Stephen Kelner

co-founder and Managing director

Steve Kelner is Managing Director of Ascent, where he oversees leadership assessment and developmental practices. He brings over 25 years of expertise in the nature of top leadership and how to evaluate and develop it, advising global firms, including creating the leadership evaluation process for the two leading executive search firms. He also serves as CHRO and a board member for Ascent.

Prior to joining Ascent, Steve served as the Global Thought Leader for Assessment and Development at Spencer Stuart. There he drove the advancement of all Spencer Stuart’s assessment, reporting, and developmental methodology, developing consultant and corporate capability as well as consulting to global clients on executive assessment, CEO succession planning, transition and developmental support, board effectiveness, and organizational change.

Previously, Steve developed the assessment and development methodology at Egon Zehnder, including their leadership and potential assessment, development, team effectiveness, and board review approaches while working with clients globally.

Before his seventeen years associated with the search industry, Steve was Senior Director of Services for WebCT (now Blackboard), building the consulting and training arm of the leading provider of online platforms for higher education. He came to that from the Center for Quality of Management, a nonprofit focused on mutual learning for executive leadership.

Steve started his career with seven years with Hay/McBer, ultimately as a senior consultant and director of new products and services, including co-creating the first valid set of scaled leadership competencies.

Steve received a PhD in personality psychology from Boston University, a masters of education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

He has multiple publications, both fiction and nonfiction, including numerous articles on leadership and a book on motivating writers and creativity, and is a member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.