Anthony Knerr
Managing Director

Dr. Anthony Knerr has over thirty years of strategic consulting experience assisting a wide variety of leading universities and colleges, arts and cultural organizations, and nonprofit institutions in the U.S. and around the world.

He was previously Executive Vice President for Finance and Treasurer of Columbia University and Vice Chancellor for Budget and Planning of the City University of New York. Earlier he was Special Assistant for Budget and Planning to the Acting President of Yale University; an associate with the consulting firm of Booz Allen & Hamilton; and a program officer with the International Exchange Program.

He has taught at Columbia University, Indiana University, The New School, and Yale University.  He has written and published widely on strategy, nonprofit organizations, public policy, higher education, and literature.

Dr. Knerr is a board member of Academic Assembly and an honorary board member of the Keats-Shelley Association. In addition, he is President Emeritus of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, President Emeritus of United Neighborhood Houses of New York City, and an Emeritus board member of Words Without Borders. He earlier served as Coordinating Director of the Delaware Group of Mutual Funds and has previously served on numerous other nonprofit and corporate boards. He is a member of the Foreign Policy Association, New York Economic Club, and Phi Beta Kappa.

He received his B.A. magna cum laude in mathematics and philosophy and M.A. cum laude in English literature from Yale University and his Ph.D. in English literature from New York University.

 

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John Braunstein
Director

John M. Braunstein has extensive experience in higher education strategy, organization, management, enrollment, and planning.  He has provided consulting assistance to numerous AKA clients, including: Baruch College (CUNY), Case Western Reserve University, Drexel University College of Engineering, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Fordham University, Hudson River Park Friends, Hunter College (CUNY), Long Island University, Pace University, and The State University of New York (SUNY).

Mr. Braunstein was earlier a senior associate in the higher education consulting Group of Coopers & Lybrand, a senior consultant in higher education at KPMG Peat Marwick and a principal in the higher education practice of The Stillwater Group. His clients in these positions included Brooklyn College, Columbia University, Educational Testing Service, the University of Maryland system, University of Missouri, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), New York University Stern School of Business, University of Chicago Law School, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

Mr. Braunstein has also served as Associate Provost for Enrollment and Planning at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion; Interim Associate Provost for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions at Franklin and Marshall College; Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Iona College; Associate Director of Admissions at Oberlin College; and Assistant Director of Admissions at Brown University.

He received his B.A. in semiotics from Brown University and his M.B.A. in management of organizations and marketing from Columbia University. He also participated in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program.

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Jeffrey Peck
Director/Europe

Jeffrey Peck is based in Berlin, Germany. He was previously Dean of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and Vice Provost for Global Strategies at Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY).

Earlier Dr. Peck held the DAAD Chair in German Jewish History and Culture and was Director of the Leo Baeck Summer University in Jewish Studies at Humboldt University Berlin. He has also taught at the Free University Berlin. He was Professor of German at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Visiting Professor of German at the University of Toronto, and Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington. He was also Senior Fellow in Residence at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies in Washington, D.C. and Director of the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University, Toronto, and the Universitè de Montrèal.

Dr. Peck has spoken and published widely on German Jewish studies and global education, including in the IIE Networker, a publication of the Institute of International Education. He wrote the first comprehensive global strategic plan at a CUNY campus while he was Vice Provost at Baruch and represented CUNY in the World Class Cities, World Class Universities (WC2) global network.

He serves on the boards of the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Center for Research and Innovation in New York, and the Berlin School of Economics and Law. He was also a senior fellow of the Mercator Foundation.

Dr. Peck received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley, his M.A. in comparative literature from the University of Chicago, and his B.A. in German from Michigan State University, where he became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and the SUNY Summer Program in Higher Education Administration.

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Jonathan Fanton
Senior Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Fanton was most recently President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He earlier served as President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, President of the New School for Social Research, Vice President for Planning at the University of Chicago, and Chief of Staff to the President of Yale University. 

