Hand-picked with great intentionality, the Strive Team is made up of incredibly passionate and forward-thinking leaders who boast extensive experience in their respective industries.
Driven by their dedication, each member of our team strives to further the organization's mission and live out Strive's core values.
Belle Koclanes returns to Strive following an 18-year Division I collegiate women’s basketball coaching career, including assistant coaching roles at Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Old Dominion University, American University, and most recently, head coach at Dartmouth College. She attributes the inspiration for her career choice to her experience as a Sports Challenge Leadership Academy Coach in the summer of 2002. At Sports Challenge, Belle realized that she loved the challenge of leading a diverse group of people along a journey of individual and collective development.
For the past eight years at Dartmouth, Belle and her assistants created a competitive and collaborative culture that focused on the core values of Respect, Attitude and Preparation. She taught her teams to embrace a direct, open, honest, transparent and inclusive communication style and intentionally devoted significant time to mental wellness and social justice education. Her Mentor-Mentee program, adopted from the Sports Challenge model, was a best practice for her players and staff to build authentic relationships and proactively provide support for each student-athlete’s experience.
Throughout her entire professional career, Belle has stayed connected to Strive by referring her players to serve as Sports Challenge coaches each summer. This shared experience over the years has built a strong branch of the Strive Family Tree that traces to Coach Belle at its root. Her passion for leadership development and the game of basketball has been shared with many.
Belle’s academic background effectively aligns with Strive’s mission, as she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies from the University of Richmond and a Master of Arts in Culture and Communication from New York University. She brings her knowledge and experience in program development, curriculum design and organizational leadership to her role at Strive.
During her playing career at the University of Richmond (1998-2002), Belle was an All-America Nominee, Naismith Award Candidate and still holds the school record for assists (793). She went on to play professionally in Greece as a member of Panserraikos and in 2018 was inducted into the Order of AHEPA’s Hellenic Athletics Hall of Fame.
A native of Pelham, NY, Belle grew up in a big, tight-knit Greek-Italian family. She is one of five siblings - three sisters and a brother, all of whom are either coaches or teachers. Her parents are the greatest examples of character-driven leadership and taught her how to lead with unconditional love at its core.
Belle now lives in Media, PA with her wife Jill, who is way more competitive than Belle will ever be, and daughter Riley Harper.
Say hello! Belle@striveleadership.org
Linda joined the Strive team full-time in December 2016. Her affiliation with the organization runs deep; as a student-athlete she attended the summer academy in the summer of 2005, and returned in a coaching capacity in 2010. She then went on to Co-Direct the girls soccer program for six years. Linda was also one of the inaugural National Coach Institute attendees, as well as a participant in many Strive leadership workshops. Schirmiester-Gess comes to Strive after an eight year college coaching career, most recently at Emory & Henry College (E&H), in Emory, VA.
During her time as a college soccer coach, Schirmiester-Gess also taught multiple leadership classes and and facilitated workshops within the institutions for whom she worked. These include semester long servant leadership based study abroad programs to South Africa, Guatemala, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally Schirmiester-Gess has been the keynote speaker, focusing on leadership development, at numerous events such as the Virginia Association of College Housing Conference (VACUHO), the E&H Honors Retreat, Wasp Welcome Orientation and the Emory & Henry Bridge Program. In the Spring of 2016 Linda spoke and addressed the leadership crises we are currently facing in society on the TedX stage at E&H.
Linda was a four year scholarship athlete at Slippery Rock University, where she earned a BS in Psychology in 2010. Inspired by her college coach and her Sports Challenge mentors, Linda developed a true passion for coaching, character development, and leadership education. This fueled her to pursue her Masters in Recreation & Sport Sciences with a concentration in Soccer Coaching through Ohio University in 2016. Linda resides in Wilmington, DE with her husband Michael, daughter Addison-Oakleigh, and their dog Zola.
Say hello! Linda@striveleadership.org
Krista joined Strive, full-time in June 2018, shortly after graduating with her Masters of Social Work from the School of Social Policy and Practice at University of Pennsylvania. She originally joined the Strive team in 2016 and stayed involved with the organization throughout her time in graduate school.
She spent the first year of her social work program interning at Walter Biddle Saul High School and her second year at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania’s Homeless Health Initiative. As a social worker, it is fitting that her favorite “Strive competency” is empathy, and that she often reminds her Strive team, as well as friends and family, to practice self-care.
