top of page


Brave Fire Leader Academy - Online Cohort

I had enrolled in what was supposed to be the IAFC Southwestern Association of Fire Chiefs Leadership Academy scheduled for April, 2020 in Albuquerque, NM. COVID-19 came to town and derailed everyone’s plans during this time. Kelly and Dan went to work to put this conference style program into a virtual format that we all could still participate in. I must say this was one of the most valuable learning experiences I have had thus far in my career.

As a new Fire Chief, I found the content to be relevant and timely to both today’s fire service, as well as, to my new department. The ability to meet with my cohort weekly and discuss real-world topics and challenges bolstered the learning process for me. The mixture of personnel in my cohort also added value to the learning as we were a very diverse group from different ranks and geographical locations. Additionally, the virtual platform allows great flexibility in attendance and completion of the assignments.

If you are looking for expertly guided learning from top-shelf subject matter experts, you cannot go wrong investing in this opportunity.

  • Derek Briggs, Fire Chief, Forney Fire Rescue

Interview Preparation and Graduate of the High Performance Leadership & Coaching Academy

Kelly, I wanted to let you know that I was the top scoring candidate for the Fire Marshal position and officially accepted the job today! Also, I received a 7/7 on the interview and the evaluators all commented that it was the best interview they have ever heard! I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help! I couldn't have done it without you!

  • Chad Berlin, Fire Marshal, Pinetop Fire Dept

2019 Bay Area High Performance Leadership & Coaching Academy

“Another leadership training, the same old information just regurgitated by someone.” This was my initial thought heading into this academy, but boy was I ever wrong! Kelly and Dan are a fantastic team! They bring leadership training to a completely different level and add a view unlike any other leadership training I have ever attended. Kelly’s lifetime experience in both Fire Department Human Resource and the real-world experience add a unique twist when facing those difficult conversations that front-line Officers and your Command staff are presented with. Her presentation using “crabs in a bucket” has helped me to realize that I have potential to grow and it is vital for me as an individual and officer to do so!

       Dan has the love and passion for the Fire Service as a retired Fire Chief. Yet his real to himself and those he serves attitude strengthens and causes you to look inwardly to grow into a better Officer. His genuine desire to create better leaders who consistently look to strengthen those around them and themselves is captivating.

I truly look forward to my future as an Officer in the Fire Service, and I know the tools that have been presented in these few days will stick with me throughout my time in the Fire Service. For this I thank you both! I highly recommend this course for any and all individuals looking to enhance their leadership skill sets.

  • Charles Mead,  Engineer/CEP, Pinetop Fire Dept

2019 Columbia High Performance Leadership & Coaching Academy

"I am relatively new to Hall County Fire Services in Gainesville, Georgia.  This is my 36th year as a Firefighter / Paramedic and was brought here to head up the Training Division.  Our fire chief had the foresight to schedule 90 % of our leadership staff for this training and it proved to be a worthy effort indeed.  It was money well spent.

With the latest shift being made to online training, the opportunity to meet and rally in one place provided an enormous benefit as we engaged the leadership class together.  From the beginning, requiring individuals to mix with other participants and not sit with your departmental staff, exemplified the foundation that new challenges were ahead of us.  It was a beautiful blend of lectures, in-depth discussions and practical applications that took our interaction to another level. It was much more than a class, it was a complete program from top to bottom.

Kelly and Dan are experts of their discipline and were able to delve into the issues of several departments at one time.  A real masterpiece of something so simple as a roll call or staff meeting. Players were picked, everyone getting a chance to play, as the audience circled around and got to feel what being in the hot seat was all about.  Realistic, and true to life. Well planned, expertly organized and the entire program implemented with making the audience think about our actions in the field.

The Academy actually only planted the seed as we were stimulated on growing our own leadership ability and talent.  Many courses you take throw out the subject matter and then you go home. That seed that Kelly and Dan planted grew from day one where our own team was able to discuss many topics that had never been on the table before.  The Ten Commandments of the company officer, the real true value and responsibility of that officer is only one among many ideas that we were destined to consider in our daily lives as leaders. The program for us was a game-changer in every sense of the word.  This program has taken us on a journey that we now see turned our department around.

