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Jeff Snyder – A story of courage, strength and inspiration

Jeff Snyder – A story of courage, strength and inspiration Recruiter and coach for security professionals overcame tremendous adversity to leave lasting legacy in life cut short by ALS

Jeff Snyder – A story of courage, strength and inspiration

YARMOUTH, Maine—Jeff Snyder held many titles in his short life – recruiter, coach, husband, father, entrepreneur. But perhaps his greatest achievement was how he continued to influence and inspire so many security professionals, even while battling an insidious disease that would end his life much too early.

Snyder accomplished a lot in his short life, balancing his athletic endeavors with his recruiting and coaching efforts in a way that could only be described as remarkable. Nothing would stand in his way of any goals he set out to achieve.

Hockey Battles

Let’s first take a look at his athletic achievements. He played baseball and basketball as a kid, and moved on to softball, volleyball, and tennis as an adult. But it was love for ice hockey that really showed Snyder’s grit and determination.

In 2010, at the tender age of 43, Snyder started playing ice hockey for a recreational team, having had no prior hockey experience. He ended up playing more than 700 hockey games from 2010 through 2019, but that does not even begin to tell the story of what transpired during those nine years.

Shortly after playing in his 75th hockey game, in September 2010, Jeff suffered a heart attack despite having no preexisting conditions.

While having a stent put in, doctors discovered an aortic aneurysm that had not yet burst. He was monitored for three-and-a-half years until he needed open heart surgery in April 2014 to repair the aneurysm. After recovering from that surgery, the heart surgeon told Snyder to live his life normally and cleared him to continue playing hockey.

In September 2018, while skating in the first period of a hockey game, he collapsed on the ice. This time, he was having ventricular tachycardia, which caused him to go into cardiac arrest. He was given CPR and was shocked with the rink’s defibrillator before being rushed to the hospital. He spent several days in a medically induced coma, with no one knowing of he would ever wake up again.

Snyder not only woke up from the coma but, with the doctor’s permission, he put his skates back on and played 50 more hockey games before he suffered a mini stroke that affected his balance.

Even that did not stop Snyder. He got his skates back on again and played 29 more hockey games until his biggest physical challenge reared its ugly head. 

In October 2019, Snyder was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks cells in the brain and spinal cord needed to keep muscles moving, leading to muscle weakness and paralysis. This incurable, terminal disease eventually robs a person of the ability to speak, eat, move, and even breathe.

Snyder went from being an active and athletic human being to not being able to walk or take care of his daily needs.

Recruiter and Coach

Along with his athletic exploits, Snyder was a self-employed entrepreneur for most of his working years.

In 1994, after working in someone else’s recruiting firm for a few years, he started his own executive recruiting firm, Jeff Snyder Coaching, which specialized in recruiting and placing information technology (IT) and security executives.

Snyder added performance coaching to his business in 2008 and served as a coach and mentor to many IT and security professionals.

“Clients and job candidates challenged me to provide coaching services,” he said on his website, “I listened and responded by doing research to find out what businesses wanted, needed and expected from technology and security professionals. I learned about the gaps that commonly exist between technology professionals and the organizations the serve.”

After acquiring training and certifications focused on coaching, Snyder created Resume Coaching, LinkedIn Coaching and Personal Branding Coaching services to assist clients with their personal branding and marketing.

On an even more strategic level, Snyder provided Career Coaching, Career Transition Coaching, CliftonStrengths Coaching, Executive Coaching, Leadership Coaching, Emotional Intelligence Coaching, and Behavioral Change Coaching services.

“Everything assembled in the realm of my coaching has been in response to what the businesses have told me that they want, need and expect in order for technology and security professionals to advance and move forward,” he said.


Snyder’s coaching skills allowed security professionals to maximize their potential in the field.

Min Kyriannis, CEO, Amyna Systems, was among those who benefited professionally under the tutelage of Snyder.

“I met Jeff at the end of 2015/early 2016, when I was working at a job that I needed to transition myself out of,” she told Security Systems News. “He talked to me on the first phone call, helped me with my resume and essentially changed my outlook on how I need to look myself professionally.

Kyriannis cited one of Snyder’s coaching techniques, the CliftonStrengths Finder assessment that explains how you are uniquely powerful, as a catalyst in her success as a security professional.

“When he suggested I take the CliftonStrengths Finder, I didn’t understand what it was,” she said. “He helped explain and navigate what the strengths were. It was a moment of self-discovery and also pointed out areas that I needed to strengthen and watch out for. He believed in me and provided advice on how to act professionally. He helped me gain the confidence I needed to persevere myself and propel me in my career.

“He never used the word hope, he always said you will. It was a mindset that he taught - never doubt yourself.”

