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Training and research are the capstones of the Cornerstone Leadership Institute (CLI), founded in 2017 as a placeholder and repository for the extant research of Ken Gërhart – who at the time was pursuing a Master of Strategic Leadership. Whether you are an entrepreneur or executive seeking to improve your personal leadership quotient through our individual coaching program or a manager looking for leadership development of your team, the CLI has the leadership program for you. Non-profits can equally benefit from our training programs. Due to their modular format, these leadership programs can be tailored to meet the needs and budget of each individual client or organization.

Leadership Training. The CLI offers leadership training for groups as well as on the individual coaching level. The topics include the leadership basics of vision casting, critical thinking, strategy development, team dynamics, work-life balance, and effective communication. Other more focused programs explore leading innovation, developing talent and empowering people, inspiring collaboration, mastering the distinction between management and leadership, and leveraging an improved leadership quotient for better decision making. Local, regional, national, and global economic development are overarching conduits through which much of this leadership training flows.

Leadership Research. The CLI is engaged on the cutting edge of academic research through the extant effort of the staff. Each of our senior fellows and research fellows are pursuing their respective research interests both in praxis and theoretical research. Many of our staff are affiliated with universities and other academic institutions around the global as professors and adjunct professors. Follow the links after each staff member bio to learn more about their specific research interests.

Editing & Writing Coaches. Many of the CLI executive team and other senior leadership are engaged as editors for hire for any number of projects - including but not limited to, doctoral dissertations, peer-reviewed journal articles, popular press publications, book chapters, and books. Our coaches typically use a three-tiered editing model whereby the heavy lift is accomplished in the first tier, a lighter review is done in the second tier, and a final punch-list is completed in the third tier. This model ensures a thorough review process and tightens the editing task over an iterative process.

Team Members. The CLI team members are among the best and brightest rising stars in the leadership industry, academics, and international consulting ranks. With seasoned leadership at the helm, the CLI is actively recruiting Senior Fellows, Research Fellows, and Interns with the goal of creating a fully staffed stable of academic racehorses who can respond to and deploy on short notice to opportunities at any point on the globe. Our vision is to have 200 doctoral level or otherwise terminal degreed staff on board by 2030, setting a vigorous on-boarding pace of more than two per month for the next decade.

executive team

KPG MugKen Gërhart, MSL. Ken Gërhart is the co-founder - along with his wife, Barbara, and executive director of the CLI, a unit of The Cornerstone Group international, which he founded in 1990. His responsibilities include vision casting and alignment, strategic planning and execution, and building bridges to other resources across the globe. Mr. Gërhart is a Christ-follower, ordained minister of the Gospel, AmPro Certified Racquetball Instructor and International Official, serial entrepreneur, and a PhD student in Organizational Leadership with a focus in Theology at Regent University. After 38 years as an investment banker specializing in strategic planning and corporate finance, Mr. Gërhart is now transitioning to a teaching and writing second career. With two-years of national championship football at Texas A&I University, a 1976 European Tour, and a two-time induction into the Javelina Hall of fame behind him, he earned his BA in Political Science and Sociology from Texas Tech University; multiple certifications, including: (a) Public/Private Partnerships in Real Estate Development Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, (b) Advanced Negotiation Training from the city of Dallas Legal Department, (c) Advanced Financial Statement Analysis from the American Bankers Association, and (d) Excel for the Advanced User: Level III from the KISD continuing Education Department; as well as his MSL in Strategic Leadership from LeTourneau University - graduating with highest honors. Originally from Houston, Mr. Gërhart and his wife – who are empty- nesters, now live on and operate the Broken Tree Ranch, a working cow-calf operation in Caldwell County Texas. Mr. Gërhart is a 6th generation Texan and his grandchildren are 4th generation legacy students and graduates of Klein High School in the greater Houston Metro Area.

Mr. Gërhart has presented at numerous international academic conferences, published eight academic articles in his master’s program, currently has two peer-reviewed articles in press, and two dozen or so more in the queue. His particular research interest is developing an overarching theology of leadership under which a metal-model is emerging where a comprehensive 12-point taxonomy can be codified. Click here for more information about this emerging area of leadership research and an anthology of Ken’s publications. Contact Ken at: kgerhart@cornerstonefmc.com


Debra J. Dean, PhD. – Senior Fellow. Dr. Dean joined the CLI in July 2019 and serves in a key role in the institute. Her experience as a consultant and executive coach is invaluable. She is also an adjunct professor with Regent University where she teaches Quantitative Research Methods, Descriptive Analytics, and Leadership Analytics. In November 2018 she departed from her 20+ years in corporate America where her most recent position was Director of Business Transformation.