The follow up mentoring and coaching brought an additional layer to the skill set we discussed in the class setting.  That added benefit allowed each of us individually to speak with other trained academy members on their team and drill down to current topics long after the conference was over.  I praise the effort of the Leadership and Coaching Academy and highly recommend you take the time to attend."

  • Kevin Johnson, Training Chief Hall County Fire Services, Gainesville, Georgia

"Virginia Fire Chief’s Academy has broadened my horizon of the importance of being a leader is not only earning your stripes coming through the ranks but the professional relationship and the things you learn as you climb the ladder of success in your career. At an early age, we all have those mentors that mold and shape us as our parents, teachers, instructors that are the building blocks for what we are now and what we will be passing on to the next generation of leaders. I am very grateful to Chief Jones and Kelly Walsh who took the time to share their experiences and how to implement change in situational issues into productive, strong, diplomatic policies to help improve employee’s performances. As someone who has extensive leadership training, including a Master’s Degree in Leadership, I can say hands down that there is no training out there for the Fire Service that reaches this level. I don’t know of anyone else in the nation that is doing what Jones and Walsh are doing and was pleased to be a part of this Academy."

  • Charles Vannatter, Building Official/Fire Marshal, Wytheville Fire Department

​“Being honest, I had never heard of Kelly Walsh prior to 2017. I imagine, like most of us in the fire service industry, I focused my attention on Leadership Training through more traditional sources. As soon as I read the announcement for the initial High Performance Coaching and Leadership Academy in Oklahoma, I got excited. Nearing retirement, I had been looking for that definitive leadership class for my direct staff reports. I wanted to find training that would enhance their ability to compete for my position. To say the least, I found that class!

The Academy covers so many of those intangible leadership skills and abilities that we never learned, much less could practice, in Organizational Development class. Class participants dig deep into problem solving, communications, team building, empowerment, conflict management and global thinking. The class keeps you engaged through role play, scenarios and the Socratic method of instruction.

My Deputy Chiefs were so taken with the Academy, we brought it to Lexington County for every officer in the department. The rate of return is incredible and is increasing each day. As a follow up to the Academy, each officer is involved in four coaching and mentoring sessions with Kelly and Dan. Having the unique opportunity to gain from the experience of these two professionals is an invaluable resource for our seasoned and newly promoted officers. Our Public Safety Director plans to expand the training to the both EMS and 911 Communications staffs.

I highly recommend this Academy to anyone looking to provide “real world” leadership instruction to their department!”

  • Brad Cox, Fire Chief (ret.) of Lexington County, SC

"My time at the VCOA was very well spent. From the morning PT to the evening fireside chat and all the classroom in between far exceeded my expectations. I was not sure what to expect with 40 “type A” personalities sharing experiences and sleeping quarters for a week. The classes were well structured and beneficial to today’s work environment. The lectures from Kelly and Dan were insightful and thought provoking. To break up the lectures there were group exercises, mock morning meetings, and guest speakers to help make you think. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at VCOA and believe that others will have the same experience."

  • Doug McCabe, Battalion Chief, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue

"I had a great experience at the VCOA in 2017. The College setting was a great place all around to learn. The daily class schedule and subject matter did broaden my knowledge. The best part with the group we had, were the daily discussions on numerous topics. The hole experience has given me new insights into my leadership. The coaching and mentoring sessions drove home many of the points taught in the classroom. I have actually put many things to work within my company. The entire process helped me grow not only as a fire service leader but as a person. Thank you to all who were involved with this great experience. I highly recommend higher learning and education."

  • Tom Gherman, Captain, Roanoke Fire EMS Department

tom gherman.png

"This experience was exceptional! The academy provided an excellent opportunity for collaboration with other fire service leaders. Kelly and Dan shared valuable knowledge and experiences that has assisted me greatly toward leading an organization."

  • Michael Talley, Fire Chief, Kitty Hawk Fire Department

"I approached Kelly Walsh and Chief Dan Jones because we were in need of an officer development program that provided a combination of learning through traditional classroom methods combined with individual coaching. Kelly and Dan helped me by providing a customized program that fit our needs as a growing and evolving fire rescue department.

