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Esther Grisham Grimm



Chicago, Illinois
Central Time Zone (UTC​−06:00)

I will gladly meet virtually or in person and prefer weekdays from 7:30am to 6:00pm, but can be flexible if my schedule allows.


I am a coach-in-training with the National Arts Strategies’ Leadership Coaching Training Program, on my way to becoming certified through the International Coach Federation. Coaching is a natural offshoot of my career in the arts, which spans museum education, arts education, social justice, advocacy, and philanthropy.

In addition to coaching, I am the Executive Director of 3Arts, a nonprofit grantmaking organization that supports women-identified artists, artists of color, and Deaf and disabled artists working in the performing, teaching, and visual arts in the Chicago area. I am driven by the conviction that arts leaders and artists have the ability to point humanity in the right direction, or, as Toni Cade Bambara put it, that “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.”

I have worked in, learned from, and advocated for the arts for decades. In a pivotal moment in my career, I had the great fortune of re-inventing and rebuilding our 109-year-old organization from the ground up. That transformation included creating a grantmaking mission centered on gender, racial, and disability justice; designing unprecedented artist-centric programs; developing the Board of Directors and fundraising efforts; and establishing organizational policies and procedures—and everything in between. With a commitment to advocating for our field, I serve on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Cultural Advisory Council and am the immediate past Chair of the Alliance of Artists Communities.

This experience dovetails with my coaching practice as I help clients define and navigate evolution in themselves and their organizations while strengthening their visionary work in the world. My own work as a coach begins with your goals and passions, progresses through an inquiry-based exploration and discovery process, and culminates in actions and insights that lead to the results you seek.

My belief that arts and culture are essential to the endurance and soul of our planet fuels my work as a coach with an emphasis on supporting both established and emerging leaders and advocates who are propelling transformation(s). The interrelated personal and professional growth and wellbeing of my clients are paramount. I know from my own experience that change doesn’t always come easily and that the voyage can sometimes be stormy. Working with you to
co-create a way through those storms—or even just a cloudy day—is my mission as a coach.

“I wanted to make a shift in my life. I was stuck. And frustrated as heck. When I sought out coaching from Esther, I didn’t
know what I was asking exactly. What Esther did was to help me to see who I am and what I want. She gave credence to my own thought process. Her gentle reflection, kind validation, deep listening and unconditional positive regard pushed me out of a self-defeating cycle. And onto a path that is clearer and more directed. I am so grateful to her and give her my highest recommendation, no matter where you are in your process of building a better life.” -S.M.