Alison P. Ranney
Managing Partner & Partner in Charge, Chicago
Alison Ranney specializes in leading CEO, President, Executive Director and other senior executive searches for mission-driven clients across the country and around the world. She leads the Chicago Office and serves on the firm-wide Executive Committee.
Alison partners with a broad range of clients including foundations, cultural institutions, membership organizations, other nonprofits, colleges, and universities. She has successfully led searches at the CEO, President, Executive Director, Dean, COO, CFO, and VP levels as well as Board members.
Alison’s work has been featured in numerous publications over the years. In a 2017 cover page article, Crain’s Chicago Business profiled Koya’s efforts to strengthen and diversify the senior-most leadership at mission-driven clients in the Chicago area and nationally, noting “Koya Leadership Partners’ Alison Ranney is remaking what leadership looks like across the country.”
Representative clients include the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Obama Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, the United Way and the American Red Cross. Alison also has deep expertise in Higher Education having led searches for the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.
Prior to joining Koya, Alison was with Russell Reynolds Associates, where she led the development of the Nonprofit practice in the Midwest and received the firm’s inaugural award for Excellence in Client Service.
Alison began her career at Skadden, Arps, where she was a corporate attorney with a focus on mergers and acquisitions. She also served as Vice President at the real estate development firm responsible for Prairie Crossing, the award-winning conservation community, and as an executive with AT&T Wireless where she specialized in joint ventures.
Early in her career, Alison lived in Guatemala, where she taught 250 schoolchildren, and Mexico City, where she worked in communications and public relations.
With a strong commitment to civic involvement, Alison has served on numerous boards nationally and locally. She chaired the Nominating & Governance Committee of Public Radio International (PRI) which recently affected a successful merger with PRX, another leader in the public media field. She has also served on the boards of the Goodman Theatre, World Business Chicago and Forefront. Alison served on the Board of Directors of WBEZ/Chicago Public Media for 12 years and chaired the CEO Search Committee for a highly successful CEO. Alison was on the Founding Board of City Year Chicago and the Board of Ryerson Woods Conservation Area.
Alison has served on the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School and the Alumni Council of Phillips Andover Academy, her alma maters.
Alison is also on the Board of Directors of the flagship bank of Wintrust Financial Corporation where she is active on the Compensation & Nominating, Audit, and Business Development Committees.
She is a member of the Commercial Club, the Economic Club and The Chicago Network. Earlier in her career, she was selected as an Emerging Leader by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Known for her candid, pragmatic style, Alison is a frequent speaker at conferences. She has been profiled as a case study of ‘real life stories of lawyers who have left the law’ in the book Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the JD You Have.
Alison received her B.A., magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, in Urban Studies from Brown University. She earned her M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.