Epilepsy Foundation Selects ISA

The Epilepsy Foundation has selected Ian Symmonds & Associates as a partner to develop the next strategic plan. Our work will commence with a national meeting in Scottsdale this month with leaders across the nation. We will continue to work with the Foundation and partners through the fall, winter, and spring. We are excited to welcome the Epilepsy Foundation to our client community.


The Epilepsy Foundation is the only national organization dedicated to helping people pursue seizure freedom.

“The Mission Of The Epilepsy Foundation Is To Lead The Fight To Overcome The Challenges Of Living With Epilepsy And To Accelerate Therapies To Stop Seizures, Find Cures, And Save Lives.”

The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with over 50 local organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. They work to prevent, control, and cure epilepsy through community services, public education, federal and local advocacy, and supporting research into new treatments and therapies. They work to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential.

Shout Out to Kent Bicknell and Recent Book "Stepping Stones"

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If you are looking for a relaxing and thoughtful read to finish your summer, check out "Stepping Stones", available on Amazon here.  Good friend and colleague Kent Bicknell has just released a book that outlines the history of Sant Bani School in. central New Hampshire.  We got to know both Kent and the school very well several years ago as we completed a comprehensive strategic plan for Sant Bani School.  Kent served as the founding head, long-time leader, and resident historian.  

According to Amazon, "Stepping Stones narrates the fascinating history of Sant Bani School and its rapid growth into a dynamic educational day program in central New Hampshire. With a focus on the early years (1973-1978) founding head Dr. Kent Bicknell offers an in-depth account of the spiritual and educational roots of the school as it developed a curriculum based on the understanding that all life is connected. Along with a description of the relation of the school to two spiritual teachers from India, Dr. Bicknell provides a link to the educational theories of the 19th century Transcendentalists, Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Alcotts. Contemporary newspaper articles and photographs from the initial years help bring the story to life. Be prepared to wonder, to laugh, to learn – and to be drawn to visit the school's vibrant campus today (www.santbani.org)."

If you are a school historian and enjoy the challenges, chronicles, and journey of founding a new school and building an educational philosophy, check out "Stepping Stones".  It is thoughtful and in-depth account of a vital school in the central New Hampshire region.

Revisiting Education, Children, and Poverty in Mississippi

The Mississippi Children’s Museum (MCM) was born in 1994 from the urgent need to improve the health, literacy and well-being of Mississippi’s children. Recognizing a vital need for innovative, creative and engaging educational resources for Mississippi children and their families, and inspired by the success of children’s museums across the country, a visionary group of community volunteers began the extensive process that led to MCM.


Six years ago, ISA completed the first ever strategic plan for the Mississippi Children's Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.  This initiative was an early effort of our #JustCause campaign. We are excited to announce that we will be building upon the heritage and success of the museum by joining with them to build a new strategic plan for the future. 

We believe education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world and solve extreme poverty.  ISA launched the #JustCause campaign in 2011 to raise public awareness and empower organizations using education to solve systemic poverty.  #JustCause has three focus points:  

  1. We promote education throughout our industry as the gold standard strategy for overpowering poverty;
  2. We consult with select organizations on a pro bono basis which use education as their primary strategy to overpower poverty;
  3. We invest financially in organizations that empower promising young people toward higher education attainment.

We are truly excited to be headed back to Jackson this year to partner with this extraordinary organization.  We will be working alongside their board and administrative leaders to build a plan that will empower the next generation of children in the state.  

What if We Created Plans and Didn't Share Them?

Education is a pretty predictable industry.  It tends to follow similar calendars, cycles, processes, and systems.  Sometimes that is a very reassuring attribute.  And, sometimes it can lead us away from thinking differently about our circumstances.


Most schools and colleges spend an average of 9 months to create a strategic plan.  They gather lots of data and input, engage their stakeholders, and then create a set of priorities that were formed from the feedback.  At the end of the process, they build a communication program and launch the new strategic plan to great fanfare.  Hopefully, they follow the plan and implement as intended, communicating with their people all the way.  Five years later, they will probably do it again.  Pretty predictable cycle, right? 

What if we created strategic plans and then didn't share them?  No kidding.  Not with anyone. Instead, we just decided to DO them.  Like major companies do.  Think about Google for a moment.  They don't need a keynote presentation to share their new software.  They quietly engage us for our advice and then, one day, a new product designed just for us emerges.  Some of the new products delight us and others dismay us and they fail.  But, regardless, they are dedicated to the act of DOING, not SAYING, what they are going to do.

Actually, I am not advocating that we stop communicating about our strategic plans.  Good communication plays an important role in closing the feedback loop with our tribe of support, creates a foundation for a campaign, and builds trust in the community.  But, I have noticed that schools and colleges love to tell the world where they are going yet tend to be very slow and inflexible in living out their plans.  Wouldn't it be an interesting exercise to finish a strategic plan and not communicate it with anyone?  And, then, after a couple of years of implementation, go back and ask stakeholders what they think the school or college priorities are at the moment.  That would give us a good sense of whether our actions were speaking for us.

Let's focus more on DOING than SAYING.  We all know that action speak louder than words.  Excellent communication is an important goal in itself.  But, let's not confuse activity with meaning.  People care about what we do, not what we say.