Alison P. Ranney

Managing Director

Russell Reynolds Associates


Executive Recruitment/Transition

Member since:


Membership Type:


Alison Ranney specializes in leading CEO, President, Executive Director, Board 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’s leadership in her field has been featured in publications, including a 2017 article in Crain’s that noted “Koya Leadership Partners’ Alison Ranney is remaking what leadership looks like across the country.”

She has expertise working with foundations, educational and cultural institutions, human and social service organizations, professional organizations and other mission-driven clients, as well as colleges and universities.

Representative clients in the Chicago region 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, Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford 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 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.

For her alma maters, Alison has served on the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School and the Alumni Council of Phillips Academy.

Alison is a Director of Wintrust Bank where she is active on the Audit and Compensation & Nominating 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.


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