Our Consultants

"We utilized Jim at a time when our organization was experiencing major changes. Jim helped us really distill down
to what was important to us and how we could utilize that knowledge to move forward. He is a true facilitator in that
he guided us towards our own conclusions, rather then imposing his own opinion or agenda on us. He also has a
wonderful sense of humor and warm manner which helped our team feel comfortable and encouraged everyone to
participate in the process. We would certainly use him again and recommend that others do as well!"



"Jim is well known and well respected nationally. He draws upon his experience helping hundreds of non-profits
at various stages of evolution to provide a thoughtful, carefully considered strategic perspective. He has been
a critical and nurturing resource -- helping us efficiently prioritize our focus in the early stages of establishing a
non-profit infrastructure. I would highly recommend Jim."


National Vice President of Development
Women of Tomorrow
Mentor & Scholarship Program

"The best strategic planning coalesces deep, unbiased organizational self-awareness of the present and creates
a comprehensive vision of the potential of the future. When everything falls into place, leadership has its organizational
assessment and road map, while the staff sees the soundness of the path before them. As the former Acting Director
for the Smithsonian Science Education Center, I watched Jim and his staff expertly guide yet deftly adapt their
consultation as they assessed our organization at a critical juncture as he helped it from beginning to end discover
its potential and path. In every meeting with Jim, he masterfully guided and reinforced our team as we made our own
plan. After reflecting upon the opportunity to work with Jim for over a year, I am both amazed and impressed at his
genius and subtly in helping us own our potential."



"There are few people in the universe I enjoy working with more than Jim Mueller. He and I have collaborated on
numerous client engagements. Jim's ability to clearly see strategic issues and interpret them through organizational
development is outstanding. Coupled with his expertise in fund raising counsel, Jim's marketplace offering is truly
unique. Jim's gift for collaboration and personal values make him a joy with whom to work. I am always amazed at
Jim's gift for structuring solutions as a direct result of his superb listening skill and the ability to relate to both senior
most management and the people in the trenches. "



"Jim is the brightest individual I have ever known. he can dig down to the source of problems and challenges quickly,
then find creative, yet practical, solutions to apply. He communicates in a thoughtful, articulate way and really knows
how to listen."



"Jim and I were part of a three-person team who conducted training for NGOs in Barbados. I found his knowledge
of all aspects of developing, leading, and funding non-profit organizations to be extensive. He conducts his work
with integrity, and he sincerely caries about the well-being of his clients. I encourage you to contact James Mueller
and Associates to see how Jim can help you grow and fulfill your vision."



"I placed Jim in a very challenging role that required exceptional finesse, intelligence, good business judgment,
and management strength to maintain leadership when challenged. He succeeded not only in staying the course
(which in itself is no small achievement) but in making significant impact on the business. He knows which battles
to fight and which to walk away from; and has excellent cat-herding skills."



"Jim Mueller is a master at understanding organizations and providing sound advice and direct engagement in
successful fundraising. He has succeeded at large development firms but, like me, chose to go with the individual
approach of offering trusted, personalized service without the baggage. I highly recommend Jim and enjoy working
with him as a partner."



"As I was the Chairmen of a local non-profit adolescent drug treatment center. Jim was hired to provide strategic
planning and leadership development. Jim's focus and energy kept us on task which allowed us to achieve our
goals in a very timely fashion. Even though it was just over two years ago we continue to use Jim's work as the
foundation that guides the direction of our corporation. The work he put in place allowed us a clear direction for
continued success"



"Jim's exceptional mentoring, feedback and creativity helped me create a focused and efficient program
with an emphasis on high-impact major gifts. I highly recommend Jim for any organization looking to
work with a seasoned fundraising professional with unsurpassed integrity, warmth and smarts."



"Jim's exceptional mentoring, feedback and creativity helped me create a focused and efficient program
with an emphasis on high-impact major gifts. I highly recommend Jim for any organization looking to
work with a seasoned fundraising professional with unsurpassed integrity, warmth and smarts."


President, The Wilderness Land Trust

"Jim is a strategic thinker with a strong passion for helping others. His work in the community continues to be
informative, engaging and progressive."



We help clients build extraordinary, high performing organizations that succeed in their missions.


We partner with clients to help them solve problems and realize their vision. Employing proven and best practices in the areas of organizational development, board development, and fundraising we help our clients build strong teams, develop a solid infrastructure, and raise financial support. We bring expertise in strategic planning, internal and external program reviews, feasibility studies, board recruitment and development, staffing and team building, fundraising and campaign counsel, performance and outcomes management, branding, and executive coaching.