The Kelly Walsh Consulting Team developed an engaging and supporting learning environment that allowed new and experienced officers to learn from seasoned instructors and each other. I particularly liked their ability to customize the offerings to fit our needs. I found the overall experience to be fulfilling and valuable, and I would recommend Kelly, Dan to departments that desire to take their officer develop program to the next level."

  • Dan Eggleston, IAFC President and Fire Rescue Chief of Albemarle County Fire Rescue

"Chief Brad Cox approached me and Dean Anderson about attending this Leadership Conference. We were a little leery at first because it was the first time it had been offered. It was a long way away for us to travel, my partner hates flying. I have attended many different training classes and symposiums but this one is different. The Coaching and Leading approach was great but you have to have the right people managing the class. Your experts in the field hit a home run. I truly built relationships with Dan and Kelly that will be there for a long time. I feel I can call them and discuss my career and personal life at any time. They are great people to start with but professional to the CORE! I feel so strongly about this training that we are requiring all of our OFFICER’S to attend the class. We are bringing the class to them next year in an effort to raise the Leadership bar for our entire staff. Thanks for the opportunity to learn, share and grow."

  • David Fulmer, Deputy Chief of Administration, Lexington County Fire Service

"I was just a few months into my job as fire chief when I enrolled in the SWFCA Leadership and Coaching Academy. I thought my years in the fire service had better prepared me for my new role but I soon realized there are a lot of issues that are unique to this position.

The actual class days were very beneficial as we delved into a variety of important topics and heard from people with diverse backgrounds with a wide array of perspectives.

But I think the ongoing mentoring and coaching sessions with Chief Jones and Kelly were the most beneficial. They helped me develop strategies to deal with a seemingly overwhelming number of projects and were great to bounce ideas off of. Their experience and dedication helped me more than I can say. I want to personally thank them for all of their help."

  • Jon Kiernan, Fire Chief, Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma Fire Department

"The 2017 SWFCA Leadership and Coaching Academy was well worth the time and effort. The instructors were knowledgeable, professional and genuinely cared about the success of the attendees. The format of the class was very accommodating with just a portion occurring in the classroom and subsequent classes online. The mentoring and coaching phone sessions really personalized the experience and allowed for one-on-one, idea-sharing time with the instructors. It was very helpful to gain perspective and insight from somebody from outside of my organization."

  • Benny Fulkerson, Battalion Chief, Oklahoma City Fire Department

"I would like to let you know how beneficial the Virginia Chief Officer Academy has been to me. During our week together we received so much information that is was almost too much to process. Now that we have completed one mentoring session and one coaching session it has reinforced all of those concept we received in class. This type of academy format has also made me realize that I have not been the mentor/coach that I need to be. With your help during our coaching session I am going to start a program in my own department to foster this type of leadership that the fire service is missing. Thanks again for all of your help and future help with this crazy idea."

  • Shawn Lazar, Battalion Chief, Hampton Division of Fire and Rescue

"I had the honor of attending the Inaugural Virginia Chief Officer Academy in July of 2016. Chief Dan Jones and Kelly Walsh were the facilitators for this program, and I am extremely pleased with the content of their presentations. Furthermore, the countless years of experience between the two of them allowed them to inject personal successes and trials that they had to face over the years. I have attended a number of training sessions and classes on topics that Dan and Kelly discussed at this Academy, but due to their instruction method I was able to connect the dots and make sense of my previous training. As I have told many of my comrades involved with Fire Service Management, Dan and Kelly provided me with the “link” that was missing in my proverbial “Management Chain”. I would recommend any Fire Department to invest in their Management Personnel by including Dan and Kelly in their training plan."

  • Jack McGovern, Lieutenant, Fredericksburg (VA) Fire Department

"The Virginia Chief Officer’s Academy with instruction led by Kelly Walsh and Chief Dan Jones (retired) was an executive leadership preparatory class unlike any other that I have attended. The instructors facilitated tough discussions on current topics, required participants to use abstract thought to overcome obstacles, and provided instruction on proven techniques to lead an organization into the future. The combination of human resources experience and executive fire officer experience provided a pinnacle learning experience for all attendees. I highly recommend this class and any class lucky enough to secure the instruction and leadership provided by Kelly Walsh and Dan Jones."

  • Philip Burkett, Captain, Albemarle County Fire Rescue

bottom of page