Next Up Columbus 2024: Caitlin Faas

Caitlin Faas
Caitlin Faas

Photo courtesy of Caitlin Faas

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Caitlin Faas
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Age: 38
Profession: Grant Writer at The Columbus Urban League
Neighborhood: Westerville
Education: Ph.D., Master Certified Life Coach, Yoga Alliance RYT 200-hr certified Radiance Sutras® Meditation Teacher
Community Involvement: Columbus Urban League, Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center Volunteer

Quote: “The experience of Love is a symptom of alignment” – Scott Schwenk
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram | Personal Website

Give us a snapshot of your path
When I was a kid, I always focused on climbing the “achievement ladder.”
I was always aiming to get the gold star, to please my teachers, and to find external validation from every source I could. Every time I’d complete an achievement, I’d just look for the next one. After high school came undergrad, then a master’s degree, and a Ph.D.As I climbed the achievement ladder, I thought that each of the rungs—graduations, promotions, awards—would bring me closer to happiness and fulfillment. Instead, I found myself feeling stuck, questioning my entire path. When I finally reached the top of the ladder and secured tenure, I felt hollowed out.

I felt isolated and alone—like no one would understand what I was going through. My peers saw academia as an amazing place filled with students laughing and relaxing on the quad. Why would I ever want to leave that?

Suddenly, I had to face the fact that I wasn’t sure what I really wanted. I had spent so long focusing on what came next that I’d never developed the skill of listening to my own wants and needs. I’d been looking outward for fulfillment, and I’d never learned how to look inward. I had been acting like a “brain on a stick,” completely disconnected from my body.

Throughout this difficult period, it felt like I was alone—that I’d need to figure out my path without any guidance. But I didn’t need to. When I looked around, there was guidance available through my facilitators and tools they could teach me.

Finally, I started listening to my body and my own needs, rather than simply focusing on what I “should” want. I spent time healing and searching, and turned to career and life coaching. By February 2020, I was ready to jump off the academic ladder and take the leap to create my own.

Now I’m a certified life coach and meditation teacher, and I call upon my developmental psychology background in my daily work as a speaker, and facilitator to help high-achievers like me to learn how to integrate their whole body into their decision-making—not just their brain. I have become the person my earlier self really needed in the midst of my crisis, and I help team leaders become that person for their team.

My goal is never to encourage professionals to leave academia or hospital systems. My mission is to help high-achievers like myself find more sustainable, integrated practices and face the fear, vulnerability, and uncertainty of academia (or similarly demanding careers) so they don’t have to leave.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
I’m fueled by the creative life energy that we all share – I just work on keeping my mind in line rather than it guiding my days.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
I earned a Ph.D. in my early twenties and that academic training showed me the power of mentors and deep focus on a topic. I surround myself with people who embody what they teach. And I am passionate about spending time with multiple generations to gain new perspectives.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I’m a big fan of float tanking at Ebb and Float and walking along our many trails in Columbus.

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
The Church of the Sparkling Unicorn (COTSU) – Ecstatic Dance is one of my favorite weekly events! Casa Cacao, Poke Bunny.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I came home from the first day of kindergarten and told my mom I wanted to be a teacher. It’s never wavered. It just keeps morphing with who and what I teach along the way.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I used to consume a lot of books and podcasts, but right now I’m drawn to more silence and spaciousness.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
Being chosen for this award means – “I get to meet more of my people! I’m so excited!” Building connections and networking has always been important to me (only slightly deterred by COVID).

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
Columbus is full of warm and caring people who are savvy enough to know we have one of the best kept secrets in the U.S. I chose to come back home to Ohio on purpose and I’m so glad I did.

The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2024 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Edison Brewing Co. for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2024” »


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