toni benner.

lean + appreciative inquiry + play

With over 20 years of experience in facilitation, coaching, training and team development, Toni believes that real change happens when we ask intentional questions, engage in purposeful conversations, and take the time to reflect, analyze and test our conclusions.

Her distinct perspective has made her a sought-after “difference-maker” for executives and organizations across diverse industries, including healthcare, military, automotive, and academia.

A keynote speaker, instructor, coach, and organizational change agent for over two decades, Toni Benner believes that what we say—and how we say it—can have huge impact on our potential to grow, self-reflect and lead. True change, moreover, requires specific and concrete steps as well as opportunities for testing their impact.

Those beliefs have led Toni to develop an innovative methodology that taps into the benefits of strength-based lean methodology, appreciative inquiry and the experiential learning of play. That unique approach has been recognized widely for the breadth and depth of outcomes it helps generate.

Adopting those principles, rooted in strength-based socio-technical systems, Toni trains interdisciplinary teams and coaches individuals to work more efficiently and effectively. But her work is even more profound. Encouraging teams to go deeper through personal development work, Toni helps them reconnect with their purpose and align head with heart, creating more empathetic and valuable leaders who can then build more sustainable organizations.

A strategic-thinking partner, Toni has co-designed and delivered experiential training, workshops and summit programs for clients in the healthcare sector and beyond, including the U.S. military, 3M, Siemens, Michigan Medicine and Kaiser Permante. Her background in engineering and ability to master both divergent and convergent viewpoints helps her connect with technical teams and provide an important perspective beyond the analytical.

Toni is a lead instructor with the University of Michigan College of Engineering Division of Integrative Systems + Design professional certificate programs—currently teaching Lean Healthcare and Kata for Daily Improvement.

Toni holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Youngstown State University, a Master of Science in Engineering Management with a focus on Lean Enterprise Systems from Eastern Michigan University, and an Executive Supply Chain Management Certification from the University of Michigan.

She’s currently completing her Master of Science in Positive Organization Development & Change, Coaching and Appreciative Inquiry at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.

“My purpose is to listen, connect, serve and inspire others.”


Toni Benner is a keynote speaker, coach, instructor and organizational change agent—with 20 years experience.
Key Achievements
  • Designing an Appreciative Inquiry summit for a team of U.S. Army engineers
  • Launching a four-tier certification program based on lean principles, appreciative inquiry and play
  • Facilitated Strategy Sessions based on SOAR framework
  • Worked with University STEM Center executive team to set their vision and strategic priorities
Lean Healthcare
  • Healthcare Facilities Symposium
  • European Wound Management Conference
  • World Union of Wound Healing Society Congress
Academic Credentials
  • Master of Positive Organization Development & Change, Case Western Reserve University
  • Master of Science in Engineering Management, Lean Enterprise Systems, Eastern Michigan University
  • BSAS Electrical Engineering, Youngstown State University

Professional Development
Certifications & Advanced Learning
  • Executive Supply Chain Management Certification, University of Michigan
  • Faurecia Lean Enterprise Systems
  • Lean Manufacturing Certification, University of Michigan
  • Delphi Automotive Lean Enterprise Systems