Our Name

What comes to your mind when you think about a sandbox? For many it takes us to a place of creative shared play with siblings and friends. A place where, side by side, together or in parallel, we dug, sifted, tunneled, built walls for the sheer pleasure of tearing them down. We buried each other, got in fights, threw sand, made up again and started again.

We didn’t know it then, but we were practicing skills that would serve us for a lifetime. As we imagined what’s possible, we learned to use tools and share resources, make our way through conflict, and to lead and to follow each other.

What does your sandbox look like now?
What experience do you want to create?

Learning Philosophy

Sandbox Leadership is committed to supporting and nurturing on-going individual and collective learning for leaders. We all have this leadership capacity within us. Whether we choose to develop it or not, that is the question.

We believe that this learning is best engaged in a Community of Practice committed to learning together. Sandbox Leadership partners with you to build a culture of continuous learning and development for leaders at all levels within your organization or community.

Our Values

We support individuals, organizations, and communities that are committed to:


meaningful change happens through intention, action, reflection, and shared learning


relationships built on trust and mutual respect to foster learning and leading through communities of support, discovery, and growth

Serious Play

how we show up matters, so we co-create learning spaces that honor the joys and pains we experience growing as leaders


alignment of mindset, emotions and behaviors with shared purpose, values and vision

Our Team

The complex challenges encountered in today’s world require deep adaptive work at both an individual and collective level. It requires the ability to build relationships of trust and social capital, nurture and sustain respect for diverse ideas and perspectives, and engage in shared learning. The ability to lead others in this context requires a commitment to on-going learning and growth on the part of leaders. Sandbox Leadership is committed to supporting you in this work.

Doug Nathan, PCC
Doug Nathan, PCC

I’ve been coaching for over 20 years. I got my start at Microsoft teaching managers how to coach their employees around career development. That led to coaching high potential employees and executives within Microsoft to accelerate their growth and business results.

I’ve had the good fortune of working with executives and leadership teams in global high-tech and business organizations as well as government and public education.
I love learning about organizations, sussing out the unique strengths and challenges of their cultures, and then supporting leaders to tap into their creative resources.

I bring a strengths-based, whole-systems approach to my coaching and consulting. I don’t just focus just on the individual—we look at connections between people, systems and structures within an organization to understand why people do what they do. I partner with you using evidence-based practices to inspire creative, systemic approaches that enhance individual performance, team dynamics and inclusive workplace culture.

In my free time, I scuba dive, kayak, sail, bicycle and enjoy the creative chaos of life with my family on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Greg Abell
Greg Abell

The focus of my work for the past thirty years has fundamentally been about community. How do individuals come together in pursuit of a mutual purpose? How do individuals work interdependently for a common good?

In 1988 I discovered the emerging field of Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. I took my first course in Mediation, and within a year joined others committed to this work in starting a community-based Dispute Resolution Center. A few years later I left work as an educator to start an ADR firm, Sound Options Group, LLC. Over the past thirty years we have gained a national presence as a Conflict Engagement firm:

  • designing and implement systems in support of healthy and effective conflict engagement,
  • providing conflict intervention services, and
  • providing a comprehensive programs of professional development for build individual and collective confidence and competence for being with conflict.

My commitment to the work of Sandbox Leadership, LLC is found in the relationship between leadership, change and conflict. Over the years I have learned from leaders that one of their biggest challenges is leading change and navigating the inevitable conflict that accompanies it. Leaders often initiate change in the pursuit of ongoing improvement. Change, for many is perceived as a threat, resulting in resistance and conflict. Effective leadership is essential to a community or organizations ability to successfully navigate this experience.

In my free time I enjoy skiing, hiking, bicycling, all manner of water sports and spending time with my family.

sharon Ilstrup, PCC
sharon Ilstrup, PCC

Drawing on over 20 years’ experience in human resources and operational leadership roles within education, tech and biotech organizations, I partner with leaders and their teams as a leadership coach. I bring a strength-based approach with a focus on Vertical Development and work closely with my clients to explore and extend their leadership capabilities.

In this ever increasingly complex world, it is imperative that leaders know their higher purpose and how to achieve it through visionary, purposeful and global leadership styles. Through our work, we increase their ‘complexity fitness’  to successfully tackle the challenges, uncertainty, and ambiguity they face as leaders, with their teams and organizations, and the greater world.

When I’m not coaching or facilitating workshops, you can find me on the Puget Sound paddling my SurfSki, hiking in the beautiful PNW mountains and traveling with my amazing family.