Who We Are

think2perform RESEARCH INSTITUTE (t2pRI) advances moral, purposeful, and emotionally intelligent leadership to inspire and engage current and emerging leaders. t2pRI’s guiding principles include valuing and developing ALL people. The RESEARCH INSTITUTE believes that when people are treated well, they perform more productively and experience greater satisfaction. It conducts research, provides open access to findings, and provides practical application seminars based on these findings.

By funding and sharing research about moral, purposeful, and emotionally intelligent leadership, think2perform RESEARCH INSTITUTE has the platform to elevate the effectiveness of leaders around the world.

When there is a surplus of exceptional leadership, our organizations, families, and communities can flourish.


think2perform RESEARCH INSTITUTE (t2pRI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. We fund research, publications, and ultimately, skill development and mentoring of today’s and tomorrow’s leaders. Better leaders, employees, and workplaces start here. Learn more about our mission, our research, our fellowship programs, and our Future Leaders Academy.  Our Blog is another great resource for keeping up to date on our fellowships, research outcomes, the Future Leaders Academy, and all program-related developments.

We are funded thanks to the generosity of individual donors committed to advancing better leadership in our world.

Learn more about t2pRI in our Annual Reports: 2023 | 2022

Brian Hammer, PhD, Executive Director

Brian brings to this role a wealth of experience working in global education and developing experiential programs grounded in a commitment to ethics, intercultural learning and building the foundation for a more equitable world, one student at a time and one interaction at a time.

As Executive Director, Brian teams with our committed board members and partners at this important time in which ethical, moral and emotionally intelligent leadership is broadly recognized as one of the world’s greatest collective needs. In addition to serving as spokesperson for the organization and leading  fundraising activities, Brian dedicates significant time to supporting and attracting world-class research fellows and to the Future Leaders Academy which seeks to augment the leadership skills and talents of high school and college-aged youth from low-income and underrepresented communities in the state of Minnesota.

Brian earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in human geography from the University of Washington in Seattle, his A.B. in Chinese and International Development from Washington University in Saint Louis, and a Certificate in Chinese Studies from the The Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China. Brian’s understanding of effective leadership is deeply influenced by his time studying and/or working in Saint Louis, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Houston, and Vermont, in addition to learning languages and living/studying/working in the culturally vibrant, dynamic cities of Nanjing, Harbin, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, and Hanoi. His most recent position involved collaborating with partners and colleagues throughout the Asia Pacific region on interdisciplinary, experiential learning programs focused on developing self-awareness and cultural humility as the foundation for understanding and seeking respectful, inclusive solutions to critical global issues.

Brian’s passions for building relationships, thinking critically about accepted categories and practices, and creating the foundation for systemic change inform his daily life.  You’ll often find Brian walking his Scottish terrier in Minneapolis’ Harrison neighborhood, where he’s active an active nonprofit board member, photographer, and pollinator and edible gardener. Brian joined think2perform Research Institute in 2021.

bio-Valerie BurkeValerie Burke – Board Member

Driven by her purpose to create connections so communities in relationships can flourish, Valerie Burke brings her expertise and passion to think2perform Research Institute’s board of directors.

Valerie retired from the Edina Public Schools in June 2022, where she served as Director of Community Education and Strategic Partnerships. For more than a decade, Valerie provided innovative leadership in the development, implementation and evaluation of programs and services in the areas of early childhood programming, family involvement, youth programs, volunteer services, enrichment programs, and adult learning. Her prior role was as the Edina Resource Center and Community Volunteer Program Coordinator. Valerie received her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of St. Thomas in 2005.

With her extensive background and values of family, education, relationships, cooperation and service, Valerie is well suited to influence the growth of t2pRI, especially the Future Leaders Academy. In addition to benefiting from her partnership-building skills, t2pRI embodies Valerie’s informed perspective on learning, leadership, and young people. “Almost every student really wants to be a part of their community and impact their community,” says Valerie. “We really need to think about them as individuals and help cultivate the ideas they want to share in the ways they want to be involved.”

bio-ryangoulartRyan Goulart – Board Chair

Ryan Goulart brings to think2perform first-hand knowledge and experience from the Millennial Generation under 30 years of age, an emerging, key stakeholder to leaders and their organizations.  As Business Development and Research Associate, Ryan begins by gathering and assessing available data from clients, then blends into that data think2perform’s proprietary analysis of research into similar clients, as well as research from social media and other public sources.  All to assist think2perform in developing tools or programs that effectively engage audiences to meet client needs.

