Ilsa Flanagan has spent her career seeking to help create the conditions for a more compassionate and just world, advancing the vital systems and policies we all need to thrive. She works with nonprofit and private sector leaders to apply research-based communications and forward thinking advocacy to help create wide scale change for the public good.
Recently Ilsa designed and directed a multi-year initiative to disrupt and shift the public discourse on human needs. She was brought in to mobilize community and national leaders across the country to change the conversation and, ultimately, build broader and deeper public support to for human services. She leads dynamic, hands-on workshops, training nearly 4000 sector leaders in dozens of communities.
Ilsa has long been captivated by the power of language to persuade and influence and activate. As the founding director of social and environmental change initiatives at national and global institutions she grounded her work in understanding institutional lexicon, values, and culture. Ilsa launched the University of Chicago’s Office of Sustainability and started the Sustainable Development department at LaSalle Bank/ABN AMRO, a global financial institution and an early corporate leader in embodying the triple bottom line.
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.