Our team features America's foremost strategy consultant, Ian Symmonds, several collaborating consultants and partners, and an industry best practices internal research team. Ian Symmonds & Associates is small by design, allowing us to deliver personal service tailored to the unique needs of our clients. The following is a list our team members, their bios, and a few little tidbits of interesting stuff to go along the way. Call our main office line anytime 503.843.8300 and ask for appropriate team member below.
Author. Speaker. Consultant. Ed-Activist. Strategist. Researcher. Tennis player. Reluctant lab owner. These are just a few of the roles that Ian Symmonds enjoys. Ian is the visionary president and founder of Ian Symmonds & Associates Inc. Over the past decade, Ian has served over 250 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 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 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 its impact on education. 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 Portland, Oregon with his wife Lisa, daughters Makayla and Jules, and Rajah, his loving and irreverent lab. In his spare time, he is an avid tournament tennis player and enjoys exploring the beauty of the Northwest.
Contacting Ian > Calendaring and speaking engagements for Ian can be handled by emailing his personal assistant Samantha Johnson.
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.
Gisele Lamarre is a 30 year veteran journalist. She brings to the ISA project team unparalleled experience in international and national network news coverage and commmerical production. She's covered major news stories from OJ Simpson to Presidential elections, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, the Malheur wildlife takeover, and other high profile trials for the likes of NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN. She's done it all.
Gisele conducts qualitative research in the form of interviews of key stakeholder groups for our independent school and higher education clients. Most of this research is used to expand our understanding of the client, school and college culture, and the context which the organization operates. Her qualitative research often brings into focus key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) for a school or college, serving as an important foundation in strategic planning. She brings an uncanny ability to connect and communicate thoughtfully with just about anybody, bringing that intangible asset to our interviews. She has seen it all at this point in her career and little - if anything - surprises her.
Gisele earned her BS in International Relations from the University of California at Davis and her MA in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York. Like several ISA team members, she resides in Portland, Oregon with her son and daughter and is a dedicated parent, an excellent skier, and avid tennis player.
Providing research support with independent school and college clients, Jack Symmonds develops and implements client survey instruments. Jack studied psychology at Knox College and brings a wealth of understanding of qualitative research. He also possesses extraordinary people skills and brings high attention to detail to our work, proofing our presentations and managing our end product.
Jack conducts survey research, including telephone surveys and the implementation of our web surveys. He handles several other research inputs, including competitor analysis and perceptual and opinion leader data. A 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.
Jack lives right in the middle of our clients in Central Illinois. 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.
Robert Rytter, president and creative director of Jensen Design Studio, has more than 30 years of experience developing and executing strategic marketing campaigns 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.
Jensen Design Studio is a national full-service communications design firm based in Baltimore. We provide creative solutions to the marketing challenges of schools, colleges and universities in the areas of branding, student recruitment and fund-raising. We are conceptual thinkers, writers, graphic designers, film-makers and multimedia designers comfortable working in all media. We are collaborative by nature, often working in tandem with the staff of our clients to build communications that are mission driven.
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.
A long-time strategic partner, Robert and his firm has collaborated with ISA on many projects, including Roanoke College, Hutchison School, Brookstone School, Westminster College, Columbia College, Altamont School, New College, Roland Hall, St. Martin's Episcopal School, and many more. Want to see the creative process? Here is a portfolio of our work.
Phil Higginson leads the development and advancement function of our practice for our independent schools and college clients. He is the Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement at Ravenscroft School, NC, where he has led multi-million dollar capital and endowment campaigns. He previously headed development programs at Norwood School, MD, and St. Albans, DC. Since 1987 he has worked as an independent school advancement officer, coach and administrator.
His expertise includes extensive knowledge of endowment and planned giving as a way to increase donors’ capacity to give at leadership levels. He has taught workshops related to alignment of advancement objectives, institutional strategic planning, management of capital campaigns and major gifts programs, roles and responsibilities of the Development/Advancement Committee, and effective use of advancement data.
Phil has presented at more than 30 local and national conferences for CASE, NAIS, NCAIS, AISGW, and NCPG. He served as Chair of the 38th annual CASE-NAIS national conference, and has served on two planning committees for this event. He is currently a member of the CASE District III Board.
Phil graduated from Groton School, MA, and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Richmond, VA. He lives with his family in Raleigh, North Carolina.