Our Founders


Fiduciary Responsibility, Portfolio Management, Investment Policy Statements, Leadership, Stewardship & Governance.


Don is a leading authority on leadership and its integration with regulatory and professional standards of care.

Don has authored or coauthored over twelve books on leadership, stewardship, governance, fiduciary responsibility, and portfolio management. He was the principal founder and former CEO of fi360, and was the course developer for the AIF and AIFA designations.


Don has been named by numerous organizations as “one of the most influential people” in the retirement, financial planning, and investment advisory industries. In 2003, he was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor to represent the investment counseling industry on the ERISA Advisory Council, and in 2007 he testified before the Senate Finance Committee on fiduciary issues associated with retirement plans investing in hedge funds.


Positions held:


  • Director, Institute for Leadership, U.S. Coast Guard Academy

  • Principal Founder and CEO, fi360

  • Founder and President, Foundation for Fiduciary Studies

  • Author/co-author: Prudent Investment Practices; Freedom from Wealth; The Management of Investment Decisions; Procedural Prudence; Fiduciary Ethos; The Management of Native American Investment Decisions



Donald B. Trone, L5

Mary Lou is a Co-Founder of 3ethos and Founder and President of 1920West - the affiliated coaching arm of 3ethos.


She and Don Trone co-authored LeaderMetrics®: What Key Decision-Makers Need to Know When Serving in a Critical Leadership Role.

Mary Lou has 30 years of leadership experience working with Fortune 100 companies, including Procter & Gamble and International Paper, as well as helping entrepreneurs create successful enterprises.

She holds an MBA in Marketing and Organizational Behavior from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a BA in Business Management and Economics, cum laude, from North Carolina State University. She has been certified as a Coach by the International Coaching Federation and as a Professional Behaviors Analyst (CPBA) and Professional Motivators Analyst (CPMA) as well as in several Korn Ferry/Hay Group instruments.


She is on the faculty of the 3ethos Leadership Boot Camps and speaks, coaches and writes on leadership.​


Mary Lou Wattman, L5

Rear Admiral Steve Branham, USCG (retired) is a founding partner of 3ethos. Steve has more than 40 years of experience in leading large operating and administrative elements of federal, private, and non-profit organizations.  


He is a former Chief Financial Officer for the U.S. Coast Guard, responsible for the development, Congressional approval, execution, and accounting of the Coast Guard’s $10 billion budget.  He commanded the Seventh Coast Guard District, leading more than 11,000 people in the performance of all Coast Guard missions in the southeast region of the US and the entire Caribbean region.  He has served in top-level leadership positions in the private sector and currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of the SunCoast Blood Bank ($15 million non-profit) and as Chairman of the Town of Longboat Key Consolidated Pension Fund Board managing $35 million in assets.


Steve served as the:


  • Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District

  • “CFO” of the U.S. Coast Guard

  • Commanding Officer, USCG Cutter Gallatin

  • Commanding Officer, USCG Cutter Harriet Lane

  • Commanding Officer, USCG Cutter Neah Bay

  • Commanding Officer, USCG Cutter Cape Hedge


Rear Admiral, USCG (Ret.)

Steve Branham, L5

Professor Sean Hannah, Colonel USA (Ret) is an experienced senior leader, scholar, and leader development expert. He studies, teaches, and consults on exemplary leadership, leader development, business ethics, strategic thinking, and the building of high performing and adaptable teams and organizations. Prior to appointment to the Wilson Chair at Wake Forest he served over 26 years in the US Army, retiring as a Colonel.


He served as the Director of the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic, and the Director of Leadership and Management Programs, both at West Point. He served in command and staff positions in Infantry units in Europe, Cuba, Panama, Southwest Asia, and the United States, including combat with the 3d Armored Division during Desert Storm, and other contingency operations such as Operation Sea Signal (Panama and Cuba), and the control cell for Joint Task Force Los Angeles (LA Riots). Present in the Pentagon on 9/11, after the attack he was assigned as the Budget Director of Resource Services-Washington, the organization sustaining the highest casualty level in the attack, and led the reconstitution of that organization and its $32 billion dollar budget operation. 

He sits on the editorial boards of three major journals and has published over 60 papers on leadership in top journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, and many others.


He was recently recognized by the Academy of Management amongst its 19,000 members with the 2017 Practice Impact Award, recognizing his "contributions to research and theory in practice based studies and overall impact on managerial and organizational practices.”A highly experienced trainer and consultant, he has conducted over 450 executive education and consulting engagements in the US, Europe, and Asia, with clients amongst the world's most successful firms such as Deloitte, DOW, GE, 7-11, IBM, P&G, MetLife, Wells Fargo, etc; including 16 CEOs.


Professor of Management, Endowed Wilson Chair, Wake Forest University

Dr. Sean Hannah

Dr. John J. Sumanth is the James Farr Faculty Fellow, an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and an Associate at the Center for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University's School of Business. Prior to joining Wake, John spent two years as faculty at the Edwin L. Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas.


An award-winning teacher, John has been recognized at multiple institutions (Wake, SMU, & UNC) for teaching excellence.John's broad areas of research interest and expertise are in leadership, employee voice / upward communication, trust and the role of power and status in organizational hierarchies.


To date, his work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Business Ethics, Personnel Psychology, the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Organizational Psychology Review. John serves as an Editorial Board Member for the Academy of Management Discoveries journal, and an invited reviewer for the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Business & Psychology and the Academy of Management's annual conferences.


He is a member of the Academy of Management's Organizational Behavior (OB) and Research Methods (RM) Divisions, the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and has presented his work at the annual Academy of Management, SIOP and INFORMS conferences. John holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), an MBA in marketing and management from the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida and a B.S. in industrial engineering (cum laude) from the University of Miami. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key, Tau Beta Pi and the Iron Arrow Honor Society, the University of Miami's highest honor. 


Prior to academia, John spent nearly a decade working in a number of high-profile strategic planning, marketing, and R&D positions. His extensive corporate consulting experience includes coaching, teaching and mentoring coaches and student-athletes, senior-level executives, and top US military officers and government personnel on how to enhance their leadership effectiveness.


Associate Professor of Management & Organizational Behavior; Center Associate, CLC; James Farr Fellow

Dr. John Sumanth