Ian started ISA with a notebook computer, cell phone, and a dream of using his skills to transform the education landscape.

Ian Symmonds

ISA Founder, Chief Strategist

After serving a decade and a half at the cabinet level for several private schools, colleges, and universities, turning around enrollment and strategy in the process, Ian launched Ian Symmonds & Associates Inc. in 2003. 20 years, 1300 clients, and four million air miles traveled later, Ian has seen more schools, colleges, universities and non-profits than any other consultant in America.

Ian is an author, speaker, ed-activist, and strategist. His global professional practice as a senior officer, executive director, and dean spanned Pacific University, Culver-Stockton College, Saint Mary’s Hall, and Trinity University. He is a global citizen and has traveled the world for boarding schools and colleges and engineered dramatic turnarounds for multiple private institutions during his career. He has lived in several major American cultural centers, including Boston, San Antonio, Portland, Chicago and San Diego, as well as traveled extensively for schools, colleges, and clients to England, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Dubai, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Netherlands, France, Italy, and Greece.

Occasionally dubbed an “ed-activist”, Ian holds a high opinion of the role of education in building communities and solving social issues. He launched the #JustCause campaign in 2011 to strategically connect ISA with organizations that are addressing structural poverty through education. He speaks and writes on the issue and devotes a portion of time consulting with organizations through the Just Cause campaign.

Very early in his consulting career, Ian earned the role of one of America’s best thought leaders in educational circles, defined by a culturally relevant approach and progressive thinking. He is inspired by the role of nonprofits and educational organizations as they shape our world. Not prone to educational fads, clients consistently remark that Ian’s counsel is both durable and innovative, a balance that reflects timeless experience and cultural relevance.

Ian has published in numerous professional journals and has presented at just about every national and regional educational conference. He is in high demand as a conference speaker at regional, national and global venues. Ian holds a BS and MS degree from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.

Ian loves the journey. In his spare time, you will find him on a tennis court (he was a former competitive tennis professional), hiking, or on his motorcycle, navigating the less-explored highways of the desert. He is fascinated by culture, seeking to unplug and connect with new environments. Ian lives and offices in Southern California with his wife and lifelong partner, Lisa. He has two daughters, each graduating from Loyola Marymount, working in the creative industry: Makayla, who lives in Nashville and Julianna, who lives in the Bay area and serves with ISA.

Follow Ian's travels on Instagram.

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