We’re BetterWorld Partners.

Building your capacity to create change.

We are a woman-led, certified MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) team of expert consultants providing support to activate, educate, and evolve mission-driven leadership.

BetterWorld Partner’s Approach to Work

We must work inclusively to work on equity.​

Our Internal Work

We are a multi-identity team working to mirror and model internally the world we hope to bring about externally. To that end, our internal working relationships and organizational policies are designed to advance equity by pushing against paternalistic, colonizing, and hierarchical practices that limit access, opportunity, and inclusion. We seek to replace them with constructs that result in shared power and agency. We accomplish this as follows:

We Foster Agency and Share Power

Team members build their work teams and choose and negotiate their own work, both within and outside of BetterWorld partners. We honor and uphold our individual and collective power and agency.

We work to hold space for ourselves and others that sustains multiple aspirations, voices, and views. We see opportunities for abundance versus scarcity and room for more than one way of being and doing.

Our External Work

BetterWorld Partner’s mission is to support organizations as they build the internal capacity and bandwidth to meet their mission. To do that, we focus on shifting narratives, building intercultural humility and rediscovering more authentic leadership models that lead to deeper connections to and an honoring of community.

A colorful tree that is used in the BetterWorld Partners logo.

What We Do

Story Telling

Words matter and being able to tell your story—to funders, supporters, clients, staff, and others is critical to counter-acting the stories that may have been told about your organization and issue. Working together, we can help you develop your narrative—for grant, social media, websites, and more.

Intercultural Organizational Development​​

We will help you build cultural competence and be a companion for your organization on its journey toward a more inclusive and equitable workspace.

Authentic Leadership​

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. We believe that leadership begins by understanding yourself and what you bring to your leadership. What are your values? What is your story and how has your story impacted your leadership? How can you cultivate mindfulness and emotional intelligence within your leadership practice in service of advancing your mission?

Within our three focus areas we serve our clients and community in three ways:
Customized Experiential Training

Wherever you are, we’re here for you. BWP begins with a collaborative discovery phase, which allows us to assess your needs and goals. Next, our expert advisors create an action plan that includes coaching, workshops, and experiential learning. This tailored approach will optimize your evolution toward more effective, authentic leadership strategies that align your work with your mission.

Evolving through Education

We facilitate, moderate, and provide educational offerings centered around clear and inclusive communication and a commitment to cultural competency. We offer real-life tools and information to build authentic, effective leadership models that maximize your impact in the communities you serve.

Our work together will inform streamlined internal team workflow and alignment, future planning, and how to best tell the story of who you are and what you do. As a result, you will be better equipped for a wide range of items, such as grant writing and how you structure both your team and your board. BWP will provide holistic, inclusive, comprehensive guidance and resources that energize and strengthen your work.

Individual and Group Coaching

We meet you where you are. BWP will support and guide you through a self-discovery process that leads to rediscovering your strengths and offering insights and strategies that effectively define and navigate what comes next. Through our work together, you will gain perspectives and tools to inspire and inform a new path toward your bright future. Whether in a group or one-on-one, we’re your partners in creating a better world.

About BetterWorld Partners

We’re Curious, Intuitive, and Accomplished

As a group, we share a passion for building community and chocolate chip cookies. As individuals, we have diverse experience and personalities. As an organization, we are committed to leading with values. Meet the BetterWorld Partners team.

Anti-Racism Statement

BetterWorld Partners aspires to become an intentional anti-racism organization actively working to dismantle racism that is internalized within each of us and the institutions and systems in which we work. Our intention is to create a space where all people know they are welcomed and valued.

BetterWorld recognizes the definition of racism as power + privilege. We understand that racism can be deliberate but can also be unintentional and unconscious. With that understanding, BetterWorld Partners commits to better comprehending, identifying, discussing and combating racism however it shows up. Through this process, we will discover ways that racism impacts our organization, the organizations with which we work and ourselves as individuals. We believe that becoming an anti-racism organization is an ongoing process that is imperative if we are to be co-creators of a BetterWorld.

Our Values

  • We believe relationships matter.

  • We recognize that experience and intuition are valid ways of knowing.

  • We honor how people show up.

  • We prioritize care for ourselves and others.

  • We strive for progress over perfection.

  • We are infinitely hopeful.

