Key Leadership, Collaborating partners, and trusted tools

Our core leadership team features America's foremost strategy consultant, Ian Symmonds, Sam Foley (Project Manager), and Kelly Laboe (Senior Consulting Associate). We also enjoy several collaborating consultants and partners on our research and media team, including Robert Rytter/Jensen Design Studio (Creative Partner), Makayla Symmonds/MAK Multimedia (Web and Digital Media Design), Jack Symmonds (Collaborating Research Associate), and Jules Symmonds (Resident Intern). The following is a list our key leadership and collaborating partners, along with their roles with ISA. Call our main office line anytime 503.843.8300 and ask for appropriate team member below.  


President | Chief Strategist

Author. Speaker. Ed-Activist. Strategist. Ian is the visionary president and founder of Ian Symmonds & Associates Inc.  You won’t find a consultant that has seen more schools and colleges than Ian. Over the past 15 years, Ian has served well over 400 independent schools, colleges, universities, and non-profit organizations through enrollment, marketing, positioning, visioning, branding, and strategy counsel. 

Long before a consultant, however, Ian was a practitioner.  His professional practice as a senior officer, executive director, and dean spans 25 years including Pacific University, Culver-Stockton College, Saint Mary's Hall, and Trinity University.  He has led independent schools, traditional undergraduate colleges, graduate schools, and adult learning programs.  He also engineered dramatic enrollment turnarounds for three different private institutions during this career. 

Occasionally dubbed an "ed-activist", Ian holds a high opinion of the role of education in building communities, transforming people and solving social issues.  He launched the #JustCause campaign with Ian Symmonds & Associates in 2011 to raise public awareness and strategically connect ISA with organizations that are addressing structural poverty through education. He actively speaks and writes on the issue and devotes a large portion of time to consulting with organizations through the Just Cause campaign. Recent organizations served under the Just Cause campaign include Portland Tennis & Education (OR), Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (TN), Mississippi Children's Museum (MS), Village of Promise (AL), KUZA (OR and Uganda), and Children's Relief Nursery (OR).

Industry experts often refer to Ian as one of America's brightest thought leaders in education.  He is fascinated by culture and the future role of nonprofits and educational organizations as they attempt to shape our world for the common good. He has published in numerous professional journals, such as the Journal of College Admission (NACAC) and On Target (College Board), and has presented at just about every national and regional educational conference.  He holds a BS and MS degree from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.  Ian's formal area of study is organizational and small group leadership, focusing his graduate program on the essential ingredients of leading individuals and organizations.  He is in high demand as a conference speaker at regional and national venues.  

Ian consults on several projects each quarter, speaks, and writes frequently on behalf of ISA. He lives in Southern California with his wife Lisa. Ian’s daughters include Makayla, working in digital media in Nashville, and Julianna, attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Ian still competes at the tournament level in tennis, enjoys hiking, and exploring the beauty of the outdoors.

Calendaring and speaking engagements for Ian can be handled by emailing ISA’s project manager Samantha.  

Press and conference organizers may download photos for speaking events and promotions here.

Follow Ian’s travels and observations on culture on Twitter.

Samantha Foley

Project Manager

As ISA's Project Manager, Sam serves as the first point of contact for prospective client inquiries, and provides continuous support for the duration of your project. She will be your primary point of contact for portal setup, information gathering, and administrative needs. Sam also manages ISA's invoicing system and coordinates Ian's calendar.

Sam attended Baker University and the University of Evansville, earning an undergraduate degree in legal studies before completing her law degree at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law. Her professional background spans journalism, law, event planning, real estate, and tech. She shares the ISA team's belief that education can change the world.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, Pat, and their two dogs, Brooklyn and Gryff. They enjoy superhero movies, fostering rescue dogs, and ordering pizza more often than is probably reasonable.

Sam can be reached via email here


Senior Consulting Associate | Enrollment Management and Research

Kelly brings to the ISA team tremendous energy, high-level professional capability, and a contagious "can-do" attitude. She joined Ian Symmonds & Associates in 2005 as Ian's first team member and has performed multiple roles for ISA over the years. 

