Explore. Clarify. Achieve.
At Workbench, I partner with mission-driven leaders to identify and take the next big step. We work together to make sense of complicated questions, reframe challenges, find new ways of seeing, and generate the clear path forward. I have collaborated with hundreds of social sector leaders whose passion and effort make our world better each and every day. I would love to help you deliver your vision.
Working at the intersection of people and ideas to drive human centered progress.
I work with organizations to facilitate key growth projects including strategic planning, new program development, new market explorations, and organizational changes. Sometimes it takes the experience, independence, and focused energy of an outside voice to guide these strategic projects. I approach the work as a facilitator and coach to build ownership while guiding the steps, framing critical questions, tackling key tasks, and integrating findings.
Together, we'll tackle your top objectives. When you’re in a leadership role or leading a new initiative there are few people with whom you can be completely open and fewer still who understand the challenges of mission-driven organizations. I am an experienced nonprofit professional and advisor who can serve as your thinking partner, confidant, motivator, and change leadership partner. You can learn more about my approach here.
Your team, board, and community have exceptional insights and ideas, but bringing it all together can be tough. Moving ideas forward can be even harder. I facilitate conversations, explorations, retreats, and collaborations with your team, board, and other stakeholders. I will help you design productive sessions, integrate ideas, ask the challenging questions, and come together around your answers.
If you are building training for your team or to deliver as part of your programs, I can help. I’ve designed and led top-tier education programs and workshops for social sector professionals both online and in-person. I can work with your team or take the lead to design services, create content, deliver training, and support action learning programs.
Founder, Workbench Consulting
My joy comes from helping people find new answers - untangling the knots and finding new ways forward. That’s my personal superpower and it’s informed by a lot of work experience with for-profit and nonprofit ventures. I’ve helped run a national nonprofit organization. Created training and support programs for hundreds of social sector professionals. Provided consulting services to organizations in media, international development, health, arts and culture, and other sectors. I've worked in venture-backed startups and with Fortune 500 companies, and bring a very customer-centered, creative business mindset to my projects. I’m a Stanford business school graduate who cares deeply about how we build an ever more just, peaceful, and joyful world.
A few examples of the steps I've helped clients take through creative engagement.
An international NGO had grown to lead $60M per year in initiatives. Now funder priorities were shifting. The CEO saw the need to clarify their value promise and understand where to focus investments. I worked with the CEO and her senior staff in a hands-on strategic planning process that was as much about building culture as it was conclusions. I introduced a planning framework for the project and led senior team meetings, brainstorming and discussion sessions for broader groups, deep dives by staff teams, and the integration of our work into a concise vision statement.
My client was taking over a new organization where his chair expected breakthrough ideas in short order. We worked together to design a two-day visioning retreat for leaders from the eight divisions in the organization. We used an online “post-it” board to engage the team in advance in exploring three powerful questions, which created a collective picture of the current environment. I then facilitated on-site sessions to identify themes, illuminate internal barriers, generate broad exploration, and dig deeper on a set of exciting concepts. The retreat set the direction and tone for their continued push on mission.
A top university was building a new leadership program for social entrepreneurs. They asked me to figure out a marketing course aimed at organizational leaders rather than marketing professionals. I built an online course that challenged participants to take on a marketing mindset in their work. We worked on developing a customer-centered perspective, defining their value promise, and seeing how all their actions - from program design to communications - combine to deliver or weaken their promise. I adapted frameworks created for commercial businesses to fit the social sector.
“Jim was my partner throughout our strategic planning, providing light-touch navigation and critical frameworks to guide our thinking. This work transformed our organization, so much so that I continue to go to Jim when grappling with thorny organizational issues. And he continues to deliver.”
President and CEO,
"Jim was an incredible partner. We would not be where we are today, accelerating change and innovation in our schools and in our national work, if Jim had not created the conditions for us to articulate our vision, find a shared framework, and build the trust necessary to move forward together."
Dean, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University
"We were one year into a major expansion in our mission and programming. Jim’s ability to design board conversations, ask tough questions, and pull together all the different threads gave us the board engagement we needed to build
on our experiment."
"Jim helped us organize our thoughts before embarking on a strategy process. His questions and deep knowledge of a broad range of fields challenged our assumptions and gave us more confidence."
President and CEO,
National Arts Strategies
“In every meeting with Jim we have an 'aha' moment and leave with a stronger curriculum and learning experience. He connects dots that are difficult to see, and has an uncanny ability to distill and articulate the essence of what we’re trying to accomplish."
Chief Operating Officer,
Let’s set up a time to talk about where you are today and what you see coming next. We can get to know each other and start sketching a custom solution for your work.