Our Team

Athena Adkins

A photo of Athena. Athena leads the BetterWorld Partners Team.“Who do we Choose to Be?
This is the question that drives Athena and her work. Throughout her 20+ year career in the non-profit and philanthropic sector, her effort to leverage her experience and expertise and align her personal values with mission-driven organizations has led her to engage in deep, meaningful work at the intersection of organizational development and capacity building—where those ideas intersect with authentic leadership, intercultural organizational development, healing from trauma, and emotional intelligence. Essentially, she is a champion of the idea that it is not just “what we do,” but also “how we do it.”

As both the president of a woman-owned, minority-owned business, and as an executive coach, Athena brings deep leadership and management experience to all of her client engagements. Her experience leading teams—beginning at the University of Miami where she rowed stroke seat for their Division 1 program and led the team to an NCAA second place finish behind Navy, and culminating as a True North Leadership Fellow through the George Family Foundation—includes leading from the middle, motivating volunteer teams, coaching executives on balancing vision, team building and day-to-day operations, and building her own team of consultants—with varied skills, experience, motivations and life experience—to excel professionally and understand the power of culture and team. She is a values-led leader who understands when to deploy the tools of co-creation, coaching, and mentorship, as well as the power of stepping up and in during critical times to hold space, navigate through discomfort and uncertainty, and try to work in ways that honor people and evoke their best human qualities.

Athena has spent more than a decade building a successful private practice working for high-impact organizations—from small community-led nonprofits to universities and health care systems. She and her team are the “secret sauce” for their clients, co-creating processes to build capacity of both organizations and individuals. These include strategic plans, program development and evaluation, implementing DEI through intercultural organizational development, and working behind-the-scenes to help organizations understand and unleash the power of their stories in order to galvanize public and private support. Her superpowers include asking hard questions and not being afraid of the answers, seeking clarity, and breaking ideas down into foundation pieces in order to increase understanding—her own and her clients. Her favorite part of the work is the opportunity to co-conspire with smart, accomplished, fiercely principled people to create environments that let us all thrive.

Deb Foster – St. Croix Ojibwe

A photo of Deb. Deb is part of the BetterWorld Partners Team.

Deb has worked within the non-profit sector for over 35 years with a vision to be a star advocate for BIPOC communities by creating improvement opportunities where families and youth can flourish. She has provided executive leadership in program development and administration, fundraising, communications, change management, capital campaign projects, and leadership development for numerous agencies including the YMCA, Lyndale Neighborhood Association, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (now Violence Free Minnesota), and the Ain Dah Yung Center. Most recently, Deb facilitated a $17.5M capital campaign that realized a new 42-unit permanent supportive housing project for homeless Native young people ages 18 – 24.

With a masters in Marriage & Family Therapy (MS-MFT), Deb’s expertise in understanding the depth of needs within the American Indian urban and Tribal Nations has garnered lasting impact throughout Indian Country. Her passion has always been to orchestrate collaborative efforts and partnerships that result in win-win scenarios for all those involved.

Joining Better World Partners comes at a time when all that Deb has garnered throughout her career can be applied towards her continued desire to work within communities from all walks of life. Deb believes that listening, learning, and embracing where others are at, is at the heart of generating many successful pathways for individuals and agencies. Her favorite aspect of any opportunity is to help clear the way through guidance and reinforcement, with anyone who is seeking to enhance their leadership skills. Witnessing the many ventures of growth and development with partners is her ultimate joy.

Better World Partners’ mission and values form a perfect platform for Deb to extend her proficiency and she is truly grateful to be a part of this amazing team of intelligent, creative, and genuine group of women professionals!

Julia Hobday

A photo of Julia. Julia is part of the BetterWorld Partners Team.

Julia Hobday is truly grateful to work with a group of passionate and compassionate women who share values as well as workspace. Her goal in life has always been to be a force for good in the world and the mission at BetterWorld Partners fits that aspiration perfectly. And each day Julia discovers, better understands or learns something new from her colleagues and clients.

Julia brings over 20 years of personal and professional experience in racial equity and intercultural development to her practice at BetterWorld. She loves working with people from across the ethnic, political, and economic spectrum and considers her work as bridge building – connecting diverse perspectives in a wide range of environments. Julia helps both individuals and organizations move forward in their capability to work across difference toward their equity, inclusion and justice goals. Many people and organizations know they want to be more equitable, but don’t know what that means and what that might look like. Julia helps build an understanding of where an individual or organization is and where they want to be, and illuminates a path to get them there.

