about us

Ascend Talent Strategies helps organizations achieve a higher level of success by delivering evidence‐based insights into their most challenging and ambiguous people issues.

Our business and organizational psychologists dive deep, working collaboratively with clients to help them identify, develop, and lead the most important and misunderstood part of any organization: people. With over 100 years of experience, our doctorate-level experts are more than talent experts. They’re experts in using talent to generate tangible business results. Whether we’re working with leaders, teams, organizations, a family business, or government agencies, we can help you unlock the power of your people and the potential of your talent.

we’re ascend talent strategies.

our team

  • ATS

    Julie A. Unite, Ph.D.



    Dr. Unite trained as an industrial and organizational psychologist.  She has more than 15 years of experience working in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Julie’s experience has focused on assessment, career development, and coaching for individuals across all sectors. Julie draws from a background in educational and counseling psychology and extensive one-on-one consulting experience to provide clients with successful ways to deal with workplace issues.

    Julie also has experience training individuals and teams, and she enjoys facilitating their development using approaches such as personality assessments, emotional intelligence and mindfulness techniques. Julie’s professional and academic experience in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States also allows her to understand and apply a multi-cultural perspective in all aspects of her work.

    Julie’s research experience also complements her consulting experience, and she has developed career development tools and strategies for implementing effective training programs. She is an active collaborator in the 5C Group; A cross-cultural group examining the dynamics of people’s careers around the world. The group encompasses more than 30 countries and provides insights into how to manage and lead a multi-cultural workforce. Julie is published in academic journals as well as having book chapters in areas including managing career change and transition, human resource strategies for leading a diverse work force, and managing the Millennial generation.

    Julie earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Adelaide, Australia in psychology and physiology and an MSc in Organizational Psychology from the University of London, England. Her Ph.D. is in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Northern Illinois University. She is a member of the Australian and British Psychological Society, the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology and the Academy of Management.

  • our team

    Robert E. Young, Psy.D.

    Co-Founder, Business Psychologist


    Dr. Young is a co-founder and licensed business psychologist with Ascend Talent Strategies, Inc. For over twenty years, Bob has delivered leadership assessment services designed to help his clients identify internal and external candidates that fit the role requirements, the cultural context, and potential for future roles. He also facilitates team effectiveness assessment and training, organizational effectiveness assessment and development, succession planning, and he also offers very action-oriented, practically focused executive coaching services. He assists private equity firms and client organizations with M and A due diligence and integration. He helps his clients plan and execute their vision, mission, and strategic goals using a proprietary cloud-based software and disciplined execution process that has been shown to raise collaboration and accountability across the organization. Bob has a special interest in assisting family owned and operated businesses with generational transitions, succession planning, and growing their family legacy.

    Bob began his consulting career by going from graduate school in psychology to being commissioned as an Active-Duty Captain in the United States Air Force. He played an active role in consulting with command staff at three different Air Force bases during his military career on a wide range of issues, including fitness for duty evaluations, leadership development, anti-terrorism joint forces command team effectiveness training, and Aircraft Mishap Investigation and Prevention. Since 1999, he has been serving the Wisconsin business community by delivering individual, team, and organizational assessments and developmental services. He works across many different industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, insurance, legal, manufacturing, food and beverage, government, and private equity. In 2019, Ascend Talent Strategies, Inc. was launched to provide a unified platform for Bob and his partners to serve clients that believe what they collectively believe—namely; “the organizations that invest wisely in their greatest assets, their people, are those that outlast, outmaneuver, and outperform their competition.”

    Bob has a B.A. in psychology from Hope College in Holland, Michigan and his doctorate in psychology (Psy.D.) from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He is married with one daughter and two dogs, who are also considered members of his family. Bob’s hobbies including hunting, motorcycling, gardening, nutritional science, and youth ministries at his church.

  • team

    Russell J. Barcelona, Ph.D.



    Dr. Barcelona is a co-founder and licensed business psychologist with Ascend Talent Strategies, Inc. For over twenty-five years, Russ has delivered an insightful and evidenced-based approach in the areas of leadership assessment, succession planning, organization cultural transformation and executive coaching. He blends a highly quantitative/scientific industrial psychology background with his robust intuition (of people) and an in-depth understanding of a client’s business.

    Russ worked on the inside of an action-oriented human resource department of a multi-billion dollar organization early in his career. During his early career, he played an active role on a national task force for testing and personnel research within the electric utility industry. Since 1997, he shifted his focus to playing significant partnership roles in two Industrial/Organizational Psychology firms. His clients span industry sectors including manufacturing, insurance, food production and law firms. He continues to engage with Fortune 500 clients, governmental agencies, private equity firms, merger and acquisition due diligence activities and entrepreneurial start-ups. In 2019, Ascend Talent Strategies, Inc. was launched to capitalize on a forward-leaning and contemporary approach to providing customized I/O Psychology services and consultation to leaders, teams and organizational clients.

    Russ has a B.S. in psychology from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Illinois Institute of Technology. He is married with five children and six grandchildren and has the eclectic interests of gardening, home-brewing, soccer, Nordic Noir books, fishing and back-country hiking.

  • elizabeth

    Elizabeth M. Fleming, Psy.D.



    Dr. Fleming is a business psychologist with Ascend Talent Strategies, Inc. For over ten years, Elizabeth has worked with small and large businesses to transform their organization by delivering a wide range of solutions tailored to her client’s unique needs. Elizabeth integrates her strong interest and academic background in the psychology of people when leveraging evidenced-based approaches in the areas of talent and leadership assessment, succession planning, HR transformation, learning and development, and executive coaching. Having worked internally on action-oriented Human Capital and Talent Development teams, Elizabeth has successfully launched multiple leadership development and early-career programs and brings a strong expertise in instructional design. She has leveraged a strong knowledge base in effective change management to facilitate the process and adoption of a large company merger and collaborated on developing standard operating processes aimed at creating more efficiency, productivity, and cost savings.

    Elizabeth has a B.A.S. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota – Duluth and completed her M.A. and doctorate in psychology (PsyD) in Counseling Psychology at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She is a member of the Minnesota Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology. She is married with two children, a dog, and several fish. Elizabeth’s hobbies include reading, volunteering with several non-profit agencies, and advancing the science of Psychology in the workplace.

  • our team

    Allie Donnelly

    Accounting Manager


    Prior to joining Ascend Talent Strategies, Allie acted as the comprehensive support person for a financial advisor. Allie has her Bachelor’s Degree in Nonprofit Business from North Park University in Chicago, IL. Her outside interests include dogs, anything artsy, and exploring Wisconsin.

  • team

    Libby Steeber



    Libby has her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Before joining Ascend Talent Strategies, Libby worked in several sales and customer service roles. When she’s not working, you can find her curled up with a good book, binging the latest TV show, and hiking with her husband and dog.

  • Leah

    Leah Brand

    Executive Assistant


    Leah attended North Park University in Chicago and received her Bachelor’s degree in Advertising, as well as in Psychology. When she’s not working for Ascend, you can find her working on her family photography business, fixing up her old house in Saint Paul, Minnesota, or going on walks and exploring the city with her husband and dog.