Coaches, Entrepreneurs, Business Partners | Student Spotlight: Joan Dickason and Joanne Pappas Nottage

Graduating from FMCA is a proud accomplishment full of excitement, commitment, and inspiration! And even with the nurturing support of the FMCA community, starting your own coaching practice—being a “solo-preneur”—might seem daunting.

Coaches, Entrepreneurs, Business Partners | Student Spotlight: Joan Dickason and Joanne Pappas NottageFMCA alumni and entrepreneur coaches Joan Dickason and Joanne Pappas Nottage know this well. With backgrounds in coaching and marketing respectively, Joan and Joanne connected as students in FMCA’s July 2016 Class. After graduating in June 2017, they wanted to extend that precious sense of community fostered by the FMCA and share their knowledge and experience with fellow students who were just starting, or restarting and rebranding, their wellness careers.

Thus in the fall of 2017, their paths led them to start the “Thrive in 5” program together. The course is designed to prep coaches with everything they’d need to know and do to get their practices started. Joan and Joanne know how important it is for new coaches to focus on the basics and build momentum step by step, so their program “helps to define who you are as a coach, identify your target market, craft a marketing plan to reach your audience, set up your digital footprint, and create a business plan that meets your financial and personal goals.” It’s the perfect way to bring together these two grads’ marketing savvy and passion for coaching.

Here’s how they got to this point.

Joan’s Story

Joan says it would come as no surprise to past Thrive in 5 students that her top three character strengths are creativity, humor and perspective. She’s known for her straightforward, candid comments, vivid storytelling, and out of the box thinking. She loves to make you laugh, and challenges everyone to examine an issue from all sides. And like so many other FMCA students, coaching is an ‘encore’ career for Joan.

Coaches, Entrepreneurs, Business Partners | Student Spotlight: Joan Dickason and Joanne Pappas Nottage 1

While living in Southern California for most of her adult life, she found it easy to integrate healthy eating and functional and fun exercise with work-life balance during her career in Information Technologies for a Wall Street firm. She loved to cook and entertain, was an avid hiker, and shopped at her local farmer’s market every Saturday.

In 2003, she was offered a promotion and accepted the transfer to New York City, which meant relocating to suburban New Jersey. The long commute, longer work hours, excessively stressful and competitive work environment at the headquarters office, coupled with ever-changing weather, presented the first round of health challenges. During a brutally demanding two-year project, she realized that her body was crippled by chronic pain and could not keep up. Change was necessary!

As she reconnected with her love of a healthier lifestyle, Joan began to search for a new career anchored in wellness, hoping to teach other mid-life career-minded women that success need not come with sacrificing your health. She accepted an early retirement package, enrolled in a coach training program, and launched her coaching business, Crossroads Nutrition, LLC, in 2012.

But this wasn’t the end of her journey. She continued to struggle with a medical community that offered her little help except for medications. That’s when she read “The Disease Delusion” by Dr. Jeffrey Bland and discovered Functional Medicine. Ironically, she gave the book as a gift to her doctor, who became an IFM student the following year and learned about IFM’s collaboration with the FMCA, which they passed back to Joan! She applied to FMCA the very next day…


Joanne’s Story

As a Thrive in 5 mentor, Joanne is a knowing, enthusiastic, kind, and compassionate role model for all new coaches and is passionate about helping others succeed. Her top character strengths are kindness, love of learning, and love. And long before her personal health struggles led her to become a coach, she was the ‘doctor’ and go to empathetic resource to her friends and family. Later on, these character traits led her to be a business mentor to colleagues and inspired her to start her own Marketing Strategy Consulting firm to help others launch, expand, and grow their businesses.

Coaches, Entrepreneurs, Business Partners | Student Spotlight: Joan Dickason and Joanne Pappas Nottage 2

As a chemical engineer with an MBA in marketing, Joanne is currently a Business and Marketing Manager for a global company from San Francisco. She is painfully aware of the challenges many coaches face when juggling a full time job, a growing private practice, and a family business with the need for diligent self-care! She brings 35 years of business and marketing experience, as well as her recent venture with her own part-time private practice, Embrace Functional Health, LLC, to the team.

Despite her professional success, it was her personal health transformation, which began in 2013, that inspired and motivated her to make a career transition and help others on their journeys to better health. While working, she enrolled at FMCA and became a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach (FMCHC) to inspire and empower people to take charge of their health.

As an FMCHC, she empowers her clients to learn how to thrive despite their diagnoses by offering hope and help based on her own struggles and success. She is especially passionate about helping those in search of a new approach to addressing autoimmune disease, chronic illness, and other challenging health issues. Her message is clear: “there is hope, and you can improve your quality of life!”

Why? Because she herself feels better now than she did for years, and is thriving despite multiple autoimmune diagnoses. Diagnosed with her first autoimmune disease as a child, she pursued the path of conventional western medicine for years with many different doctors, yet her overall health continued to decline, and she got sicker and sicker every year despite being a motivated and compliant patient.

As a problem-solving chemical engineer, she wanted to understand what was happening and why. After developing new symptoms and more diagnoses, she found her path to better health by adding a Functional Medicine approach.


What’s Next for the Thrive in 5 Team

While their personalities are quite different, Joan and Joanne make an incredible team,  complementing and completing each other as mentors and business coaches. They have collaborated to create all their course content, they co-facilitate the live student calls, and students find that they get different but equally valuable feedback from each of them.

Joan and Joanne collaborated to create the first class of “Thrive in 5” in the fall of 2017 to share their breadth of experience and passion for helping with the FMCA coaching community. It was so successful that they up-leveled the program for the spring 2018 session, housing the content on a self-contained e-learning platform. The next class starts November 3 and they are ready to help coaches kickstart their practice in the new year!

To learn more about Joan, Joanne, and their work, check out

The initial concept for Thrive and 5 was created by Raewyn Guerrero, another FMCA graduate, who shared her idea for creating a coach launch program with Joan and Joanne. Rae has since moved her focus to her Well Works collaboration in London, leaving the program in the capable hands of Joan and Joanne for all future sessions. They are grateful that Rae brought them together! We all wish her well in her future endeavors.

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