Dr. Dean’s latest notable conference participation includes OPEX Week: Business Transformation World Summit, The Faith at Work Summit, Academy of Management MSR Consortium Planning, Academic Oasis, and the Regent University Roundtable. Dr. Dean’s most recent research efforts include the following: (a) Integration of Christian Values in the Workplace: An examination of employee engagement, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment, (b) Religion and Spirituality in the Workplace: A quantitative evaluation of job satisfaction and organizational commitment, and (c) A Correlation Study of Employee Engagement and Servant Leadership. She also contributed to the Routledge Companion to Management and Workplace Spirituality.

Consequent to her exceptional performance, Dr. Dean received the 2018 Outstanding Reviewer award for the Management, Spirituality, and Religion (MSR) community; she was also nominated both as one of three top operational excellence leaders with OPEX, and as a top female leader within her previous global workplace. Her efforts also raised employee engagement in a multinational organization to some of the highest in the company.

Dr. Dean earned a BA in Business Administration and an MS in Business Communication from Spalding University, and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. She also holds a number of designations and certifications, including a Certificate of Management from the University of Louisville.

Dr. Dean was born and raised in Kentucky, spent nine years in Iowa, and currently resides in Colorado with her husband, Steve, and their youngest son, Gavin. In total, they have six amazing children and three wonderful granddaughters. Click here for more information about Dr. Dean’s leadership research and an anthology of his publications. Contact Dr. Dean at: drdebra@drdebradean.com

Color Key: On-boarded; Target Recruit

Team Leaders & Associates

Secondary Education UnitDr. Larry Gërhart, Team Leader

Larry Gërhart, Ed.D. - Senior Fellow

Linda Gray Gërhart, Ed.D. - Senior Fellow

Fred Jonas, M.Ed Research Fellow

Nicole “Niki” B. Munoz, Research Fellow

Church Consulting Unit - Dr. John Mrazek, Team Leader

John Mrazek, PhD. - Senior Fellow

Military & Prison Chaplain Unit - Team Leader

Maurice “Mo” Buford, D.Min.; PhD - Senior Fellow

Grady Summers, M.Min - Senior Fellow

Corporate Training Unit
– Team Leader

Fredrick “Fred” Barber, DSL - Senior Fellow

International Trade & Entrepreneur Studies Unit Jay Styles, Team Leader

Warren Matthews, PhD -
Senior Fellow

Jason “Jay” K.N. Styles, MSBM
- research fellow.

Higher Education Team - Professor Jake Aguas, Team Leader

Jake Aguas, MOL - research fellow. Professor Aguas joined the CLI in September 2018. With over 25 years of experience in the banking and market research industries. Jake has held leadership positions with two Fortune 100 companies and one of the country's top polling firms. He spent 15 years with JPMorgan Chase as a leader in its retail bank division and specialized in strategy, training, talent acquisition, workforce planning, performance management, and leadership development, serving as the Human Resources Manager for the Western United States, and Regional Sales Manager. Jake was actively involved in the JPMorgan Chase and Washington Mutual Bank conversion in Southern California, the largest merger in US financial services history at the time. He has been recognized by the California State Assembly and the City of Los Angeles for his contributions in business and organizational leadership.

Jake is an Associate Professor of Management at Biola University and teaches management, organizational behavior, and human resources at both the MBA and undergraduate levels. Jake speaks regularly on emotional intelligence, cross-cultural leadership, change management, and current topics impacting organizations. His areas of interest include the mega-trends impacting the global business environment, specifically regarding a multi-generational and changing workforce. As a consultant, Jake assists domestic and international organizations with leadership strategy, team building, training, coaching, and the design and implementation of human resource management functions.

Jake is bilingual in Spanish and holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from UCLA, a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership from Biola University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. Jake also earned a certificate in market research from Notre Dame University, sponsored by the American Marketing Association. Contact Professor Aguas at: jake.aguas@biola.edu

Chad Newton, PhD -