James Mueller



Jim Mueller is president of James Mueller & Associates LLC (JMA), a national consulting firm that provides services in the areas of organizational development, governance, and philanthropy.


Using a range of proven tools and practices, the Mueller & Associates team helps organizations gain clarity, alignment, and focus—and thus improve their effectiveness.  His team helps clients clarify direction, focus, and strategy; strengthen governance; build strong teams; understand their culture and decision-making style; construct performance assessments; undertake internal and external studies; organize their fundraising endeavors; and conduct fundraising campaigns.  With every client, JMA maintains a focus on achieving outcomes consistent with the organization’s unique mission, values, and objectives.


Prior to consulting, Jim held leadership positions at Cornell University (Assoc. Dir. of University Class Affairs, Dir. of the Midwest Office), Northwestern University (Dir. of Development, Campaign Director), Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (VP of Enterprise Advancement), and Advocate Healthcare (VP, Bioethics Center).  He also served as COO of Grenzebach Glier and Associates, an international philanthropy consulting firm.  Jim has facilitated organizational development processes for a broad range of client organizations, including the Smithsonian Science Education Center, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Broward College, Broward College Foundation, Florida International University, University of Texas Law School, Palm Beach Healthcare Foundation, Special Olympics Florida, Alaska Wilderness League, and Montana Wilderness Association.


Jim has consulted to nonprofits in the Caribbean as well, including Barbados (Barbados Association of Nongovernmental Organizations) and Haiti (the Haitian Hometown Association.)  On the fundraising front, he successfully directed a $32M fundraising campaign for Northwestern University, and participated as a member of the fundraising team for Cornell’s mega-campaigns.  He has solicited 6- and 7- figure gifts and successfully recruited and collaborated with CEOs of Fortune 100/500 companies to provide leadership to nonprofit causes, including the CEOs of Amoco, Continental Bank, LaSalle Partners, Motorola, United Airlines, and Zumiez.  Jim is a graduate of Cornell University and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, with honors.


Margot Mueller



Margot Gassert is a professional writer, researcher, educator, and editor. As an advocate for her son, Luke, a neurodiverse teen who was integrated into the public school system, Margot researched, discovered and introduced new and innovative technology to classrooms to help teachers integrate effective methods for teaching neurodiverse students—and more importantly, to give them a voice.


Margot developed a consulting practice that works with individuals with neurodiversity, their educators, therapists, care providers, parents, and physicians to help them access and employ supportive software applications using the iOS systems and technology. She has been an abilities IT consultant to a number of schools and ability organizations.

After graduating from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a degree in International Relations, Law and Organization, she pursued a career in writing and the performing arts. Her first position was as an editorial assistant at Conde Nast Publications in New York, before moving to Chicago where she was an actor, singer, and dancer for nearly a decade. She appeared in both regional and national theatre, film, television, and advertising productions. In addition to performing, Margot was manager and writer for the Greenlight Performing Company, a performance troop that focused on bringing arts to schools and neighborhoods where they were missing, and using the seven learning styles to teach education concepts.


Linda Flynn



Linda Flynn is a partner with The Cultural Planning Group (CPG), a strategic alliance of James Mueller & Associates. She is a planner and expertly directs research and engagement for all planning projects.


Her research practice is grounded in the real-world experience of deep engagement and demonstrated knowledge of research design. Linda turns numbers into stories and textual data into themes, providing insight to create visionary and actionable plans. Linda believes in approaching research with a rigorous methodology and customizing methods to the client she is working with.

Her toolkit includes traditional qualitative and quantitative methods (surveys, formal interviews, discussion groups), online tools (virtual meetings, public engagement platforms), and ethnographic tools (natural group storytelling, informal interviews, observation techniques). Her planning clients include city governments, large cultural institutions, foundations, and higher education institutions. Linda’s past experience and relationships cross many industries, working with all levels in private, public, and non-profit organizations. Her work included strategic planning, marketing and branding, and behavioral research.

She holds a doctorate in Organizational Development/Conflict Resolution and various quantitative and qualitative research certifications, is a published research author, and a recipient of a quality of life research grant with Nova Southeastern University. Linda volunteers her time at several local nonprofit organizations focused on the improvement of youth educational experiences in the State of Florida

Kirston Fortune

Kirston Fortune



With extensive experience in messaging, research, and strategy, Kirston creates persuasive, articulate communications unique to each client that reflect a firm grasp of its mission, purpose, and objectives.


