SDL is a family-owned firm created in 1999 by founder, Renée Montoya Lado originally named, Strategic Designs for Learning. Our first business plan described an Organizational Development and Corporate Training firm serving the greater Denver, CO area. These early clients were local, closely held, often family-owned firms. Clients soon recognized that our process and agility could be effective in pursuit of their total mission.

By 2001, our client base grew nationally and our services expanded to include Strategic Advising and Executive Coaching. Also at this time, more and more of our clients demonstrated a real need for professional advising regarding their family/management/governance challenges. Renée’s background in executive management, counseling, and political organization positioned SDL to be a pioneer in this brand new field of Family Advising.

Since then, we have established ourselves as the gold standard of Family Advising and continue to innovate in this important, evolving field. Family Advising is a true multidisciplinary practice that exists at intersections of Ownership, Management, and Governance. Many firms are expert advisors in any these stakeholder groups, but few have twenty years of fluid, operating experience in all three at the same time.

Our Principals

Renée Montoya Lado

Renée Montoya Lado

Principal and Founder

Renée founded Strategic Designs for Learning (SDL) in 1999. SDL specializes in working with family owned businesses, their families and their governance boards. Renée is an organizational development practitioner with forty years of strategic leadership experience and consulting with small, mid-range and large companies in a broad range of fields, including the manufacturing, corporate real estate, hospitality, technology and insurance sectors.

Previously, Renée was Executive Vice President of Talent Development for an international firm that provided information technology and consulting services in the private and public sectors. In this position she was responsible for both line and staff operations internally as well as for external coaching with senior executives, senior officers and executive teams.

Renée holds advanced degrees in Behavioral Psychology, Policy Analysis and Pastoral Psychotherapy and is certified in the use of numerous assessments and instruments including the Caliper Profile™, HR Chally Instrument™, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™, the Center for Creative Leadership’s Benchmarks™ Instrument and Corporate Development Group’s Culturetek™. She has developed a number of proprietary tools that can be used with family owned businesses including Executive Dimensions™, The Success Print™ and A Family Mosaic™. She is a Certified Wealth Advisor through the Institute for Preparing Heirs and is a member of the American Psychological Association, Association of Managers of Organizational Design, American Counseling Association and Organizational Development Network.

Christian Montoya

Christian Montoya


Christian joined SDL in 2009 with a mandate to model and systematize our firm’s expanding custom client solutions. He brings twenty years of information technology experience and ten years in family advising to the firm’s leadership.

Prior to joining the firm in 2009, he was the technical lead of numerous design and implementation teams, specializing in information security and regulated environments. In his last technical assignment, he was responsible for FDA-regulated information systems in a pharmaceutical firm during the years that it transitioned from a specialized subsidiary to the months preceding its IPO in 2009.

In addition to client services, Christian drives the firm’s Personality Analytics initiative. He specializes in assessment data analysis and is certified in the use of the Caliper Profile™, HR Chally Instrument™, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™, EQ in Action Profile, and Hogan Judgement Assessment.