Kelly plays the lead strategy role for our strategic enrollment management practice.  She forges deep partnerships with our clients as she works with them to develop a strategic enrollment management system, assessing functions such as recruitment, retention, admissions, marketing communications, financial aid and net tuition revenue, information management, and other areas.  She has served large and small independent schools, colleges, and universities. 

Kelly also leads our executive search services.  Her uncanny knack for reading the culture of an organization and then finding right fit people for their needs has served many independent schools in the past.  She develops national and international recruitment campaigns to identify the right personnel match for our clients. 

In a word, Kelly is the consumate ISA "sleuth", always picking up on the nuances of people, place, and culture as we move through our projects.  In addition to lending her extraordinary enrollment management expertise to our clients, she conducts national executive search projects, facilitates focus group and listening sessions, and executes research projects.  She is also often the first ISA team member on the client scene, conducting exploratory campus visits for our strategic marketing and strategic planning projects.   

Finally, Kelly is no stranger to working with Ian.  She served as an associate director of admission at Pacific University in Oregon on Ian's enrollment management team.  She managed the recruitment, financial assistance, and orientation of transfer students throughout the Northwest and the nation.  She understands the unique challenges of tuition driven schools and applies sophisticated solutions of strategic enrollment management.  

Kelly holds a BA degree from The University of Connecticut in Political Theory. Kelly and her husband Edward live in Portland, Oregon. In her "spare time", Kelly is an active community volunteer, a die hard Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns fan, and is always on the go with her two lovely girls Emma and Madeline.

Jensen Design Studio

Robert Rytter, Creative Partner

Robert Rytter has more than 30 years of experience developing and executing strategic marketingcampaigns for colleges and universities. An advocate of integrated one-to-one marketing, Robert promotes targeted marketing efforts in all mediums: collateral materials, website and interactive design, public relations and advertising. Robert graduated from MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) with a degree in painting; he has served on the faculty there as an instructor of advanced graphic design.

Robert also attended the MLA program at the Johns Hopkins University and the business program at Loyola College. He has been a guest lecturer for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the University of Maryland. His work has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, CASE, Communication Arts, the New York Art Directors Club, the Type Directors Club of New York, the University & College Designers Association, the Washington Art Directors Club, Graphis and Print, among others.


Makayla Symmonds, Web and Digital Media Design

Makayla Symmonds is a Nashville-based photographer who specializes in multimedia and performance photography. She works for Piedmonte & Company, a managing partner of Capitol Record artists, traveling extensively with leading musicians and performance artists.

What some often consider a unique perspective; Makayla finds collaboration to be the cornerstone of her work. When asked why she chooses to shoot other artists she replies; "I like to believe that what the artist chooses to do on the stage at a specific moment, alongside the lighting designers cue and the musicians position, and my choosing to release the shutter in that second is what creates such a beautiful image". 

Makayla performs contract media and design work for Ian Symmonds & Associates, including the redesign of websites, photography, and digital media production for ISA clients.

Jack Symmonds

Collaborating Research Associate

Jack Symmonds provides research and analysis support for ISA.  He brings a wealth of understanding of qualitative research with over a decade of experience on our team.  He possesses extraordinary people skills and brings high attention to detail to our work. Jack is also master of the effective use of consulting technology, Jack also manages the extensive use of our client collaboration web portals, including creating pages, teams, and issuing authorizations for our clients.  

He enjoys tennis, excellent coffee, caring for his family, and long and romantic walks with his dog, Ruby.  Jack and his wife Nancy have become strong supporters for adopting rescued pets and a strong advocates for pet adoption. 

Jules Symmonds

Resident Intern

Jules Symmonds is our trusted, resident intern. She collaborates on research projects, performing synthesis, analysis, and project management duties. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is a currently a junior at Loyola Marymount University studying communication. She has a special affinity for animals, with a particular affection for just about any dog she meets.

Our Trusted media Tools

We use only best in class, powerful digital tools to partner in our work.  Ian Symmonds & Associates counts on the following trusted business partners to serve our clients seamlessly, secure our data confidentially, and power our firm efficiently.