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REF functions as a hub for Business Leaders

We are an Organization forged 20 years ago, comprised of nearly 1,500 US CEOs, Presidents,  and  Key Executives.

We form groups of 12-15 non-competing Business Leaders who meet monthly. The m
eetings are confidential and are led by a Forum Leader.

REF functions as a hub for Business Leaders. The Community extends beyond the Group, as it connects you to over 2,500 Entrepreneurs, Members, Forum Leaders, Partners, Ambassadors, and Global Speakers with whom you can share best practices, connect, and access opportunities in other markets.

REF is a hub for business leaders

We Build Irreplaceable Circles of Trust


Where Members elevate their most strategic challenges to optimize their ability to make better decisions,

create value and reach their next level.



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REF is celebrating over 20 years of learning and business success in Northern Virginia under Lee Self's leadership. Since 2003, Lee has brought together over 75 Northern Virginia business owners, CEOs, and presidents in business advisory groups. By sharing collective experiences, Forum members learn how to grow their businesses and their own leadership capabilities. With five Executive Forums to choose from in Northern Virginia, dozens of executives are learning together to accelerate business performance and personal success.


Lee is an active member of the National Capital Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, and the High Tech Prayer Breakfast Board of Directors.  Lee also served as President of the Executive Forums Franchise Advisory Board and has been named Executive Forums Partner of the Year.


A twenty-year veteran of the communications industry, Lee held senior leadership roles at Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) and (then Interland).  She was also a certified facilitator and continuous learning coach, chaired customer advisory boards, and served on the board of the Research Institute for Small and Emerging Business (RISE).


Lee received her MBA from George Mason University, her B.S. from the University of Virginia's McIntire School Commerce, and lives in Fairfax, VA.

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Donna leads one of the two Key Executive Forums for REF in Northern Virginia, where she facilitates Forums designed to support senior leaders, who are focused on growing their business, their teams, and themselves through an entrusted environment.  Her members find that being part of the Forum has enabled them to make better informed decisions, grow and change their businesses, be open to new possibilities, feel less isolated, and able to inspire their employees to achieve the desired goals. 

Donna has over 30 years of practical business, managerial, and leadership experience in Fortune 500 companies, such as IBM and Siemens.
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After spending fifteen years as an M&A Investment Banking professional working with successful business owners and their teams, Kathi became a certified executive coach and formed Golden Leadership Coaching. She is a trusted advisor to senior leadership where she assists and develops executives into the effective leaders they desire to be. She specializes in providing executive and leadership coaching and consulting services to entrepreneurs and senior executives and their leadership teams in finance, technology, analytical/engineering, Non-Profit, and Government Contracting. As an Executive Forum Leader, Kathi will add the power of peer insights and perspectives to the equation as she helps leaders navigate change and get to the next level!
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A scientist in his 'previous life', more recently, Josef Martens, Ph.D, has spent over 20 years working with clients and facilitating groups of all kinds and sizes. His background allows him to connect well with analytical leaders (especially scientists, engineers and technology professionals). He's able to help them and their teams address behavior, skills and their way of being so that they are able to find new solutions, break existing and limiting patterns and achieve new levels of success.

His clients are organizations that deal with complexity and change, and they want to implement new solutions to deal with it. They want to move their performance from good to great, so that everyone in the organization improves their output, reduces risks, and drives radical growth. Most of his clients have an analytical workforce with deep subject matter expertise. Knowledge is of high value to them and despite (or because of) their expertise they sometimes overlook that other factors are more important in leadership and in building relationships.

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