Dr. Fanton has taught at Yale University and is the author of Foundations and Civil Society, Volumes I and II and The University and Civil Society.

Dr. Fanton currently serves on the Boards of Asian Cultural Council, Benjamin Franklin House, and Scholars at Risk, and chairs the Advisory Board of Newman’s Own Foundation. He earlier was Board Chair of Human Rights Watch, Security Council Report, and the New York State Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, among other organizations.

Dr. Fanton received his B.A., M.A., and his Ph.D. in history from Yale University.

Viktor Böhm
Senior Consultant

Viktor Böhm is a strategy advisor to leading nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs in the UK, Europe, and the U.S. He has played major roles in capacity building, leadership enhancement, and strategic positioning for a number of leading institutions and NGOs, including the Acquincum Institute of Technology, the Beyond Rubik’s Cube exhibition, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and the Judit Polgar Chess Foundation, among others. He has also advised select commercial enterprises, including the Quarto Publishing Group.

Dr. Böhm previously held executive positions at Central European University (CEU), where he was Vice President for Strategy and Development and Deputy Chief Operating Officer. He has also served on the Boards of Dimenzio Mutual Insurance Company and Stratis Management Consulting.

He is currently Executive Vice President of Rubik’s Brand Ltd (UK) and Chair of the Maestro Iván Fischer Foundation.

Dr. Böhm received his M.A. in social psychology from Eötvös Loránd University and his Ph.D. in political science from Central European University. He was a resident research fellow in moral and political philosophy at New College, Oxford University.

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Margaret Downs
Senior Consultant

Margaret Downs is active at the intersection of business strategy and organization, helping clients define and achieve strategic goals, manage organizational transitions, and improve organizational and leadership effectiveness. She has worked in a wide variety of business sectors, including nonprofit, professional services, media and information, healthcare, and financial services.

Ms. Downs has extensive experience in organizational assessment, planning, and change management. In addition, her background in strategic planning helps insure that organizational planning efforts are fully synchronized with strategic objectives. She has helped numerous organizations undertaking transformative change to redefine their organization structure and processes, recast leadership roles and responsibilities, and realign their supporting workforce. She has also played an active role in supporting the roll-out of major change initiatives.

Ms. Downs earlier managed APM’s strategic consulting group before its acquisition and rebranding as CSC, a leading U.S. consulting firm serving academic medical centers and other nonprofit hospitals and healthcare delivery systems. She was previously Executive Vice President at Bain Capital LLC, with responsibilities for business development and marketing, and managed engagements in business strategy and operations at Bain & Company.

She was also a project director for the Northeast-Midwest Institute and served as a legislative director and education policy aide in the U.S. Congress. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Ms. Downs received her B.S. magna cum laude in history from Harvard College and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

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Mathias Falkenstein
Senior Consultant

Mathias Falkenstein is CEO of the Higher Education Management Group in Berlin, where he is based. His special focus is assisting global universities and business schools in designing and implementing institutional change, with particular attention to issues of sustainability and responsibility; international accreditation and internationalization; and defining new roles for institutions of higher education in Europe and the United States.

Dr. Falkenstein earlier served as Director of Business School Services at the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) in Brussels, Director of International Relations at IÉSEG School of Management in Paris and Lille, and Director of the International Summer University at the Free University in Berlin. He previously was Program Officer at the North American headquarters of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in New York.

Dr. Falkenstein has longstanding affiliations with a variety of business school networks, including the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Central and East European Management Development Association (CEEMAN), Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), and the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI).

He is the immediate past chair of the Expert Community for Business Education of the European Association for International Education (EAIE) as well as a member of the EAIE General Council, its highest governing body. He is currently chair of various international advisory boards, including the business school of LUISS University in Rome, Amsterdam International Business School in the Netherlands, and Jyväskylä University of Applied Science School of Business in Finland. Dr. Falkenstein was a long-standing board member of European Quality Link, a European think tank and policy development organization focused on international business and management education, training, research, and development.

