Looking back on her life thus far, Claire Durrell said she feels like she’s had nine lives — or at least five or six of them — based on how many times she has pivoted professionally.

Before founding LEAD (Ladies Elite Athletic Development) — an Eastside leadership development program rooted in strength training, which focuses on what Durrell calls “mind-muscle conditioning,” and leadership development — in 2017, Durrell thought she might go into veterinary medicine.

“I was a total animal lover and my dad is an ER physician, so I grew up around medicine,” Durrell said. “Then we did take-your-daughter-to-work day, and I saw some pretty gnarly stuff and I said, ‘OK, maybe medicine isn’t for me.’” 

Next, Durrell obtained a degree in sociology and Spanish literature from Santa Clara University and spent several years living abroad in Spain and South America, where she became fluent in Spanish, and later moved to Washington, D.C., to teach Spanish. That didn’t work out, either.

“Teaching in a classroom setting just wasn’t for me,” Durrell said. “I remember my mom, who was a teacher, saying, ‘You know if it’s your calling.’ I realized pretty quickly that I had not been tapped with that.”

As a stop gap, Durrell took a job doing marketing for a national real estate firm, which enabled her to transfer back to the Seattle region. After years of travel, Durrell finally found herself closer to home, yet she said she still felt adrift. That’s when the then-25-year-old sought assistance from a career counselor.

“I was absolutely certain that I was going to have to go back to grad school for an MBA, and he said, ‘I want you to take home this MBA curriculum, and I want you to circle all the classes that light you on fire,’” Durrell recalled. “I went home and circled two classes; they were both electives that were psychology-based.”

Durrell attended Seattle Pacific University and graduated from the industrial and organizational psychology program before working for several years in leadership development. But she still wasn’t done pivoting. One day while testing a work presentation on her then-11-year-old twin girls, Durrell had an epiphany.

“How neat would it be to take some of these concepts around giving and receiving feedback and make it into a workshop that would be beneficial to a middle-school-aged group of girls?” she asked herself.

And that’s just what Durrell did. With the help of college friend Teanna Blees, LEAD is helping the young women of Generation Z prepare to enter the workforce by refining their networking, conflict-resolution, and time-management skills while strengthening their bodies.

Keep reading to see how this pivoting powerhouse spends a typical day.


Morning Coffee

6:10 a.m.
Let’s get this party started right with a standard java jolt with The Coffee Bean’s French brew and almond milk.

Breakfast with kids

6:50 a.m.
Breakfast with all of my kiddos. These meetings are critical, as we strategize on who’s doing what after school. 

Kids watering garden

7:30 a.m.
I watch my littles water our experimental herb garden before they head off to pre-kindergarten with their dad.

Personality Archetype

8 a.m.
I put the finishing touches on our LEAD Advantage Personality Archetype guides; these binders are available for our clients in the LEAD room and help to fuel our post-workout discussions.

LEAD Class

9:30 a.m.
The first LEAD crew of the day arrives. We are chatting about performance nutrition, and how we all approach food journaling and macro tracking differently per our LEAD Advantage personalities.

LEAD meeting

11:15 a.m.
Time for a team meeting at the Bellevue Club to finesse the final outline of our LEAD Talk Shops — an innovative series of leadership- development workshops.

LEAD Workshop

11:45 a.m.
We take the time to review our experience launching LEAD’s Personal Branding 101 workshop with Sammamish High School students. These kids are the future, and they give me so much hope.


Today I’m having chicken parmesan with hot sauce, sweet potato puree, broccoli, and wild brown rice for lunch.

Emily Brand

1:30 p.m.
I meet with Emily Brand for an afternoon strategy session about bringing a new female empowerment brand to the Eastside.


3 p.m.
Did you know LEAD has a partnership with women’s athletic clothing store Athleta to host mother-daughter sweat sessions?

Grocery Shopping

5:15 p.m.
A quick grocery stop at Met Market at Houghton Plaza on the way home. I love Met Market; they have stellar produce, and I always ogle their flowers.


6:45 p.m.
Jeff and I let our younger twins wind down at Hidden Valley Park while watching our son act as umpire at a local softball game.


8:35 p.m.
As the day comes to a close, I watch the sunset off our back deck with the girls. I don’t always let them stay up this late on a school night — scout’s honor.


9:30 p.m.
This book was gifted to me by a fellow female youth leader, and I love it. I’ll do a short read before bed, and I’ll be lucky to get 10 pages in before conking out.

Photos Courtesy Jen Mueller