Krista grew up in the Wilmington area and was a “lifer” at Sanford School, where she played Varsity tennis. At the age of four she started dancing at American Dance Academy, and at age twelve she became an original member of the studio’s competition team. She continued dancing at Muhlenberg College, graduating with a BA in Dance and English. As a member of the Muhlenberg Dance Association, she served as secretary of the board, danced in and choreographed for multiple concerts, performed in a community outreach improvisation group, and was selected by Muhlenberg staff to show her choreography at the American College Dance Festival.
After college she worked at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, starting as a dance specialist. During her three years there, she gained experience both in direct service and administrative work. It was through her time at the clubs that she found her passion for serving marginalized populations and advocating for social justice and equity.
Krista currently resides in Philadelphia. If she’s not home, you can likely find her at a Sixers game, Rehoboth Beach, or her brother’s home cuddling with his dog.
Say hello! Krista@striveleadership.org
Born and raised in Wilmington, DE Mariana graduated from St. Andrew's School. She earned a BA in English from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, where she participated in two varsity sports. She holds an MSW in Social Change and Innovation from the University of Southern California and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver. Prior to her role at Strive and Dual School, she served as a program director in the residential camp world and taught elementary and middle school in a variety of school settings.
Say hello! Mariana@striveleadership.org
Audrey joined the Strive team full time in February 2021. She had the pleasure of being introduced to Strive during the summer of 2018, working as a Strive Instructor at Tyler’s Camp.
Audrey graduated from Strayer University in 2009 with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. After mentoring a young woman within her church for about a year, Audrey started to realize she enjoyed working with adolescents and wanted to make a larger impact within her community. She decided to get her Master’s in Administration of Human Services and graduated from Wilmington University in December of 2011, all while mentoring another young woman through Big Brothers Big Sisters of DE, Inc.
Over the past 10 years Audrey has worked with youth from K-12th grade. She prides herself in knowing that she is impacting the lives of those who are underserved and often forgotten. She joined Strive after being with Communities In Schools of DE for seven years, where she served as Site Director at William Penn High School and New Castle Elementary School. Audrey is thrilled to be a part of the Strive team and will continue to walk in her purpose of serving others!
Say hello! Audrey@striveleadership.org
Caroline joined Strive full-time in February 2021 as Marketing Manager following her part-time role supporting the Coaches’ Corner initiative in 2019.
A Boston-area native, Caroline moved to Wilmington in 2016 following graduation from Franklin and Marshall College where she double-majored in Psychology and Philosophy. During her time at F&M, Caroline continued her lifelong love of soccer as a four year varsity athlete for the Diplomats. She attributes much of her leadership and interpersonal skills to the sport.
Through volunteer work and personal connections, Caroline has had a passion for equity work her entire life. This passion led her to join Teach For America following graduation from F&M which placed her in Wilmington, Delaware as a 3rd grade teacher at Kuumba Academy. During her time at Kuumba, Caroline’s passion for equity work grew. You will often hear Caroline referring to her prior students as her “kids” and her genuine connection to her students continues to guide her work today.
Caroline closely aligns with Strive’s value of “choose laughter” as she regularly looks for joy in all things. In her personal time you can find Caroline tutoring, coaching soccer and playing with her dog, Kairo.
Say hello! Caroline@striveleadership.org
Senior Director of People and Culture, Better Lesson
Senior Private Placement Analyst, Macquarie
Managing Director, Barclays Capital
Partner, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
Vice President, Breakout Capital
Co-founder, America Scores Los Angeles; Writer and Fulbright Specialist
President, Strive: How You Lead Matters
Director of Mental Performance, Los Angeles Angels
Olympic Gold Medalist; President, Champion BODY
Business Operations Director, JP Morgan Chase
Chair, Founder, Strive: How You Lead Matters;
President, The Lon Foundation
Director of Accounting and Reporting Solutions, BlackRock, Inc.
Retired, Strive: How You Lead Matters
Elena Veale, CFP®
Client Relationship Manager, Vanguard
Senior Writer- Sports Illustrated
Vice President of Baseball Operations
Los Angeles Dodgers
Assistant Vice President
Texas Rangers Baseball Club
Punahou School (Hawaii)
Founder & Executive Director
Martin Luther King High School (N.Y.)
Author & National Speaker on Leadership
Founder & Director
Positive Coaching Alliance
Director, MMA Program