Ilsa Flanagan has nearly 20 years of experience designing and leading social and environmental change initiatives across sectors. She works with leaders to create and reinvigorate high performing, purpose-driven organizations and programs that build thriving communities, create environmental sustainability, and generate social innovation. Ilsa is a start-up specialist, guiding viable concepts from the pilot phase to fully funded and operational. Within the context of an institution’s culture and ethos, she faciltates a robust strategic planning process and makes connections among people and systems to successfully build and implement strong programs with meaningful results.
Most recently Ilsa was the University of Chicago’s founding executive director for its Office of Sustainability. She developed and executed a multi-layered, integrated sustainability plan connected to broader University outcomes, aligned with its culture and values, and tracked by a rigorous outcome measurement plan. Within three years Ilsa grew the Office to a team of five, raised over $250,000, and established action research projects with faculty and students. Before joining the University, Ilsa was the founding director and senior vice president of Sustainable Development at LaSalle Bank/ABN AMRO. She led the company’s efforts to develop a North American Sustainable Development initiative aligned with its global program, which included assessing investments for social and environmental risk, developing green business products and services and building the capacity of community programs with targeted grantmaking.
An attorney by training, Ilsa also spent over a decade in Washington, DC and was head of public policy for the United Way of America. There she directed public policy and government relations activities for the nation’s largest non-governmental funder of human services. She developed UWA’s first public policy agenda, conducted trainings to increase capacity of 1300 local United Ways to engage in advocacy, and successfully positioned the United Way system as an important voice on Capitol Hill. She cultivated relationships with The White House, Congress, federal agencies and national coalitions to advance United Ways' priorities.