“The entire process, from deciding to look for an executive director to eventually hiring one, was very successful. You were very helpful throughout, providing a clear and simple path for us to follow. Thank you.”

Jack Schuler and Tanya Schuler Sharman Co-Founders, Schuler Scholar Program

At Acorn Advisors, we advise leaders of nonprofit organizations—including foundations and government—on matters related to mission and vision definition; board of directors governance, dynamics, and selection; strategic planning; succession planning, leadership development and coaching; enterprise risk management; and generational preparedness for family transfer of civic leadership.

Whom we serve:

Our principal clients are board chairs, CEOs, and other leaders of nonprofit institutions, as well as public and private corporations and foundations that make philanthropic investments.

What we provide:

We tailor our approach for each assignment, first gaining an in-depth understanding of our client’s particular needs, and then developing a set of practical, understandable, and implementable recommendations.

What we believe:

Sustainable success for any organization must be built on a strong foundation supported by a clearly stated and well-understood mission, strong governance principles, strict adherence to an enduring set of core values, unwavering respect for all people, and willingness to embrace change and adapt as necessary. Successful leaders understand this as well as the power of aligned, inspired, and engaged employees who are dedicated to meeting customer needs while always maintaining the highest ethics. Successful leaders recognize that strategic and operating plans should be both aspirational and realistic, balancing the inherent risks and rewards of any course of action. Also, truly successful leaders always put the health and well-being of the organization they represent above their own personal gain, remembering that it is they who serve the organization rather than the other way around.

Why we are different:

We bring a unique blend of complementary skills and extensive CEO, executive management, and board of directors’ experience in both Fortune 500 corporations and major cultural and civic institutions. Our experience includes museums and other arts organizations, botanic gardens, conservation and environmental alliances, civic and charitable institutions, public and private foundations, universities, industry associations, consulting firms, private equity firms, and corporations focused in healthcare, financial services, agribusiness, and aerospace.

How we work:

We are practical. We see ourselves as “clock-makers.” We recognize that a truly effective organization should be guided by an aspirational vision, but be built with the highest-quality gears and casing; one without the other will not thrive and endure. When formulating our recommendations, we will pay special attention not only to to our clients’ overarching mission, vision, and strategic plan, but also to the governance structure, operations, and supporting activities that make for successful execution over the near and long term.  We are mindful that any recommendations will only be successful when we have taken into account the perspectives of all of our clients’ stakeholders.