Welcome to Second Circle

Human-centered strategy, coaching, process design & facilitation for leaders,
teams, and organizations that care about people, experiences and outcomes

2024 AAIE What Could Go Wrong? Handout

Good Work, Done WELL, for the right reasons

"At its best, work seems never-ending only because, like life, it is a pilgrimage, a journey in which we progress not only through the world but through stages of understanding. Good work, done well for the right reasons and with an end in mind, has always been a sign, in most human traditions, of an inner and outer maturity. Its achievement is celebrated as an individual triumph and a gift to our societies. A very hard-won arrival."- David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea


  • Coaching for leadership, professional and personal development.

  • Strategic thought partnership to scope and solve for any problem or need

  • Holding every individual as fundamentally worthy, creative and resourceful.


  • Inclusive, intentional team and community experiences

  • Collaborative team formation, agreements, chartering, alignment and repair

  • Participatory problem-solving, custom learning design and responsive facilitation


  • Designing and executing scalable generative work and problem-solving

  • Stakeholder analysis, mapping and honest engagement

  • Centering people and processes to reach results while minding the system at every step

If you don't do your work,
you become work for other people.
- Lama Rod Owens

About second circle

SECOND CIRCLEWe partner with leaders, teams and organizations to design and execute creative, trusted and responsive solutions and approaches built on human-centered principles and practices. We concurrently attend to people, processes and systems, achieving strategic and sustainable outcomes while infusing moments of insight, delight and connection along the way. We collaborate closely with clients at every step to bring their vision to fruition.
SHELLEY PAULShelley Paul, founder and principal, provides professional coaching, creative and strategic consulting, and masterful facilitation for leaders, teams, organizations and communities. Before launching Second Circle, she most recently served as Head of Research and Learning Design at Atlanta International School.With 20+ years of experience working across education, non-profit and corporate settings, Shelley brings a unique background and deep expertise in collaborative leadership, participatory problem-solving, stakeholder engagement, strategic process design and creative facilitation to her work and engagement with clients and communities around the world.Shelley is committed to her own intercultural learning and to engaging in practices and actions that advance equity and belonging. A Stanford d.school trained design thinker, coach and mentor, she models and shares ways of working that are humane, effective and sustainable.She will draw you a stick figure version of anything you request.

Clients Say

As a Head of School, I was looking for not only a thought partner for myself but also a forward thinking consultant for my newly assembled team. Shelley Paul brings her vast experience and expertise to help build a collaborative team, instantly creating a dynamic of trust necessary to think across the system of school towards collective goals that elevate our work. Shelley has a magical ability to gently inspire the team to prioritize the many complexities associated with leading a school into tangible, achievable outcomes. Her warm, mindful and encouraging approach has benefitted us tremendously and would be an asset to any organization seeking to grow towards a common vision.Richard Ulffers | Head of School, International School of Boston

Shelley helped us to re-launch GLISI's executive team during a time of important transition. She brings a one-of-a-kind constellation of strengths to understanding people and crafting questions that draw you into fresh mindspace, moving you from where you are to where you want to be, almost magically. At the heart of her gifts is a genuine love for people, from which she offers candid and compelling insight, and the encouragement to step through discomfort, away from fear and toward aspiration.Leslie Hazle Bussey, Ph.D. | Executive Director, Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement

When you hire Shelley as a facilitator, you can relax because your group is in the hands of a master. A strategic thinker, she will have thoughtfully planned the session to bring out the best in people for solving problems and moving forward with a vision. I hired Shelley and her partner to lead a session for 125 Heads of School on diversity, equity and inclusion and it was our highest rated session in years!Deborah Welch | CEO, Academy for International School Heads (AISH)

Under Shelley's capable guidance, we developed and executed a clear and transparent plan for sustainable governance. Shelley has a gift for tending to both people and process, while also keeping sight of the whole picture, within the moment of creating something new. Whether it is designing for a structural change, chartering a new team or facilitating shockingly effective meetings, Shelley combines both heart and skill to draw forth the best in every person.Sue Gilman | Chair, Board Development Committee, Compassionate Atlanta

Shelley is a master at taking your ideas and imagined outcomes and turning them into creative, engaging, meaningful and actionable plans. She has been integral in designing and facilitating our culture workshops while also helping us craft strategy and processes for our new company. Shelley has a unique talent for reading the room, figures out quickly the question behind the question, and brings her artful, warm, and upbeat personality, whether joining us in-person or hosting us via Zoom. Her collaborative and fun nature makes for a wonderful working relationship.Sylvia Hastanan | CEO/Founder, Greater Good Health

Shelley has an impressive ability to work with all different types of people, in any context; to understand them, bring them along, and help them reach new levels of understanding and insight. She quickly grasps learning objectives and develops a design to achieve them, using both proven and newly created methods. Shelley’s remarkable ability to adjust in the moment, read the room, and “design on the fly” to advance thinking and learning make her an ideal thought partner, facilitator and coach.Scott Sanchez | Chief Innovation Officer, Nationwide; Founder, Innovators Atlanta

Shelley will elevate your personal and organizational practice through her collaborative approach. If you want to improve your participatory decision making, inclusive strategic planning methodology or enhance your ability to effectively engage your teams and community, then you will be thrilled that you chose to consult with her. She is simply an inspirational leader and facilitator.Rachel Hovington |Director, Benjamin Franklin International School

Shelley Paul has been instrumental in designing and facilitating so many positive learning experiences across our community and in applying a collaborative approach to our strategic planning. Shelley leads with empathy and curiosity and seeks to understand the many nuances, facets and feelings that often go hand in hand with the more visible operational elements of a complex situation. She has shared these skills and been a coach to me and to many of us and we are better for it.Kevin Glass | Head of School, Atlanta International School