What’s in a name?

I first discovered the importance of a good headwind in the early 1990s.  Out of my office window in Costa Mesa, CA, my peripheral vision was drawn to something out of the ordinary…. airplanes landing and taking off at John Wayne airport going the wrong way!  They typically took off and landed flying into the breeze coming off of Newport Beach…. left to right in my office window. On these days, the hot Santa Ana winds were blowing in from the desert in the opposite direction so the air traffic controllers reversed all of the flight patterns to fly from right to left in my window. Some simple research taught me that for planes and their pilots, a headwind is a good thing. This was counter to my instincts as a frequent flyer… and as a leader. I had always valued a good tailwind to speed things up.  I always listened to the pilot’s preflight assessment of how a headwind or tailwind was going to impact how quickly I was going to get to my destination.  As a leader I loved those seasons when everything was clicking with the right people and resources in place and we were growing at a faster rate than anticipated.  Conversely, as a young leader, I was always frustrated by the times when unexpected organizational challenges slowed progress.  Today I am no less motivated to find this seasons of exponential advancement, but I have learned to value and leverage the power of the headwind.  One of the principles of the Paterson process is that we slow down and gather perspective in order to land on the best and most sustainable plans.

In our fast-paced culture we don’t naturally like to do that, but the reality is a headwind helps us to lift our heads (like the nose of a plane taking off into a headwind) and gain perspective that we need. Another key reality I have discovered as a leadership coach, is that people or organizations find themselves asking for this kind of help when they are experiencing resistance that feels to them like a headwind that is slowing them down.  I have learned, this is the best time to embrace the resistance and gain perspective so we can see things more clearly and later, with greater clarity, accelerate our pace.


Do you desire a more purposeful plan for your life?
I’d love to see you living how you want to live.
Does your organization need clarity to step out of uncertainty and into its true destiny?
I’d love to bring strategic coaching to facilitate meaningful growth.

StratOp is a strategic system that helps your team clarify where you are, where you’re headed, and how to get there. More than a one-time planning event, StratOp is a full system that moves from the big picture vision to practical action steps. We will help you install an accessible suite of management tools that equip your team and ensure your vision becomes a reality. If your team needs clarity, alignment, momentum and growth, StratOp is for you.

Paterson LifePlan is a facilitated journey that helps you discover your unique purpose.  Along the way, you’ll gain clarity on where you are, where you want to be, and the key next steps to get there. LifePlan is a roadmap for your life.

Hello! I’m Mark.

Mark Orphan
Leadership Coach
Organizational Catalyst
Social Entrepreneur
Paterson LifePlan & StratOp Facilitator

I have been blessed to serve over 30 years in non-profit, community, and church leadership as pastor, church planting leader, founder, executive director, university teacher, public speaker, fundraiser, coach, mentor, and consultant. In that time, I have co-founded three community serving non-profit organizations and served on three church planting teams.  All six of these organizations are thriving and are all transforming lives and communities today in Southern California and Northern Colorado.  I hold a BA in Christian Education and an MA in Leadership Studies from Vanguard University of Southern California.

My wife and I have raised 4 great kids… two of them come into our family through foster care and adoption.  One of our greatest life passions to create opportunities for kids who are caught in a vicious cycle of brokenness by no choice of their own.  We work to strengthen and support the families that are giving these kids a second chance and by helping to expand the capacity of organizations that are providing key services to these kids.

Having coached leaders and provided strategic planning support for dozens of organizations, I chose certification with the Paterson process because it is the best tool I have ever experienced in truly creating clarity, alignment of vision, team ownership, focused direction, sustainable impact, and measurable results.  Without exception, I have seen transforming results in key areas of organizational health and growth as I have worked with organizations to install the StratOp system.  Likewise, I have seen leaders and individuals in transition gain life-changing clarity and focused results as we have worked together to create a LifePlan. These tools have enabled me to live out my greatest passion in helping others to step more fully into their unique purpose and most fulfilling areas of impact.

30 +

years of leadership

50 +

organizations served through capacity building and strategic planning


thriving organizations launched

Get Inspired

“A leader’s job is to look into the future and see the organization, not as it is, but as it is, but as it should be.”

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

What People Are Saying

“The StratOp process was exactly what we needed during our season of fast-paced growth.”

“Mark demonstrated a high level of professional and purposeful skill in guiding me in what I consider to be a profound outcome of focused transition.”

“StratOp is the most beneficial strategic planning tool I have experienced in my non-profit career.  It is an essential tool for every nonprofit regardless of size and budget. Having Mark as facilitator amazing. His  intuitive ability to capture the essence of the organization and establish concise next steps brought real-time vision and future business planning within reach.”

‘In the past, I have always been skeptical of “strategic planning” programs feeling that they did not provide useful tools for an organization to move forward.  However, I found the StratOp Process very engaging, challenging and, more importantly, a process which left our organization with specific and identifiable actions to follow to get to the point that we which to achieve.  The facilitator was patient and accepting and made the process very accessible to all concerned. Well worth the time and money!’

Who We’ve Worked With

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Contact Me

There’s beauty in the headwinds.

Is your organization ready to align strategy with every day directives?

Are you ready to explore your personal purpose more deeply?

Let’s talk!