Executive Transition Consultant

Consultant Details:

Contact: Michelle Bonoan, Managing Director – West Coast
Name of Firm: Koya Leadership Partners / part of Diversified Search Group
Language Spoken: English, Spanish
Website/LinkedIn URL: https://diversifiedsearchgroup.com/koya-partners/

Consultant Expertise

Organizational assessments, Recruitment, DEI

Program Areas

Agriculture, Fishing & Forestry, Arts and Culture, Community and Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, Human Rights, Human Services, Information and Communications, International Relationship, Philanthropy, Public Affairs, Public Safety, Religion, Science, Social Sciences, Sports and Recreation

Legal Structure of Organization:

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Year Practice Founded:

Koya was founded in 2004

Number of Individuals in Firm:

approx. 80 staff

Firm or Consultant Address:

Headquarters: 29 Green Street Newburyport, MA 01950 LA Office: 177 E Colorado Boulevard, 2nd Floor

RFQ Contact Name:

Michelle Bonoan, Managing Director – West Coast

RFQ Contact Phone:


Geographic area currently served by firm (select all that apply):

Los Angeles, California, USA, International

How would you describe the range of diversity reflected in your firm’s consultants and leadership (or self, if sole practitioner)?

Internally, Koya’s national staff is approximately 33% people of color. We are deeply committed to increasing these numbers to more accurately reflect national demographics and the communities that we serve.

Please describe your mission, values, and approach:

Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is the nation’s premier search firm dedicated to mission driven leadership. Since its founding in 2004, Koya has had an exclusive focus on mission-driven clients and was founded on the belief that the right leader can transform an organization and have a deep and measurable impact on our world. Koya works with nonprofits & NGOs, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world. We believe that talent is a key lever for achieving social change. We are passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are proud to have assumed a leadership role nationally with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion and by placing candidates from a broad array of backgrounds.

What expertise or perspective do you bring to organizations looking to ground their collaboration practices in values of diversity, equity, and inclusion?

A founding hallmark of our firm has been the focus and intentionality of creating an environment of inclusion, not only through the search process, but throughout our entire organization. We embrace the fundamental notion that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) enhance the abilities of institutions to achieve their missions and have a profound impact in their communities. We are proud of our distinctive history as a woman-owned and woman-led firm. We are leaders in the national discussion about increasing DEI in positions of leadership. Our staff regularly contributes to trainings, speaking engagements, and interviews related to this topic, maintaining an active voice about the powerful leadership role that search firms can play in DEI. As part of our commitment, we also provide pro bono training and coaching to select groups and underrepresented communities. In our searches, we see our role as setting the procedures and tone for a fair, rigorous, and inclusive process. We actively anticipate, identify, and proactively address issues related to bias and inclusiveness in the search process. At every stage of the search, we offer counsel on best practices. We know that eliminating bias in the search process is not possible, so we bring intentionality and research-based tools to decrease bias at each stage of the search process. Diversified Search Group hosts monthly DEI conversations to ensure our practitioners are on the cutting edge of all client/candidate issues in this arena. Our entire staff undergoes regular training to build skills in mitigating bias and facilitating conversations that touch on race, gender, age, nationality, and other areas of identity. Underlying our practices is an intentional commitment to ensure that our own team reflects the diversity of our client base and the people they serve. We actively seek to build a staff that is diverse in race, age, sexual orientation, gender, and life experience, among other things. We track diversity both internally and externally and use diversity metrics as a measurement of performance for our recruiters.

Please describe your ideal engagement. Feel free to include issue area and scope of project:

Koya has had an exclusive focus on mission-driven clients and was founded on the belief that the right leader can transform an organization and have a deep and measurable impact on our world. Koya is a generalist search firm serving the mission-drive sector and works with nonprofits & NGOs, foundations, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world. We focus on leadership searches including Board of Trustees/Directors, Presidents, CEO/EDs, C-level leadership roles, and other Director level positions.

