The Virtue of Integrity

In ancient times, the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Socrates contributed to a leadership model that includes the building of character and virtues. Today, scientific research confirms that organizations steered by virtuous leaders have a greater chance of sustaining success over an extended period of time than organizations whose leadership is corrupt. Portara Consulting is based on this principle. We provide an effective process for encouraging the development of executive leadership that embraces integrity, reverence, compassion, justice, courage and emotional temperance. Building on these qualities, we help leaders release untapped potential – within the individual and the business.

Karen Foster, Ph.D.

Karen Foster, Ph.D.
Karen Foster, Ph.D. is the founder of Portara Consulting LLC. A licensed psychologist, she takes an organic approach in her coaching and consulting work, and focuses on building and leveraging strengths. In her career she has worked in healthcare, and consulted or coached leaders in Fortune 500 companies, mid-size businesses, family owned businesses, academic institutions and technology start-ups.

Her psychotherapy work is influenced by her psychodynamic and psychoanalytic framework. She is also influenced by Levinson's Adult Development Theory and Relational Psychotherapy.

Dr. Foster’s executive advisory practice is based on carefully orchestrated offerings that emphasize strategic leadership, executive presence, and team collaboration. The company’s services reflect Karen’s philosophy of working closely with aspiring individuals who recognize that clarifying their personal sense of purpose helps to achieve alignment in all their activities and spheres of influence.

In a constantly evolving field, Karen is dedicated to staying in step with the latest advances in leadership and human development, from both the psychological and behavioral perspectives. She is an active member of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Consulting Psychologists, and served as Conference Chair for the organization. Prior to founding Portara Consulting, Karen served on the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Psychologically Healthy Workplaces and as the Georgia Psychological Association’s Policy and Procedure Chair. She has presented to private industry and professionally.

A zeal for travel ranks high on Karen’s interests. She both balances and complements her professional career by enriching her life with people in places throughout the world.

Knowledge Domains:
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Theory and Dynamics
  • Politics
  • Group Dynamics and Human Relationships
  • Individual Dynamics, Managing Human Diversity and Learning
  • Theories and Methods of Behavior Change
  • Theories and Methods of Expertise Development
  • Human Influence
  • How to Help Leaders Find and Solve their Problems

What sets us apart

Compassionate Leadership

In order to keep an eye on the bottom line, many leaders believe they must disavow the side of themselves that projects generous, heartfelt compassion for others. Simultaneously maintaining that compassion, along with a strong grasp of the state of the business, is vital for effective leadership and organizational success. Virtuous and compassionate leaders have a deep sense of serenity and a moral compass that sets them apart from others. Such executives attract trust and attention. We choose to listen to them because they offer a beacon of light to cut through the jumble of data available to us.

Reflective Inquiry

Appreciating the individual’s personality traits, we delve into an executive’s psychological core through a process of inquiry with leaders and managers. Dr. Foster participates in the inquiry, directing a productive discussion that furthers thinking and strategic engagement with others. As appropriate, she leads the inquiries in private sessions away from the business, or in the work environment. This reflective method is effective in either setting, and helps to advance small changes – in individuals and in teams – into qualitatively different patterns.

Optimized Instability

Sustaining high-performing cultures for extended periods of time is not an easy task in corporate cultures that are constantly changing. Stability is an illusion. Dr. Foster focuses attention on unpredictability and paradox, because she knows that in a shifting organization, individuals need to be comfortable enough to face bad news, solve problems, and perform with optimism. This level of confidence involves basic assurances: that there will be clarity in conversation, transparency in actions, and the team knows what to expect in each other. These constructs make the difference between working teams and those that are teams in name only.

Our Name

"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom"
–Aristotle 384 – 322 B.C.

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction"
–Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955

From Aristotle and Plato to Einstein and philosophers of today, the virtues of courage, justice, temperance and wisdom have been characteristic of highly effective leaders. Our company’s philosophy borrows from these virtues, as well. Even our company name reaches back to antiquity. On the Greek island of Nexus the remains of a huge marble structure, the Portara, still beckons people to go within. We do the same, encouraging you to create your vision for success.