Catherine Cooley

Speaker & Empathic Communication Thought Leader

Catherine Cooley, Speaker

Catherine Cooley has a longtime passion for peace made simple – helping high-powered career moms, families and organizations use Breakthrough Conversations to transform their personal and work lives. She brings 20+ years of community building experience and tools of mediation, council circle facilitation, conflict resolution and Empathic Communication. She is a master of the communication model used successfully by many companies and organizations including Merck, HCL, Microsoft and the United Nations.

Catherine’s presentations are packed with memorable tips and dynamic exercises, delivered in a lively way. She will surprise you with observations about communication mistakes you are making in your relationships every day—and she’ll explain clearly why this is happening. She will change the way you approach conflict forever by teaching you how to come back to love and peace of mind again—simply, quickly and easily.

Catherine’s presentations spark new levels of understanding, trust, ease, kindness and cooperation in families and groups as well as communities and organizations of any size.

Speaking Topics 

How Breakthrough Conversations Create Miracles in the Home

  • Learn the powerful principles of Empathic Communication and untangle confusion about conflict.
  • Learn to read emotions like a compass pointing to true needs.
  • Increase awareness of what is alive in you as a key to your enthusiasm.
  • Notice how your mind as judgment machine blocks connection.
  • Master the five steps to give empathy to yourself and to another.
  • Become an expert listener.
  • Use your way of being to invite vulnerability.

How Breakthrough Conversations Create Miracles at Work

  • Replace typical blaming/blame shifting with clear observations, willingness to reveal feelings, needs conversations and requests. 
  • Maximize your work conversation ROIs by focusing on needs.
  • Learn to meet needs by going straight to the heart of the matter, without getting tripped up on judgements and criticisms.
  • Resolve conflicts with Empathic Communication by having Empathy for Self, Empathy for Other, and Honesty conversations.
  • Discover the 80/20 rule for having conversations that connect and create trust, good will, understanding and cooperation.
  • Handle common workplace challenges—like anger, prejudice, power differentials and sharing resources before they become morale-busters.
  • Put a set of basic and advanced communication skills into daily practice to create amazing workplace culture and buy-in.

Partial List of Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Conflict Solutions Center
  • University of California, Department of Communication
  • Pacifica Graduate School – Ponder Peace Conference
  • Spectrum Recovery Center
  • Santa Barbara Community Gathering
  • Mesa Town Hall Meetings
  • Discoveries Learning Center
  • St. Andrews School
  • Federal Correctional Institution Lompoc
  • Alternatives to Violence Project
  • Marin Professionals
  • WORK Petaluma
  • Rotary Club of Vallejo


“I invited Catherine Cooley to present to our clinical team. She arrived well prepared and delivered a very clear presentation of her specialty, Empathic Communication and mediation. While being highly trained as psychotherapists, we are delighted to have Catherine provide the adjunct and focused delivery of Empathic Communication skills and conflict resolution that is often needed by our clients. My staff was impressed and will be referring Catherine for her professional services.”
~ Len Van Nostrand, M.A., Owner: Full Spectrum Recovery and Counseling, Santa Barbara, Ca.

“Catherine Cooley offered a thoughtful, beautiful and experiential introduction to Nonviolent or Empathic Communication for a group of our skilled mediators. While they all had extensive training in communication and mediation skills, they found the information Catherine offered to be insightful and inspiring. Her ability to present information to adults of various learning styles is impressive. Catherine is dedicated to the Empathic Communication process and it shows in her ability to communicate it thoroughly and clearly, with an engaging style.”
~ Lizzie Rodriguez, Chief Collaborative Coordinator, Restorative Community Network, Santa Barbara, CA

“In a gathering, Catherine creates an atmosphere of openness and safety that guides people to more effortlessly unlock their emotions, bring down defenses, and express themselves honestly and openly. She brings peace. And that is special.”
~ Alice San Andres Calleja, Mesa Neighborhood Community Organizer, Publisher/Editor, The Mesa Paper