifying potential causes and organizations that are making a difference.

How do I engage?

Having answered these three questions, we create a unique plan for purposeful engagement, meaningful service, and fulfilling philanthropy.

The process begins with a conversation

Clients include

  • Multigenerational families starting or ramping up their family philanthropy with a desire to include and/or transition philanthropic activities and engagement to the next generation
  • First generation philanthropists who have an interest in educating themselves and the next generation about high impact philanthropy
  • Next Gen donors who want to preserve legacy as well as blaze their own trail and engage in order to have maximum impact with their lives, in the community and in the world at large
  • Social impact visionaries who are passionate about increasing and expanding their involvement in advocacy and/community initiatives
  • Millennial earners who want a hands on approach to making a social impact with their time, talent, treasure and ties; and who are driven by the greater good
  • Individuals who are in search of a pathway to purpose and meaning via connecting to a cause and/or an organization in the community

What clients are saying about Essential Leadership

“I found Amy at a time when I was trying to figure out how to become more effective with the causes that mattered most to me. Amy helped me gain clarity about my personal strengths and attributes to contribute to my fullest. Her guidance helped me to pare back some lower priority commitments, rid some self-doubt and noise, and step into greater leadership roles with the organizations that truly speak to my heart. I would recommend Amy’s unique coaching approach to people who deep down know that they can and must pursue positive change in this troubled world. I now live a life where I know I make a positive impact. I can never thank her enough.”

— Laurie Franz
President, Five Together Foundation

“As our family has grown, so has our small family foundation.  Now composed of second and third generation members, we recognized the need to codify elements of governance and undertake succession planning.  We engaged Amy to lead us through this process, and we couldn’t be more pleased with both the process and the outcome.  She asked the right questions, honored everyone’s input, and designed clear frameworks for guidance.”

— Ellen Milgrim, Executive Director, The Tioga Foundation

“I have had the privilege of working with Amy for the past five years, during which time she has been an effective and loyal colleague in helping to build and execute my vision for philanthropy. This vision represents the values and legacy of my life, which Amy intuitively understands and embraces.”

— James J. Maguire, 
Founder and Chairman, Maguire Foundation

“I was at a critical point in my life and I was in search of meaningful engagement. I had been approached by multiple people and nonprofit organizations seeking my time and financial resources. I first needed to clarify what mattered most to me. I needed to clear my plate of the obligations no longer of real priority, and immerse more deeply in the causes that truly inspired me. Amy was a competent guide and friend during this process. Her knowledge of the philanthropic landscape as well as her insight and compassion for the process of self-discovery and community engagement were unique and incredibly valuable. As a result, I have stepped more fully into my power as an effective leader.”

— Donna Brooks, Board Member, Minding Your Mind

develop your own plan for purposeful engagement and meaningful giving