About Amy Holdsman

President and CEO, Essential Leadership, LLC

“What fills me with hope is the thought of what will come if each of us reflects on what we can offer.

-MacKenzie Scott

Amy is a trusted leadership coach and philanthropic advisor who guides her clients to explore their values, build on their strengths, and make strategic investments that benefit their communities and the world at large. She coaches individuals and families as they are establishing or refining family foundations and/or involving next generation in philanthropic activities. She is especially interested in helping next generation of philanthropists and activists who are thinking ahead about their legacy and want to have an impact now.

Amy has served in executive leadership positions in the Greater Philadelphia philanthropic arena for over two decades. She has extensive experience in leadership coaching, nonprofit management and philanthropic investing, strategic planning, change management, social entrepreneurship, and board development.

“I had the privilege of working with Amy for five years, during which time she was 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

For five years, Amy served as Executive Director of the Maguire Foundation where she not only oversaw grant-making and administration of over $13 million annually, but also built and executed the founder’s vision for his legacy and philanthropy. She served as coach, counsel, and confidante to turn vision into reality.

Previously, Amy was Executive Director of the White-Williams Scholars and the Charles E. Ellis Grant and Scholarship Fund for more than a decade. During her tenure, she led the organization’s growth and transformation from an individual scholarship granter to a holistic service provider focused on meeting students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.


Amy is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®), a 21/64 Certified Advisor in Multigenerational Philanthropy, a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation (ICF) and holds a Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology through The Flourishing Center. She is a Wharton Lecturer on Business Communication for Impact. Amy’s recent speaking engagements have focused on topics including “Passion and Purpose: Making the Change You Want to See in the World”, “Navigating Difficult Conversations in Philanthropy”, “Using Tools to Create a Vision for Your Philanthropy” and “Engaging with Purpose- Identifying and Using the Four T’s”.  She is currently immersed in the study of Family Systems at the Council for Relationships and the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family at Georgetown University. 

Amy serves on the Advisory Committee of Our Closet and is an active member of Impact100, a women’s giving collective. She is the past Board Chair of Philabundance, and a past board member of The Farmers Market Trust (now the Food Trust) and Congregation Rodeph Shalom. Amy actively mentors young women on college access formally (in the past through Mighty Writers and Philadelphia Futures) and informally. She proudly serves as the pronouncer for the annual Philadelphia Tribune Spelling Bee which selects a winner to compete in Washington, D.C. at the National Scripps Howard Spelling Bee. Amy is the recipient of the 2018 Give Back Award at the Baird Women’s Lifestyle Conference.

Amy has also served as Director of Program and Placement for seven years at Leadership Philadelphia where she counseled hundreds of executives from business, government, and the non-profit sector and matched them with non-profit organizations on boards of directors.

Amy is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200), trained with an intention to deepen her own practice and share the benefits of yoga and mindfulness with her family and communities who do not ordinarily have access to it. She lives in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia with her husband and is a fan of the nearby Wissahickon woods where she is walked daily by her three dogs: Raffi (a certified therapy dog), Rosie, and Reece. They have two sons, Greg (24) and Danny (22).


holdsman family with dogs


The process begins with a conversation