Kirston Fortune has worked on strategic planning, organizational development, marketing communications, and fundraising campaigns for research centers, non-profit organizations, independent professional schools, and professional schools associated with major universities. With expertise in content strategy, writing, editing, and donor communications across the campaign lifecycle, she has created development and campaign communications for fundraising campaigns ranging from $1 million to $150 million.


Before joining James Mueller and Associates, Kirston served as the Assistant Dean for Marketing and Communications at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law where she directed strategic communications for the Motion to Lead campaign, which exceeded its $150 million goal within eighteen months of public launch. She then led the team that developed and executed the implementation of the school’s transition to its new name—the result of an extraordinary leadership gift.
As Assistant Dean for Communications at the University of Texas, she served as communications lead for a fundraising campaign that raised more for the School of Law than any previous campaign in that school’s history. Her role at UT included extensive internal organizational and capacity development.


At the University of Chicago, she served as Director of External Communications for the Centennial Capital Campaign, which exceeded its $100 million goal.


She has edited award-winning publications, and worked with organizations to create development and marketing collateral—print and digital—to realize mission-critical marketing communications objectives.
Over the years she has held several board leadership positions at non-profit arts organizations. Currently, she serves on the development working group for the Chicago High School for the Arts and is active with community groups devoted to eliminating gun violence.


Kirston earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she focused on art history, theory, and criticism. She completed the publishing program at the University of Chicago’s Graham School and post-graduate study in marketing communications at Northwestern University.


She lives with her husband and two sons on Chicago’s West Side.


John Popoli



John Popoli was appointed the fourth president of Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in June 2001.


Under his leadership, growth of the School’s award-winning corporate learning solutions, commitment to new program development and delivery models, and the adoption of philanthropy as part of the School’s business model have been established as strategic initiatives to advance the School’s mission.


Mr. Popoli joined LFGSM as V.P. and Academic Dean in 1994 and in 1999 was named EVP & Dean, Degree Programs.  In these roles he developed the Leadership Learning value proposition and educational philosophy, directed the launch of the international and healthcare specializations, and enhanced faculty relationships and mentoring.  He initiated numerous academic quality improvements, notably curriculum benchmarking and mapping and the use of faculty curriculum councils.  He also expanded the School’s approach to new student enrollment through business-to-business recruiting strategies and full program delivery at customer sites.

Prior to joining the Graduate School, Mr. Popoli had 22 years of business experience with Moore Business Forms and Systems Division, holding a variety of key staff and line positions in sales and management. He provided sales/program marketing support for more than one hundred of the company’s major accounts; was responsible for identifying, developing and delivering performance-driven, competency-based, national education programs; and spearheaded the introduction of company-wide quality education programs and the implementation of best practices and customer-focused process improvement programs.


Mr. Popoli serves on the Boards of Trustees of Lake Forest College and Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart and serves on the Advisory Board of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science College of Pharmacy.  He is a member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities and the International Association of University Presidents.

Kathy Leck

Kathy Leck


Change Management

Ms. Leck has over 35 years in executive leadership, consulting and education. She has expertise in merger and acquisitions, change management, administration, and design and delivery of education solutions.


She is an accomplished team builder, author and public speaker. She and led Lake Forest Graduate School’s strategy for providing relevant business skills to functional experts, which has led to multiple national awards as well as spear heading their next generation of innovative programs. Ms Leck has led multiple organization-wide change initiatives through her leadership positions in Education and Healthcare and has consulted with a wide variety of industries.


At Lake Forest Graduate School Ms. Leck held several leadership positions including most recently Executive Vice President of Educational Programs and Solutions (interim) responsible for all degree programs both academically and operationally.


In April 2013 Ms. Leck was appointed Vice President of Corporate Learning Solutions, responsible for the strategic direction, sales and administration of the School’s educational offerings to corporations.


Prior to that for three years Ms. Leck was Vice President – R&D and Innovation, responsible for the strategic direction, ideation, market testing, and launch of the School’s new programs and services. In this position she led the development of the next generation MBA, the immersion MBA (iMBA), which opened up a new audience to the School. Prior roles at the Graduate School have included Executive Vice President of Corporate Education and Director of Human Resources and Corporate Development.