He is a research fellow and post-doctoral graduate at the International Centre for Higher Education Management (ICHEM) at the School of Management, University of Bath, UK.

Dr. Falkenstein earned his B.A and M.S in business communications from the University of Applied Engineering and Economics (HTW) in Berlin and his Ph.D. in higher education management with honors at the University of Bath, UK.

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Shirley Jenks
Senior Consultant

Shirley Ferguson Jenks has extensive experience in providing strategic and development counsel to nonprofit organizations in the fields of culture, education, health, and social services.

As President of the Jenks Group, LLC, Ms. Jenks works independently and with other experts to design and implement strategic planning projects; mount annual capital campaigns; and conduct executive searches for development professionals. With more than 30 years of experience as a consultant and nonprofit development executive, she began her career in New York as the first Director of Development for the Landmarks Conservancy. Subsequent staff positions included Director of Development for the Cultural Council Foundation, Manager of the Annual Fund of the American Craft Museum, and Vice President for Development of the American Academy in Rome during a centennial capital campaign. She has been a consultant to nonprofit organizations for over 20 years.

Ms. Jenks currently serves on the boards of the American Foundation for the Courtauld Institute of Art, the New York Preservation Archive Project, and Women in Development New York.

Ms. Jenks was founder of the Development Professionals Roundtable and was its president for ten years.

She received her M.A. in medieval architecture from the Courtauld Institute in London and her B.A. with honors in political science from Manhattanville College.

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Nicola Blake
Consultant

Dr. Nicola Blake is an Associate Professor of English at Guttman Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where she has also served as Faculty Advisor to the Provost and Liberal Arts and Sciences Coordinator. Previously, she taught for more than ten years at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and the City College of New York, where she also served as Director of the Samuel Rudin Resource Center and led numerous presidential initiatives on student success.

For the 2016-2017 year, Dr. Blake was awarded the prestigious American Council on Education (ACE) Fellowship, a highly competitive national award granted to individuals who show great leadership promise and the capacity to advance to a senior college or university leadership role. As an ACE Fellow, she served as a senior administrator at Westchester Community College (WCC) of the State University of New York, focusing on student success initiatives, strategic planning and messaging, and community partnerships. Dr. Blake also co-chaired the WCC’s inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Forum and its Student Success and Academic Excellence Summit. She currently serves as a U.S. Fulbright Specialist (2015-2020), with internationally recognized expertise in curriculum and program development, assessment, and strategic planning. She is a New York State Board of Regents Accreditation Reviewer (NYSED) and she has served on the CUNY Chancellor’s Strategic Planning Committee, as well as, other CUNY-wide committees.

Dr. Blake has received numerous awards and grants for her service and scholarship, including the Community Service Learning award from the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies (CCNY) and several national and local grants focused on high-impact practices to improve writing at the post-secondary level. Her disciplinary research examines the role of narrators and narrative structure in medieval and modern literature, and her teaching and learning scholarship focuses on collaborative teaching practices and pedagogies of engagement.

Dr. Blake received her B.A. with honors in English and psychology from the City University of New York and her M.A. in English and Ph.D. in medieval literature from Rutgers University.

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Susanne Kastler
Consultant

Susanne Kastler previously served as Director of Program Development at the French American Foundation in New York City, where she planned and administered educational and social programs. Her program areas included youth violence prevention, civic education, and early education. She was responsible for developing program budgets, proposals, and agendas and coordinating candidate selection. Ms. Kastler also oversaw the publication of major reports on the French universal pre-school system, organized press conferences, and consulted with American organizations interested in French early education policies.

Prior to coming to the United States, Ms. Kastler held several positions at INSEAD, an international business school in France. In her last post there, she was responsible for formulating a new reciprocation policy for INSEAD’s FF 700M global capital campaign.

