Maggie Ellis Chotas


Before Maggie started The Mulberry Partners with Betsy, she was a camp counselor in Australia, a teacher in Philadelphia, a graduate student in Santa Fe and a school director in North Carolina. From all these experiences she gained an impressive set of skills in listening, leading, writing, public speaking and campfire singing.

Maggie was just about to pursue another master’s degree, when she and Betsy decided it was time to work together, making good on the promise they’d made back in high school after partnering on an English class project. In 2003, they launched Mulberry, a coaching and consulting firm dedicated to making work work better for leaders, teams, organizations and systems that weaves together Maggie’s educational background and Betsy’s consulting experience. Since then, they’ve had a great run helping clients enact meaningful changes to strengthen their leadership while building collaborative cultures in an atmosphere of partnership.

In 2014 Maggie and Betsy wrote about their partnership and the collaborations of 125 other female entrepreneurs in their critically acclaimed book, Power through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together. When Maggie isn’t co-leading Mulberry or volunteering for high-impact organizations, you can find her in her cozy home in the woods of Durham hanging out with her husband, kids, multiple pets and the many members of her extended family.

Betsy Polk


One day while waiting for a train in the Washington DC Metro station, Betsy, an organization development consultant who was working for a management consulting firm, had an epiphany.  She saw with stunning clarity the kind of work she most wanted to do: helping leaders lead better. And she saw just how she wanted to do it: by co-leading her own consulting firm with a trusted, savvy friend. It all seemed like a pipe dream until 2003 when Betsy joined forces with Maggie Chotas and launched The Mulberry Partners.

From the start, it was clear to Betsy and Maggie that Mulberry would focus on helping leaders along with their teams and organizations improve communication, boost collaboration, leverage conflict and build on success. Since then, Mulberry has developed leaders, built teams and facilitated change processes for groups of two to 500. Betsy and Maggie have gotten so much out of leading together, they decided to write about a book about partnership.

In 2014 their award winning book, Power through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together was published. Betsy, who lives in North Carolina with her lively family, advises her children to keep track of their epiphanies and to celebrate when they come true!

Education and Training

Education and Certifications

  • MA, School Administration, UNC at Chapel Hill
  • MA, Liberal Studies, St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD
  • BA, English Literature, Swarthmore College
  • NC Teaching and Principal Licenses

Additional Training

  • TEAMSTEPPS Master Trainer
  • Community mediation & Conflict resolution
  • Responsive Classroom
  • Augustine training

Education and Training

Education and Certifications

  • MS, Organization Development, American University, Washington, DC
  • BA, English Literature, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • Board Certified Coach, BCC
  • MBTI Certified
  • Certified community mediator, Montgomery County, MD

Additional Training

  • TEAMSTEPPS Master trainer
  • Leaders Collaborative Cohort member
  • Advanced Facilitation Training, American University

Shirley Thoms

Project Coordinator

Shirley Thoms is an expert editor who takes the documentation we provide clients to a whole new level of synthesis and readability. With over twenty years experience managing contracts, grants and programs at nonprofit agencies, Shirley brings a wealth of experience to her work with Mulberry. She was Director of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants North Carolina field office from 2007-2014 and earned a BA in Sociology and Dramatic Arts from Greensboro College. She will soon be graduating from NC Central University with a Master’s in Public Administration.

Julie Harris

Graphic Facilitator

Julie Harris brings the work you do to life by capturing it in dynamic visual images. She is a self-taught artist who works in a variety of mediums.  She paints, doodles, and creates graphic journals. Rarely will you see her without a sketchbook and pens. She lives in Carrboro, North Carolina with her husband and two sons. She has worked in formal and informal education for over twenty years as well as volunteering for non-profit organizations. For the past five years, Julie taught art at The Lerner School in Durham North Carolina. She recently spent a summer at the Penland School of Crafts as the recipient of the Golden Pearl Scholarship. See an example of Julie’s graphic facilitation work.