About Katherine M. Sauer, Ph.D.

Katherine M. Sauer, Ph.D. is the founder of Burnout Proof Leaders, a holistic leadership development practice focused on high-performing, purpose-driven Millennial and Gen Z leaders. Her quick, calming, workday-focused guided meditation tracks are available on the free Insight Timer platform. As an artist, Katherine creates works featuring bold geometrics and themes from the economics discipline, primarily in acrylics and mixed media such as paper, fabric, and glass.

To cope with the demands of professional life, Katherine began exploring various work-life wellness disciplines in 2008. She discovered yoga and meditation were powerful stress management tools, adopted good sleep hygiene to cure three decades of insomnia, cleaned up her diet, and learned to take good care of herself during work travel while still performing at a high level. In parallel, she curated frameworks and honed competencies related to personal productivity and email, leadership and management, challenging communications, change leadership, strategy, and coaching.

Bismarck, North Dakota is Katherine’s hometown but you'll have to listen closely to hear any trace of that accent. Colorado is where she’s called home for the past two decades. She enjoys creative pursuits like painting and dancing and loves to travel. She is an avid meditator and loves the metaphysical side of life. Katherine is an herbivore and enjoys plant-based gourmet cooking. Puns are her preferred style of humor. Her last name is pronounced "sour” like a lemon.

Katherine Sauer standing on a lookout across Lake Tahoe Katherine Sauer presenting at a conference Katherine Sauer doing a yoga pose on a beach at sunset Katherine Sauer serving on a panel Katherine Sauer standing in front of the gulf of mexico off of florida
Katherine Sauer speaking into a microphone Katherine Sauer hiking in Death Valley, CA Katherine Sauer wearing a headset Katherine Sauer doing a headstand in a rice field in Bali Katherine Sauer gesturing during a presentation

Katherine has earned credentials across a diverse array of disciplines.

  • Certificates in Personal Energy Awareness and Intuitive Energy Reading from Leanne Holitza;
  • Professional Coach Training from Co-Active;
  • Certificate in Change Leadership from Cornell University;
  • Certified Holistic Nutritionist; Certified Weight Management Specialist; Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant from AFPA;
  • Reiki level I and II certificates from Lisa Powers;
  • Certified Yoga Teacher from Yoga Pod (a Yoga Alliance accredited program);
  • Nonprofit Leadership Executive Education from Center for Nonprofit Management, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University;
  • Mental Health First Aid USA from National Council for Behavioral Health;
  • Doctorate in Economics from University of Colorado, Boulder.

A voracious learner, she is always learning something new through intensive self-directed inquiry (e.g., somatics and neuroscience, quantum physics and metaphysics, gourmet plant-based cooking, etc.).

Career Act I (past)

Katherine began her career as an economics professor and had an active research agenda in the areas of intellectual property rights in the international trade context (e.g., parallel imports), the market for medical tourism, and the scholarship of teaching and learning economics and personal finance. She was honored with numerous teaching and research awards and accolades.

Alongside her professorial endeavors, she was active in the K-12 teacher professional development space. She has personally trained over a thousand Colorado teachers on the academic content standards for economics and personal finance, delivered engaging trainings on economic and personal finance concepts, and developed an on-demand curriculum for elementary teachers.

Katherine was invited to design and deliver a multi-week faculty development training for the entire business school at Eurasia University in Xi’an, China. She helped launch their center for teaching and learning, perpetuating best practice for scholarly inquiry and the science of student-centered pedagogy.

Katherine was the inaugural director of financial wellness, education, and research for the University of Colorado system, overseeing programming for employees and students. In this role she administered a prestigious multi-year grant from the Council of Graduate Schools, managed the $3 billion employee retirement program’s transition from a vendor model to a recordkeeper and open architecture model, and created a nationally-recognized employee financial wellness program. In this role she became a frequently-requested speaker and facilitator.

During an 18-month personal sabbatical, Katherine created and released FocusMinder (an app with quick, workday-focused guided meditations), fulfilled the intensive training required to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children, earned several credentials as a nutritionist, and became certified in Reiki.

At a boutique investment consulting firm, Katherine served in a high-visibility role doing the firm’s educational outreach as a leadership and financial education speaker. She oversaw the team of retirement plan analysts and coordinated RFPs for recordkeeper searchers. She also served on the capital markets research team, responsible for monitoring the global macro-economic environment, asset allocation modeling, and portfolio construction.

As the vice president at National Endowment for Financial Education, she oversaw the $200 million operating foundation’s research, programs, and strategic impact. In this role, Katherine served as a national expert on financial well-being research and programs and was a sought-after speaker, delivering engaging presentations, insightful panel participation, and high-profile remarks (e.g., U.S. Congressional briefing).

At the end of 2020, Katherine stepped down from her role at the endowment and away from the financial wellness space.

Career Act II (present)

Katherine founded Burnout Proof Leaders, a holistic leadership development coaching and training practice focused on serving high-performing, purpose-driven Millennial and Gen Z leaders.

She is currently working on building out the business (with an eye towards scaling) and establishing a mature portfolio of business lines across online education, speaking, and high-touch coaching.

Having retired FocusMinder in 2022, she has been re-releasing her guided meditation tracks on the free Insight Timer platform.

Her book Frictionless: Using authentic motivation for a career of effortless momentum is due out in late 2024.

Career Act III (future)

After scaling and bringing Burnout Proof Leaders to maturity, Katherine has her sights on fundraising a $500 million independent endowment with the mission of catalyzing, fostering, and amplifying endeavors that promote systemic change that unleashes human capital.

You can learn more about Katherine’s professional endeavors on LinkedIn.