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Martha Kesler

Director, Federal Portfolio

Martha is a seasoned Organization Development Practitioner and for more than 20 years, she has led design, development, and transformation initiatives for a broad range of customers by integrating strategy, leadership and team development, organization design and performance management. Martha is a Director, Federal Portfolio at Kotter and responsible for change and transformation initiatives. Prior to joining Kotter, Martha was the Chief Engineer for the Enterprise Strategy and Transformation Technical Center at The MITRE Corporation and Director of Customer Value for Nortel Networks. Most recently Martha operated her own consultancy supporting international clients with transformation, culture shift, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Martha earned her Master of Science in Organization Development from American University / NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science and also holds a Master’s in the Management of Change from The Johns Hopkins University.

Operating from the fundamental belief that most people genuinely want to do the best job they can and deliver the greatest value possible, Martha is focused on removing the barriers that impede potential and creating organization environments in which success can thrive.

Martha is currently based out of Cambridge, MA.

Why did you decide to work at Kotter?

I have followed Dr. Kotter’s work for years and leveraged much of his research and theory in my previous work. The approach is unique, and I wanted to – am excited to – collaborate with others at the firm and bring meaningful, lasting, positive impact to our clients

What challenges do you most enjoy helping your clients solve?

Bringing together contentious groups to find common ground is one of the most exhilarating and rewarding challenges for me.

What in your background helps you in this job?

When I was six, my grandmother told me I couldn’t drive tractor-trailer trucks because I was a girl – so of course I drove coast to coast hauling all kinds of things. How does that help me today? I developed a deep appreciation for our country – not just the glitzy parts – and expanded my understanding of hard work and the spirit that drives people who seldom have a voice. This experience gave me a lens that enables me to build better connections at all levels in the organizations in which I work.

What’s got you thinking right now?

I believe that our technological capabilities have superseded our social abilities, and I spend a great deal of time thinking about how to mitigate the threats of what I see as a growing chasm. I am concerned about the increasing inability to engage in meaningful conversations and express differences. From my perspective, one-line bullet points, short text exchanges, and confirmation bias has and continues to erode the basic communication capabilities essential to a peaceful and productive society.   

What is something about you that would surprise most people?

I wanted to be the next “Charles Kuralt” and travel around the US sharing the stories from big cities to small, rural hamlets – celebrating and promoting humanity.