Our Story and Leadership

The Disruptive Element catalyzed into existence in 2014 when two seasoned (and somewhat burned out) female executives got together (over wine) and decided we wanted to change the world by raising self awareness—one person, team and organization at a time. We decided it was time to step up and be the change we wanted to see.

The Disruptive Element is for people serious about change.  We are about meeting people and organizations where they are and helping them uncover what works for them and what is getting in their way.  We are leaders, we are coaches, we are bold and we are fun!  We wanted to create a company passionate about helping people and organizations get what they want. 

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Laura Woodward

CEO (Compelling Experience Officer)

After 20 years as a senior leader in Information technology and operations, Laura decided she needed to focus on what she loved most...the people. She is passionate about making individuals, groups, teams and organizations the best they can possibly be. Laura is committed to creating experiences for individuals that take them out of their comfort zone in a safe, creative environment with a unique development approach. Laura is blessed with her wife of 16 years and one playful puppy. She takes time to rejuvenate through traveling, photography, and cooking for friends at her cabin in northwest Wisconsin.

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Paula Winkler

CMO (Courageous Momentum Officer)

When Paula was growing up she asked her dad what he did for a living and he responded, "Princess, I am in the people business.” It was years before she understood he was a doctor. Her father has since died, but he is smiling as he watches her run her “people business.” During more than 20 years as a CIO, COO and senior leader in numerous industries, she discovered her passion for leadership, working with and developing people and looking at how organizations and teams deliver results...or not. Paula has now been married for 20 years. She is now also a great-grandmother!


Donna Schumell

CDO (Cultivating Distinction Officer) 

From kindergarten teacher to tax attorney, and sports coach to executive coach, Donna has embraced career variety in a never-ending quest to help people live fully into their potential.  As a corporate senior leader and serial entrepreneur, she has consulted globally to improve the performance of high potential leaders and top performing teams. This unwavering passion has lead her to TDE, to focus her energy, thought leadership and humor to the “inside out” work of leadership, helping leaders scale their gifts.  Donna lives with her husband Bill in Wisconsin.  They love a cherished adult son Josh, great food, cheese and the Green Bay Packers (order subject to change).