Julia believes that intercultural development, or intercultural humility, is essential to healthy relationship. And relationship comes in all forms – from familial, to friendship, to work-place. Julia is also a believer in community. Her experience living with others spans time in small towns, inner-cities, and rural villages, both domestically and internationally. She believes community is at its best when its rich layers of difference are noticed, named and uplifted. And she know that developing our intercultural muscles aids our ability to be curious about difference, and ultimately celebrate it. Julia considers it a gift to witness and nourish that development in the work she gets to do.

Julia is a Qualified Administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and Intercultural Conflict Styles (ICS), a trained Racial Justice Facilitator, and she holds an Advanced Certificate in Equity and Diversity from the University of Minnesota. She is also a proficient Spanish speaker and occasionally translates and interprets for Spanish-speaking communities. Her experience includes projects with non-profit organizations, foundations, and educational institutions. 

Julia applies her intercultural skills both in a professional capacity as a consultant and coach, and in her roles over the years as a volunteer in many community organizations including: FREC (Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative); YWCA MN Racial Justice program; Sierra Club Northwest Chapter, St Joan of Arc Anti-Racism Core Group; St Paul Public Schools; and Project TRUST (Training for Resiliency in Urban Students and Teachers).

Working with others for cultural change and justice is a value Julia holds dear!

Jennifer Houston

A photo of Jennifer. Jennifer is part of the BetterWorld Partners Team.

Jennifer Houston (she/they) joined Better World Partners in March 2022. Jennifer brings over 20 years experience in leadership, board and consultant roles in the areas of: nonprofit management, organizational development, fundraising, communications, community engagement, strategic planning, board governance, executive coaching, and most recently, diversity, equity and inclusion based on the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) framework. They have worked at the intersections of race/ethnicity, gender/gender orientation and identity, and other areas of identity that are marginalized to bring more social justice in the world.

They identify as a queer adopted Korean American woman with deep lived professional and personal experiences that inform her practice. She envisions a world where all people can be seen with respect, care and dignity for who they are and is working to build this through her work. Jennifer has a BA in psychology and women’s studies from the University of Minnesota and an MPA in nonprofit management and public policy from the Humphrey School, and recently completed a certificate in Facilitating Culture Change. Jennifer is an avid outdoors person, studies energy healing modalities, and has two cats and a partner who she pets regularly.

Tene Wells

Through her coaching practice, Tene helps people create new lives, transform organizations, begin, and grow small businesses and initiate new community-led solutions. She believes we all have the power to create the lives we imagine if we open our hearts and minds to the possibility. When we do, we improve our capacity to create assets that build their own economic engines.

Tene is a BLACK Woman, born in a housing project to a teen Mom, and her life’s experiences went far beyond the circumstances of her birth. At 8 years old, she read about Harriet Tubman. Tene was struck that, during the worst period of slavery, Harriet did not see herself as a slave. Tene began to understand that everyone has Harriet’s power. Once she learned the secret to living her best life, opportunities were endless. Tene’s life passion is to help us grow our capacity to create an economic engine to fund our passions. She has been a catalyst for change for individuals, organizations, and communities as they realize their full potential. With a reputation as a successful community organizer, fundraiser, entrepreneur, pacesetter, and executive leader. She has worked in corporations, nonprofit and government, both nationally and internationally. She has travelled the world, met with many leaders including Oprah, Desmond Tutu, and Prince.

Contact Us

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Our Workshops

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Leading into the Future

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Facilitating Cultural Change Workshop

The highly anticipated “Facilitating Cultural Change” workshop will return to Saint Paul, Minnesota, from June 10-14, 2024!

This dynamic group learning opportunity is for people inspired to continue bringing cultural, systemic, and transformative social change into the world around them. The FCC workshop provides practical and grounded tools to do this work.

Attendees will gain:

  • Deepened intercultural competence
  • Personalized IDI assessment and review
  • Small group coaching sessions, & more

Join a cohort of leaders in this weeklong intensive session and bolster your capacity to do meaningful work.

Facilitating Cultural Change Workshop

The highly anticipated “Facilitating Cultural Change” workshop will return to Saint Paul, Minnesota, from June 10-14, 2024!

This dynamic group learning opportunity is for people inspired to continue bringing cultural, systemic, and transformative social change into the world around them. The FCC workshop provides practical and grounded tools to do this work.

Attendees will gain:

  • Deepened intercultural competence
  • Personalized IDI assessment and review
  • Small group coaching sessions, & more

Join a cohort of leaders in this weeklong intensive session and bolster your capacity to do meaningful work.