She called Snyder “courageous” when asked how he continued to provide coaching services with the health obstacles he faced later in life.

“He loved life!” Kyriannis stated. “He was always handling his disease with courage and couldn’t stay put. His love was coaching, and he coached until the very end.”

Greg Biegen, CISM CDPSE, Director, Global Cybersecurity at Quest Software, also shared a story of how Snyder set him on the right path for a career in the security industry.

“Back in 2017 I just got home from a job I was not enjoying (that is an understatement) or even applying myself to my potential,” he explained. “I thought I would find a recruiter that would help me find a job where I was not a ‘check mark’ or the dumping ground for every security initiative that they heard of.  I did a search and Jeff Snyder’s name came up under So I reached out. In one call Jeff was doing his special magic and immediately understanding who I was. I had no idea who I was, but I had what Jeff liked, which was a ‘want to’ attitude. Well, that one call led to my career coaching with one brilliantly intelligent man.”

Biegen also reflected on his conversations with Snyder regarding his struggles with ALS, as Biegen’s own mother died of the debilitating disease.

“I remember he and I talked one day about my mother who died of ALS. It was an interesting moment talking about a subject I kept very close,” he noted. “In true Jeff Snyder fashion he listed with intent and engagement, showing me how my strengths could have helped me understand and handle my emotions at the time.  

“Fast forward a few years and Jeff calls me up to say ‘Hi.’ We chatted and then he dropped the news that he was diagnosed with ALS.  My heart sank knowing what the outcome is for such a diagnosis.”

Yaron Levi, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Dolby Laboratories, discussed how Snyder’s coaching led him to take on a new role in the security industry.

“After four years as a CISO for a health insurance company, I felt that I maxed out and that I needed a change,” he said. “However, I wasn’t sure what to do next; I was struggling a little to define what I am looking for. Jeff’s coaching provided me with clarity about the role and type of role and organization I should target, and also how to approach it.

“I explored several options, and ultimately decided that the right thing for me at that point of time was to join Dolby as their CISO. It was a great decision that I am very happy with.”

Levi also pointed how Snyder always made the most of his time to influence others and reach their fullest potential, despite knowing that the end was near.  

“Jeff was a remarkable human being. He proved that it doesn’t really matter what your life situation is, the more important thing is that one always has a choice what to do about it,” he explained. “Jeff knew exactly where he was headed, he knew there was no escaping ALS, and the path was going to be very painful. But he taught me that because of that certainty, he had no fear, and he used his time wisely to do the best work of his life and inspire others to reach their max potential. He leveraged his situation and provide us with perspectives to put some things we have been struggling with in a different light.”

On a personal level, Duaine Styles, SVP and Chief Security Officer, Torchmark Family of Companies/Globe Life, described how Snyder guided him through a very difficult time in his life.

“I first met Jeff at a security conference many years ago as he was beginning to pivot from recruiting to coaching. His talk was on moving to a higher level of leadership, balance, and influence by knowing yourself better,” he said. “I was going through a time of high stress from the process of losing both my parents while both my wife and I were experiencing significant health problems. It would be fair to say that I was almost perpetually emotionally hijacked at the time. I introduced myself by saying ‘I need all of that.’”

Styles summed up Snyder’s commitment to continue coaching security professionals in the midst of the pain and suffering he had to endure in his final years.

“Jeff had a true calling in his life to help people reach their potential. He was the most genuine person that you can imagine,” he explained. “His personal commitment to his calling created an environment of purpose that you could almost feel as a physical force. He lived totally committed to everything he pursued.”

David Lam, Partner/CISO, Miller Kaplan, pointed out that Snyder was not an ordinary coach.

“Jeff could see things that the rest of us could not. He could give us insights into our behaviors that let us take the next step in getting better. And, because he understood information security, he could deeply help us be better at our jobs.

“The most important thing that Jeff taught me was to slow down when using my strengths. It's been invaluable when I explain technical security issues to laypersons and I can hear his voice in my head, ‘Slow down, make sure they understand.’ In talking with others who were lucky enough to be influenced by Jeff, I realize that Jeff identified each of our special strengths and helped make us into better leaders.”

“Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth”

Snyder passed away from ALS on June 16, 2021, at the tragically young age of 54, leaving behind a wife, Wendy, and two kids, Isabelle and Abby.

In announcing his passing, Wendy cited one of the most famous lines in baseball history, one that came from the New York Yankees great whose name is synonymous with the disease which claimed her husband’s life.

“Despite the frustrations of his illness and his major physical limitations, you all made the end of Jeff’s life the most joyful time, and to quote Lou Gehrig, Jeff felt like ‘the luckiest man on the face of the earth.’”


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