Ms. Kastler received her M.A. in American studies from Columbia University; B.A. magna cum laude in American studies from Mount Holyoke College; and language degree in English, French and Spanish from Nürnberger Fremdsprachenschule (Germany). She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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Shari Prussin
Consultant

Shari Prussin has over 30 years experience as a consultant and high level executive in multiple higher education institutions. As a consultant, she has advised and assisted a wide range of colleges and universities on issues of management and operations, strategic planning, policy development, compliance, technology, organization design, business improvement processes, and project management. 

She most recently was Vice Provost for Planning and Administration at The New School and Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness at FIT (SUNY).

Ms. Prussin earlier was Deputy to the President at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Hunter College, and Queens College, among other institutions, responsible for  managing strategic and cultural change, coordinating policy development and compliance, and project management.

Ms. Prussin received her B.S. in Education from the City College of New York and her MBA from Baruch College.  

Cynthia Lawson
Advisory Consultant

Cynthia Lawson is a Brooklyn-based Colombian digital artist, technologist, and educator. She is Associate Professor of Integrated Design at Parsons School of Design. An internationally exhibited artist, her current research centers on the DEED Research Lab, which she co-founded in 2007 and currently directs. DEED Lab is focused on the future of indigenous artisans and their children. Through fieldwork programs, strategic partnerships, and academic research, DEED Lab promotes models that equally support poverty alleviation, artisan empowerment, and cultural preservation.

Ms. Lawson has held a variety of leadership roles at The New School, including, most recently, Interim Vice President and Associate Provost for Open Campus (2016-17). She has lectured internationally on design, education, technology, and social practice. Before joining academia full-time, she worked as an educational technologist in Bogotá and at Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. As a consultant, she has worked with international organizations such as CARE and the World Bank.

She received her B.S. in electrical engineering from Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia) and a Master’s in interactive telecommunications from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

Belinda S.Y. Li
Advisory Consultant

Belinda S.Y. Li is Founder and Chief Consultant at CiTTA Partnership. She has over 20 years of experience leading strategic planning, action planning, growth strategy, and business modeling projects for a wide range of mission-driven organizations in the nonprofit, public, private, academic, and social enterprise sectors.

Before founding CiTTA, Dr. Li was a Senior Associate at McKinsey & Company, where her clients included United Way, the Field Museum, and numerous Fortune 100 companies. She brings particular expertise to the health, education, and environmental fields, with a background as program manager of the Chicago Climate Action Plan and an R&D business manager at General Electric Healthcare following a role as senior scientist at GE Healthcare’s Applied Science Laboratory. She has also held several academic research positions, including post-doctoral associate at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, research associate at the University of Pennsylvania, and research assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine.

In her roles at GE Healthcare, Dr. Li worked directly with academic research institutions to develop the next generations of medical diagnostic products. These institutions included the Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the University of Illinois Medical Center. Her experience in both the academic and commercial fields has provided her with an opportunity to work with researchers, engineers, leading radiologists, and business development professionals. She has authored or co-authored 13 peer-reviewed papers, numerous conference abstracts, and has presented at international conferences.

Dr. Li currently serves as Treasurer of the Board for both the Social Enterprise Alliance Chicago Chapter and the Illinois Environmental Council. She is also an advisory committee member of Accelerate 77, a project to accelerate grassroots sustainability initiatives throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. In addition, Dr. Li is a founding member and active participant in the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network and an active member of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits. She also serves as a mentor to teams participating in the Clean Energy Challenge. She is fluent in written and spoken Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) and English.

Dr.Li received her Ph.D. in medical physics from the University of London, M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and B.A. in physics (first-class honours) from the University of Oxford.

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Jocelyn Hernandez
Executive Assistant/Marketing Coordinator

Ms. Hernandez leads the marketing strategy for the firm and lends her support in administrative duties. She is fluent in Spanish.

 

Ms. Hernandez received her B.A. in English and communications from Fordham University.

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