“Men and women in their 20s are evolving their values system and have differing views of work-life balance,” Ryan says.  “For organizations to grow and prosper in the years ahead, leaders have a special challenge and obligation to connect well with younger colleagues today.”

Ryan joined think2perform in 2010 as an expert on how the brain influences behavior, following completion of his B.S. degree in Neuroscience from Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. In addition to his work on behalf of clients, Ryan also tracks evolving workplace and leadership trends in support of think2perform’s marketing to new clients.   He lives in Minneapolis.

bio-jacquelinejohnsonJacqueline R. Johnson – Board Member

Jacqueline R. Johnson served as the fifth, and the first female, chancellor of the University of Minnesota Morris.  Under her leadership, the campus increased enrollment; grew its endowment; improved facilities, including the addition of two Leadership in Energy, Efficiency and Design (LEED) Gold buildings;  and established itself as a national leader in renewable energy and sustainability. 

Johnson came to UMM in 2006 from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, where she served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. Previously, she served as vice president for academic affairs at St. Martin’s College in Washington and as chair of the department of anthropology and sociology at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Johnson holds a doctorate in sociology from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College, St. Paul.

Her research interests center on issues related to gender and identity, and her methodology includes the use of children’s art work in cross cultural settings to explore their construction of national and political identity.  She has served and held leadership positions on a number of local, state and national boards, including Minnesota Campus Compact, Pioneer Public Television, the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment steering committee, and the board of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a national organization which she chaired in 2014.  With her colleagues and University of Minnesota, Morris, students, she has led her institution for ten years in its efforts to create an inclusive residential living and learning community for undergraduates–dedicated to civic engagement, global citizenship, intellectual development, and environmental stewardship.

Mary S. Jones – Board Member & Development Committee Chair

Mary joined the Goodwill-Easter Seals Foundation in June of 2017, and serves as the organization’s Chief Philanthropy Officer, with responsibility for development for Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota overall, and leading the philanthropic growth of the Foundation.

She came to the Goodwill-Easter Seals Foundation from the YWCA of Minneapolis, where over eight years she served as Chief Advancement Officer, Chief Advancement and Program Officer, and interim CEO.

Mary has held leadership roles in the non-profit sector for more than 25 years. She came to the YWCA from the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation, where she was Senior Development Director. Her experience includes positions as executive director, marketing and development director for arts, human services and health care organizations.

Mary’s community involvement has included service on boards of a number of civic, arts and social justice organizations, including serving as chairwoman of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits; and board member of the Duluth YWCA.

bio-douglennickDoug Lennick – Board Member

Doug Lennick is CEO and co-founder of Think2Perform. He is legendary for his innovative approaches to developing high performance in individuals and organizations and is an expert at developing practical applications of the art and science of human behavior, financial and otherwise.

Before founding Think2Perform, Doug, a certified financial planner (CFP) and behavioral financial advisor (BFA), was Executive Vice President – Advice and Retail Distribution for American Express Financial Advisors (now Ameriprise Financial). In that capacity he led an organization of 17,000 field and corporate associates to unprecedented success.

Doug is a prolific author on the topics of leadership, emotional competence, and financial intelligence. Doug and Fred Kiel, Ph.D. wrote Moral Intelligence and Moral Intelligence 2.0: Enhancing Business Performance and Leadership Success in Turbulent Times. He is the sole author of The Simple Genius (You) and Financial Intelligence: How to Make Smart, Values-Based Decisions with Your Money and Your Life. Doug is co-author with Roy Geer, Ph.D. on How to Get What You Want and Remain True to Yourself. He teamed up with Ryan Goulart on Leveraging Your Financial Intelligence: At the Intersection of Money, Health, and Happiness. Doug is currently collaborating with his colleague Chuck Wachendorfer on a new book about leadership which is scheduled to be released in 2021.

Doug is in high demand as a keynote speaker as well as an executive and organizational advisor. He has been quoted and referenced in many publications and books, including Daniel Goleman’s seminal book, Working with Emotional Intelligence and Richard Leider’s bestselling Power of Purpose.

In November 2000, Doug was honored by Columbia University’s Center for Social and Emotional Education and is a Fellow at the Carlson Executive Development Center, Carlson School of Management, and University of Minnesota. He is also a member of the prestigious Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.

Doug and his wife, Beth Ann, reside in Edina, Minnesota. He is the proud father of three adult children.

