Program Leaders

Carol Graser

Carol Graser

Carol Graser is founder of NextGen Leaders, a firm focused on the transformation of leaders and organizations through executive coaching, leadership development, and organizational change management.  Carol works with senior executives globally who are leading enterprise wide transformations and are facing significant challenges leading in turbulent times.  She works with leaders who have stepped into new roles, helping them take their leadership to the next level.  Carol is also President of the Annapolis Leadership Center, whose mission is to “Develop Enduring Leaders for a Complex World”. The Center provides experiential leadership challenges in the outdoors as well as in the classroom. Through outdoor challenges and reflection,  leaders build their leadership strengths to prepare for new and ambiguous environments.  This experiential learning provides a foundation for leaders to learn how to become more effective and how to change their leadership to improve results.

Leadership Development
Carol has worked with senior leaders and their teams on challenging issues, including

  • Leading change
  • Designing nimble and enduring organizations
  • Learning how to lead more broadly across a global enterprise
  • Leading diverse and remote teams
  • Communicating to learn and to be heard
  • Leading with heart, inspiring and motivating others
  • Stepping up to expectations and responsibilities in a new role
  • Understanding the distinctions and perspectives that leaders bring to crucial conversations

Carol is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland in the R.H. Smith School of Business, teaching Leadership Development.  Carol has also been an adjunct professor in the Georgetown Executive Masters in Leadership, teaching both Culture and Scenario Planning. She is adjunct faculty in the Leadership Coaching Certification Program at Georgetown, and recently developed the Advanced Executive Coaching Program for the R. H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. She is Director of the Leadership Coaching Program for the leadership faculty and Company Officers at the United States Naval Academy.  Carol earned her coaching certification in the Georgetown University Leadership Coaching Certification Program, and has earned the Professional Coach Certification (PCC) with the International Coach Federation.

Carol’s global clients include the following organizations:  Anne Arundel Medical Center, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Amgen Pharmaceuticals, Center for Naval Analysis, Broadridge Financial Services, Children’s National Medical Center, Shore Leadership Foundation, Freddie Mac, FDIC, Department of Justice, Educational Media Foundation, Freddie Mac, Goodwill Industries, IBM, Johns Hopkins, IMS Health, Lockheed Martin, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Momentive, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, leadership faculty at the United States Naval Academy, Under Armour, University of Maryland Executive MBA with programs in both the U.S. and China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Securities and Exchange Commission, University of Maryland Medical Systems, Veterans Administration, Georgetown Executive Masters programs, Booz Allen, Google, USAID, and others.

Leadership Experience
Carol has been the Executive Director for Organizational Development at Merck Pharmaceuticals and the Change Management lead for their enterprise wide transformation.  Prior to establishing her coaching and consulting firm, Carol was on the leadership team of a startup strategy consulting business at IBM and led global consulting projects in business strategy and organizational change for IBM’s Fortune 100 customers.  She was also VP of Customer Service for Caterair International (formerly Marriott), a Director of Pricing at Marriott Corporation, and a financial manager at HP. Through these leadership experiences, Carol has forged her passion for leadership and created her approach to developing and coaching leaders.  Her current area of focus is on neuroscience and leadership.

Carol received an MBA from the University of Maryland, and a BA in International Relations, American University, Washington, D.C.

Personal interests: Carol is a runner, specializing in 5K races, an avid reader, and a photographer.  Her daughter, Sara, and granddaughter, Charlotte, live in Silver Spring, MD.


Dr. Joe Thomas

Dr. Joe Thomas is one of the founding partners of The Student-Leader Seminar and serves as its President and CEO.  He also currently serves as the Class of ’61 Chair and Distinguished Professor of Leadership Education at the US Naval Academy and instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, WY.  He serves as an Executive Coach for the EMBA program at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and as the Academic Director for the Smith School’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection Leadership Institute. He’s provided executive and leadership coaching to strategic leaders in the private and public sector, led team-building retreats with organizations ranging from Fortune 50 corporations to Police and Fire departments, and trained thousands in high performance ethical leadership.

He is the past Director of the John A. Lejeune Leadership Institute at Marine Corps University in Quantico, VA. A U.S. Marine Corps officer for over 20 years, he remains active in philanthropic work to assist veterans, law enforcement, and the education communities.  In the past few years his work has been featured in the Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, and 60 Minutes among other print and television programming.  Joe is also the co-founder of The Annapolis Leadership Center.

Joe’s education includes an M.S.Sc. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, a M.S.S. from the US Army War College, a Ph.D. from George Mason University, and Certificate in Public Leadership from the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.  He is a former elected school board member, a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7293 and American Legion Post 739 Whitehall PA, and is involved in a variety of philanthropic and community services.

Joe is the author of numerous articles and books on the subjects of character, training and education, and leadership. Joe is dedicated to maximizing the effectiveness of learning organizations and has built a Student-Leader Seminar team of world-renowned experts in a variety of fields related to leadership education. He has planned and led expeditions in the Appalachians, Rockies, Andes, Himalayas, plains of Southern Africa, and deserts and mountains of the Middle East. He has designed and taught leadership and ethics courses in Israel, Bulgaria, Romania, South Africa, China, Jordan, Turkey, among others. He and his wife Jackie have three sons and two granddaughters and reside in Annapolis, MD.

Scroll to top