About Sarah Pierson

“…One can remain alive…if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”
– Edith Wharton, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist


I believe that our imaginations, sense of personal power, and hopefulness suffer when our life changes in a big way, and that coaching is needed to helps clients redefine their futures.

My son was in second grade, my daughter was in sixth, and I was a writer working from home when our family, and what felt like my whole life, collapsed in divorce. My role and identity were in tatters: I was no longer a wife, and overnight, I was no longer a full-time mother. The reality that I had to share the care of the children with my ex-husband and the women of his life hurt me much more than the breakup of the marriage. Being a wife and mother had been the ultimate priorities of my life. The separation, while a necessary mutual decision, left me disoriented, anxious, concerned for the children, and stuck in a very sad place.

A coach showed me who I was and what I wanted in that brutal time. Coaching focused on my strengths, and on my hopes for the future. For the first time in my life, I made decisions based on my values, not on others’ expectations of me. I learned to define my self by what kind of person I am being, not by what I am doing.

Ultimately, I went back to school for a masters, started an incredibly rewarding career, and married an astonishingly good man. I let go of bitterness and focused on gratitude. This kind of renovation of the spirit is what I want for my clients.

“I have always preferred to look forward and not back. What, after all, is the point in doing the latter?”
– Anna Wintour, editor, Vogue


When I received my “call back” for an abnormal mammogram in May, 2014, my heart sank. Dreading the worst, I was not surprised to be scheduled for a biopsy, but my fear immediately built a wall around my ability to be lighthearted and hopeful. Between the call back and the lumpectomy, my normal optimism and creativity evaporated. I became doubtful, fearful, and resentful.  Radiation exhausted me, and by the time my treatments were over, I felt like a recurrence of cancer was a sure thing for me.  I had become a worrier, and my future seemed bleak.

Again I turned to a coach for a badly needed renovation. We worked on what I stand for, what I want, and we set goals.  When I found myself once again curious, motivated and hopeful, I realized how much I wanted to coach people dealing with cancer. To me, a cancer diagnosis begins a new way of living with a new set of normals.  With coaching, clients learn how to recognize what is good, celebrate their values, set goals, and focus on their imaginations–not their prognosis.

“Put passion ahead of training. Feel out…what you most want to do…Obey that passion as long as it lasts.”
– E.O. Wilson, ant biologist and Pulitzer Prize winning author

I am a certified co-active coach, credentialed by The International Coach Federation, and the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), founded in San Rafael, California. CTI partners with Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital to study the efficacy of coaching on the brain. I am a member of the Integrative Healthcare Team at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia where I work with cancer patients. I also work closely with a large family law firm to coach their clients through the divorce process. For more than 30 years, I have consulted with and worked for businesses and individuals to spark creativity and performance through writing, marketing, and sales. As a coach, I teach clients to find their own spark, and to follow it.

In addition to certification in coaching with the International Coach Federation, and my masters of liberal studies from University of Mary Washington; I hold a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University, and I studied English at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. I participate in continuing education across the disciplines.

– Sarah Holt Pierson, ACC, MALS

Professional Relationships since 1984

San Diego, California
  • The La Jolla Light
  • The Building Industry Association of San Diego County
  • The Rancho Bernardo Inn
  • Willis Allen Real Estate

Charleston, South Carolina
  • Charleston Magazine
  • Jan Goin Art Gallery

  • Rinehart, Butler, Hodge, and Moss Attorneys at Law
  • The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region
  • The University of Mary Washington
  • The Essex County Countryside Alliance
  • Phyllis Theroux, Nightwriters, Inc.
  • The Free-Lance Star
  • Susan Carol and Associates
  • Stuart-Fisher Meeting Management
  • The Home Builders Association of Virginia

New York City, New York
  • Worth New York
  • The Carlisle Collection

“You have brought me out of the darkness.”

L.C., Recovering from cancer
Fredericksburg, VA – January 2016

“Now I have a roadmap.”

W.Z., Producer
Fredericksburg, VA – January 2016

“Thanks to coaching, I have a new head on my shoulders.”

S.P., Senior Director, PBS
Washington, D.C. – June 2014

“Sarah is a superb coach. She helped me through the most difficult experience of my life. I am not sure what I would have done without her insights, kindness, and coaching.”

K.Z., Managing Director
New York, NY – July 2014

“Why do I feel like I am in the middle of one of the most important conversations of my life?”

Lucy, Attorney
Fredericksburg, VA – May 2014

“Sarah is abundantly compassionate and kind, and yet has a laser-like intuition that helps her ask just the right questions to get to the heart of the matter.”

D.E., Physician
Boston, MA – April 2013

“You are amazing as is the process. We wish you had been around years ago.”

T.R., Attorney
Fredericksburg, VA – December 2013

“Thank you for your love as a coach.”

N.H., Consultant
Tokyo, Japan – November 2013

“I call Sarah Pierson a gifted coach because she listens… so you feel heard. She offers profound insights. She helps identify values…and guides you…to the life you want to lead.”

J.Z., Education Consultant
Boston, MA – December 2013

“A special thank you to…Sarah Pierson for reinventing the Essex County Countryside Alliance.”

Peter Bance, President
Essex County Countryside Alliance – October 2010

“Working with Sarah…I have improved everything in my life I have the power to improve. She’s my person to call if I get stuck.”

C.B., Charleston, SC – February 2013

“I always feel more at peace when I hang up the phone from coaching with Sarah.”

A.E., Richmond, VA – January 2013