• The National Human Services Assembly launched a multi-year initiative to disrupt and shift the public discourse on human needs, funded by the Kresge Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation. Ilsa was brought in to mobilize community and national leaders across the country to build capacity to change the conversation and, ultimately, build broader and deeper public support to for human services. We are using research-based communications from the FrameWorks Institute to understand which values and metaphors help the public and policy makers think more productively about systemic solutions to issues such as aging, homelessness, mental health and youth development. Ilsa leads dynamic, hands-on and, most importantly, fun workshops with sector leaders in places like Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago while developing customized plans for implementing the new frame at every level of society.  


  • Conducted a pilot project in Denver, Chicago, and Harrisburg PA to build financial capacity among low-wage employees in then nonprofit sector. The project goal was to create a foundation of financial stability through outreach, education and access to a range of financial products and services. Project outcomes, detailed in a final report, confirmed the value of intentional organizational efforts to work with low-wage employees to navigate this landscape and become aware of the resources that can increase their financial stability.

  • Partnered with MIT’s Office of Sustainability on next-generation sustainability planning. Part of a team that provided high-level strategizing on how to move from an operations-focused program to transformative problem solving and systems thinking in higher education sustainability practices.

not too long ago

  • Founded and launched two offices of sustainability at LaSalle Bank and the University of Chicago. Developed a data-driven strategic sustainability plan aligned with institution outcomes, including over 100 metrics to track and evaluate progress against goals. Over three years of data collection showed significant decrease in the waste of natural resources, increase in alternative transportation, and cost savings from program and building efficiencies.

  • Positioned the United Way system as an important voice on Capitol Hill. Led capacity building efforts for United Way of America’s 1300 state and local offices, providing customized workshops around the country. Aligned local United Ways behind national advocacy priorities. Public policy gains included: federal assignment of “211” to human services information and referral; a 30% increase in Emergency Food and Shelter appropriations; and enrollment of 500,000 in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a partnership with the Office of Senator Kennedy (D-MA).


  • Convened a broad coalition of national and grassroots partners for nationwide designation of the 3-digit telephone code, “211”, for human services information and referral (as a complement to “911”). Managed nationwide implementation of 211, including $500,000 in grants to support those efforts. Drafted legislation and secured bi-partisan support in Congress for $200 million in federal funding for building and sustaining a nationwide 211 system.