Life and Death and Leadership (Adrian Sheppard)

Episode # 38

Mar 6, 2024

What can business and organizational leaders learn from a fire chief? Quite a bit. Adrian Sheppard shares his perspective on leadership when the role is highly public, you have competing constituencies, and service is a matter of life and death.

Welcome to To Lead Is Human. This show helps listeners envision how they can uplevel their leadership and shape cultures of accountability, respect, and candor.

Adrian Sheppard is the Fire Chief for the City of Redmond, Washington, overseeing all of the city’s fire, rescue, and emergency medical services.

“ I see leadership as this competency-based power curriculum. You're always spiraling up and learning more as you go along. But it's built upon the things you learned previously. ”

Adrian Sheppard
Adrian Sheppard

Adrian Sheppard is a distinguished fire service leader deeply committed to public safety, community service, and the principles of social justice, equity, and environmental sustainability. His multifaceted career, enhanced by a tenure as a commissioned officer in the military, showcases unparalleled leadership, strategic foresight, and a dedication to crisis management. Adrian's educational background includes advanced degrees from Penn State University, the Naval Postgraduate School, Grand Canyon University, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, underlining his pursuit of excellence and lifelong learning. 

His certifications, such as Executive Fire Officer and Fire Officer II, further highlight his commitment to professional development. Adrian's leadership philosophy extends beyond emergency response, emphasizing creating inclusive and equitable environments and implementing sustainable practices to ensure the well-being of communities and the planet. He envisions a fire service that responds to emergencies and actively contributes to building a just and sustainable society for current and future generations.

He currently serves as the Fire Chief for the City of Redmond, Washington; previously served as Fire Chief in Richmond, California; and started in fire service by rising through the ranks from Firefighter to Battalion Chief in Oakland, California.

Sharon Richmond

For more than 30 years, Sharon Richmond has partnered with C-level executives from mid-size and small, fast-growing companies who want to up-level their leadership and build companies they are proud of. Clients accelerate their leadership by embracing mindset and behavior changes, building self-awareness and self-management skills, and focusing on the three things all leaders must ensure: focus, energy, and delivery.

Sharon’s purpose as an executive coach is to help leaders 10X their impact by leveraging the power afforded by their roles to build organizations that are forces for good, both economically and socially. She also advises CEOs on shaping organization culture and leading change.

Sharon has taught leadership at Stanford GSB, where she now helps leaders increase influence, manage conflict, and prepare to build high-performing teams.

Resources or websites mentioned in this episode:

Special episode note

At the 22:46 mark, Chief Sheppard mentions actions his department took to learn from the tragic death of Elijah McClain at the hands of paramedics in Aurora, Colorado. For more information and details on this case, go to


  • Guest: Adrian Sheppard
  • Host: Sharon Richmond
  • Producer: Cynthia Lamb
  • Executive producer: Danny Iny
  • Assembled by: Andrew Chapman
  • Audio Editor: Marvin del Rosario
  • Music soundscape: Chad Michael Snavely
  • Making our host sound great: Home Brew Audio

Music and SFX credits:

Every business leader has a huge impact on their organization. In this podcast, Sharon Richmond interviews successful leaders who have turned personal growth into tangible business outcomes. They discuss overcoming challenges, lessons learned and what helps them make a positive impact in their organization. Sharon offers insight and advice to help listeners envision how they can supercharge their own leadership by blending the art and science of leading with intention.

To learn more about To Lead is Human, visit

To catch the great episodes coming up on To Lead Is Human, please follow us on Mirasee FM's YouTube channel or your favorite podcast player. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a comment or a starred review. It's the best way to help us get these ideas to more people!