Don MacPherson – Board Member & Secretary

Don is host of 12 Geniuses – a podcast for curious and voracious learners. A five-time entrepreneur, Don spent 25 years researching the employee and customer experiences, the attributes of great leadership, and how healthy organizational cultures are created and sustained. Now, Don interviews geniuses from around the world about the trends shaping the way we live and work. Don uses these insights to help business leaders better understand what these trends are, how they are positioned to disrupt companies and industries, and how new value can be created for those willing to make the necessary changes.

An avid traveler and volunteer, Don has visited every corner of the world and been a Big Brother mentor for more than 20 years. He is the former executive director of think2perform RESEARCH INSTITUTE who helped create the Future Leaders Academy. Don is a board member of Leadership Garden, an organization that helps young people develop the life skills needed to make a positive difference in their community. He is also a board member for Harmony Foundation, a drug and alcohol addiction facility in Estes Park, Colorado.

David Magy – Board Member

David is an expert in retained search, corporate recruitment, and workforce consulting. His depth of knowledge is outstanding; he’s been in the field for 30 years. David is a nationally recognized speaker and blogs on matters related to search, staffing, and ethics.

David has worked extensively designing staffing systems for human resources, from both consulting and corporate perspectives. David’s impressive grasp of organizations and human capital needs strengthened in the human resource departments of Fortune 500 companies: Honeywell and Pillsbury Company (acquired by General Mills), and Farm Credit Services of Saint Paul as well.

David established Abeln, Magy, Underberg & Associates as a respected partner in recruiting key talent within a large array of business: family owned, non-profit, high technology, food related, manufacturing, and multi-national corporations.

David is very active in the community. As a “friend of the board” within three non-profit organizations, he’s busy with special projects such as assuring a safe and secure environment, working with youth camps and cleaning up from natural disasters. He is married to a (recently retired) fire fighter and has three children and three grandchildren. David enjoys many diverse hobbies and pursuits (he likes to collect experiences) – from martial arts to sports cars.

Kris Petersen – Board Member

Kris Petersen is a consultant and coach with Think2Perform.

Kris has a track record and a passion for developing the leadership potential in others, and brings this to her consulting work with clients of Think2Perform. She works with business and non-profit leaders who want to increase their leadership effectiveness and productivity and she has a great deal of experience and success working with financial advisors who want deeper and more productive relationships with their clients.

Her approach to working with her clients involves listening and understanding what their goals and objectives are and helping them get at what is stopping them from achieving them, whether it is a business, staff or leadership issue or some combination of these. Kris has the unique ability to offer business and leadership consulting and coaching for her clients at the same time.

Kris has an impressive track record as a financial services executive with over 27 years experience with Ameriprise Financial and American Express, US Bank, Marquette Financial Services, Green Tree Acceptance, First Trust Company and First American National Bank.

While at Ameriprise Financial, she led and transformed many business lines including Brokerage, Cash Management, Wrap Programs, Non- proprietary Products and the company’s value proposition, Financial Planning and Advice.

Kris’s broad experience includes strategy development and execution, product development and management, marketing, sales training and support, software development and support, operations, and legal and compliance.

Kris has a BA in Finance from St. Cloud State University, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. She has been active in non-profit leadership, including the Board of Directors of the YWCA of Minneapolis, the Foundation for Financial Planning, the Professional Association of Treatment Homes, Hennepin Healthcare Systems, and the Ann Bancroft Foundation.

Kris resides in Minneapolis, and spends her free time volunteering at her favorite charities, spending time with friends and family, throwing pottery, reading and running.

Patrick Riley – Board Member & Treasurer

Patrick is a technology entrepreneur and film producer. Patrick is co-founder of Riley Harder Pictures, and he recently produced Cue the Strings: A Film about Low and the critically acclaimed period drama TUSCALOOSA starring Natalia Dyer (Stranger Things), Tate Donovan (Argo), and Devon Bostick (Okja).

When not producing feature films, Patrick is a growth consultant for the next generation of Minnesota technology startups and an advisor for two early-stage venture capital funds: Great North Labs & Gener8tor.

Patrick was CEO and co-founder of Modern Survey, an industry leading employee engagement and talent analytics company which was acquired by Aon in 2016.

Patrick holds a BS in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Buffy Smith – Board Member

Buffy Smith, Ph.D. is a sociologist, educator, and consultant. She is the Dean of Dougherty Family College and Professor of Sociology at the University of St. Thomas. She earned her B.A. in Sociology at Marquette University and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Smith’s primary research interests include examining racial and class disparities within the higher education system. She also writes on policy issues dealing with mentoring, access, retention, equity, and diversity in higher education. She has over 15 years of experience researching how colleges and universities can assist underserved students with understanding and navigating the institutional culture of higher education in order to achieve academic success.

