I've been consulting since 1998: in a boutique firm, then a national one, and as an independent since late 2010. Consulting is my second career. I went straight to law school after receiving my undergraduate degree (French and music performance) at the University of Iowa. It didn't take long to realize that the courtroom wasn't for me and return to graduate school. There, I prepared for a new direction studying nonprofit management and public policy analysis with a healthy dose of program evaluation thrown in. This new course of study led me to the world of private philanthropy and then to consulting.
I spent the decade before hanging up my shingle in the nonprofit consulting group of a leading accounting firm where I was part of a dynamic practice with local (Minnesota), regional (upper Midwest), and national clients. It dramatically deepened my experience as:
Your field guide in the complex world of nonprofits and local government:
the once and future musician who became
a trained mediator, funder, and evaluator
a recovered attorney with government experience
raised in the South with Midwest and international roots
Put it all together and I bring a strong analytical background to your situation, the ability to draw individuals out for a robust discussion, and a passion for helping others do their jobs better.
BTW, I am fully vaccinated and more than happy to provide proof of such should it be required.
Sara is a consultant to nonprofits, government, foundations, and community groups. She provides practical governance and board development assistance; designs and implements a wide range of planning and facilitation processes; evaluates programs; and assesses organizations.
Since 1998, she has assisted hundreds of organizations – from small, all-volunteer start-ups to a multi-billion-dollar funder. Her portfolio has spanned the United States and included projects in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
From 2000 to 2010, Sara was part of LarsonAllen LLP's national consulting practice. During that period, she led organizational development, planning, program evaluation, and search engagements; presented on governance, evaluation and organizational change; managed the firm’s annual nonprofit conference; and managed marketing efforts within the firm’s nonprofit and government consulting group. She left the firm in 2010 to set up her own business –
guiding clients in strategy,
governance & management.
In the years since then, she has been honored to serve new and old clients in a busy solo practice.
Prior to LarsonAllen LLP, Sara developed expertise as a funder and an attorney, serving as a program officer to the James Ford Bell Foundation in Minnesota and as a litigator for the Iowa Department of Human Services, Child Support Recovery Unit. At the foundation, she managed a place-based grantee collaboration, administered grant programs, and maintained information systems for the philanthropic consulting firm in which the foundation was housed.
Sara’s education includes graduate study at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs master’s program in nonprofit management. She received a juris doctor with high distinction and a Bachelor of Arts in French/music from the University of Iowa.
She is a partner member of the Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRiP) and a consultant member of BoardSource (Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting, 2018).
Her community service has included officer roles with WFIU Public Radio’s Community Advisory Board, the Monroe County Humane Association, the IAP2 USA Midwest Chapter, the Textile Center of Minnesota, and the Humphrey Institute Alumni Board; as well as work on the Nonprofit Alliance of Monroe County's training/outreach committee, the IAP2 USA board of directors, the Charities Review Council's marketing committee, and the League of Women Voters of Minneapolis' advisory board.