Dr. Smith has received several awards and grants that recognize her research on diversity issues in higher education. Dr. Smith’s publications include book chapters and articles featured in research and practice oriented journals such as African–American Research Perspectives and Equity & Excellence in Education. In addition, she is the author of the book, Mentoring At-Risk Students through the Hidden Curriculum of Higher Education.

Colton Wieck – Board Member

Colton Wieck has spent the past decade working in the investment industry, serving in a variety of roles for both non-profit & for-profit organizations. He currently works within the Private Markets space in the Minneapolis area and formerly helped to manage the investment portfolio for a community foundation in Chicago.

He has both experience and a passion for strategy development & implementation, community-based problem solving, leadership training, and building relationships. All of which he brings to his role as a board member and development committee member for the Think2Perform Research Institute.

Colton has a BSBA in Financial Analysis & Economics from Creighton University and currently resides in Minneapolis, where he spends his free time enjoying the outdoors, hiking, skiing, & spending time with friends and family.

bio-richardleiderRichard J. Leider – Special Advisor

Richard Leider is the founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, a firm created to guide individuals to live, work, and lead on purpose.  He is ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top 5” most respected coaches and is a contributing author to many coaching books.  He is one of a select few coaches who have been invited to work with over 100,000 leaders from over 100 organizations such as AARP, Ameriprise, Ericsson, Habitat for Humanity, Mayo Clinic, Jackson Financial, National Football League, United Health Group, Sharecare, and the U.S. Dept of State.

Along the way, Richard has written eleven books, including three best sellers, which have sold over one million copies and have been translated into 20 languages.  Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose are considered classics in the personal growth field.  His latest book, Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old? makes the case for a new kind of elderhood and the value of purposeful aging.

Richard holds a master’s degree in Counseling and is a National Certified Counselor, and a National Certified Master Career Counselor.  His work has been recognized with many awards including a Bush Fellowship from the Bush Foundation, and the Outstanding Scholar for Creative Longevity and Wisdom award from the Fielding Institute.

Richard is a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s acclaimed Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing and is a Public Fellow at the Notre Dame Institute of Advanced Study where he also partners with their Inspired Leadership Initiative and the Office of the Provost.

For over 30 years, he has led Inventure Expedition walking safaris in Tanzania, where he is on the board of the Dorobo Fund for Tanzania.

During his career, Richard has addressed more than two million people worldwide in his speeches to corporate, association, and social service groups.  He and his wife, Sally, live in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area.

In Memorium – t2pRI Special Advisor Fred Kiel, PhD (1940-2022)

Fred served as Special Advisor to think2perform RESEARCH INSTITUTE since its founding until his passing in 2022. Read Doug Lennick’s reflection on Fred, his leadership, and their friendship here.

For more than thirty years, Fred guided Fortune 500 companies in their journey to accelerate business success through principled leadership. The foundation of KRW International’s model is a rigorous data-gathering and customized development process designed to provide transformative insight and growth.

Fred was co-founder of KRW International, co-author of the influential book, Moral Intelligence 2.0 (2011, Financial Times Press), and a speaker of the popular TEDxTalk, “Psychopaths in the C-Suite.”

Fred believed in a world where leadership character is fundamental to business education programs and performance evaluation processes . . . a world where “who” a leader is receives as much attention as “what” the leader is trained to do, because it results in greater value for all.

In Return on Character (2015, Harvard Business Review Press), Fred Kiel, Ph.D., and the KRW Research Institute share the first hard evidence linking the character of senior leadership to profitability. Their groundbreaking work is raising the bar on expectations around both individual and organizational performance.

In a seven-year study of executive teams at Fortune 500 companies, privately held firms, and nonprofits, Fred and team showed how a CEO and senior leadership team’s character impacts the bottom line (nearly 5x greater returns), reduces risk, and engages the workforce (26% greater level of workforce engagement).

Executive teams and corporate boards worldwide are now leveraging the predictive analytic tools that have evolved from this research.

Recent Publications and Presentations

  • Harvard Business Review. “Measuring the Return on Character.” April 2015.
  • Forbes. “Why Investors Rank New Businesses By Leader Quality.” April 2015.
  • CNBC Squawk Box. “CEO Character: Key to the Bottom Line.” May 2015.
  • NPR Marketplace. “Why So Many Bosses are Jerks.” December 2015.