How many executive-transition related projects have you or your firm been involved with?

In any given year, Koya completes approximately 300 searches nationally and globally. Typically, the local team based on the west coast is involved with approximately 30 searches annually.

Please describe your fee structure:

Our standard fee, based on the first year’s compensation, is one-third of the total cash compensation, including base salary, projected bonus and signing bonus. The client pays an estimate of this fee as a retainer, billed over the first three months of the search. Indirect (administrative) expenses are 2% of the total retainer fee billed each month of the duration of the assignment. This covers the apportionment of such administrative costs as database, communications platforms, software, and other operating expenses related to our search process.

What percentage of your clients are within the nonprofit sector?

Koya works exclusively with mission-driven clients. Of those, more than 90 percent are tax-designated 501c3s. A small portion of our clients are social enterprise and/or mission-driven entities in the private sector.

Are you open to remote engagements?


Briefly name and describe 1-3 examples of executive transitions with which you have been involved as a consultant (please prioritize NSI-funded and/or LA-based organizations).

Michelle Bonoan recently led the Executive Director search for Safe Place of Youth in mid-2021. She worked with the Board Chair and Search Committee to conduct an inclusive and comprehensive search process. Koya placed Erika Hartman as the Executive Director who follows Founder Alison Hurst after 7 years at the helm. Michelle Bonoan led the CEO search for the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Koya conducted a national search which resulted in Joe Hollendoner as the successful placement. Joe will follow Lorri Jean who is a nationally known iconic leader within the LGBT civil rights movement and who has led the Center for over 26 years. In June 2021, Michelle Bonoan placed Stephania Ramirez as the first Executive Director for the Perenchio Foundation. In partnership with the Board, Stephania will develop and lead the grantmaking strategy of the Foundation. This private family foundation’s mission is recognizing the essential role that arts play in building equitable, culturally vibrant, and inclusive communities, and the Foundation will support and foster arts organizations in Los Angeles County with a focus on quality, permanence, and accessibility.

Add any other information you feel would aid in understanding the value you or your consulting firm can bring to an organization preparing for or implementing an executive transition:

Please list up to 5 Consultants from your firm

Michelle Bonoan, Managing Director Michelle Bonoan is a Managing Director at Koya Partners, a national executive search firm that exclusively partners with the Education, Nonprofit and Social Enterprises sectors. With nearly 25 years of experience as a search consultant, she has led executive searches across a wide range of industries and functions. She brings an authentic DEI lens to her work and partners with clients to create an inclusive and equitable search process from to start to completion. As a specialist serving the Education and Nonprofit sectors, she has successfully completed searches for executives at the highest tiers, including board members, president/CEO, executive director, chief financial officer, human resources, fundraising leadership, program management, and a wide range of other key positions. Her clients are nationwide and encompass a variety of mission-driven organizations dedicated to social justice, education, social services, arts and culture, LGBTQ+ , children and family services, environment, and health-related issues, as well as prominent educational institutions such as research and private universities, small liberal arts colleges, independent college preparatory schools and charter management organizations. mbonoan@koyapartners.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellebonoan/

Do you always conduct an organizational assessment as a part of your scope of work?

Yes, we feel it’s important to conduct an organizational assessment as part of our scope of work to identify a clear profile of the leader an organization needs at a particular moment in time. This is foundational to every search assignment and helps us not only understand what kind of leadership the organization needs but also what style, lived experience and/or other experiences/ background would add to the organization’s current culture. We begin our work with our clients with a holistic, analytical needs assessment. We conduct carefully facilitated discussions and surveys with the client, board, staff, and other constituents to develop a nuanced understanding of the aspirations for the institution in the upcoming chapter and the desired skills, qualities, characteristics and competencies of the leader.

How (or do) you involve senior staff and other stakeholders in the process

We conduct carefully facilitated discussions and surveys with the client, board, staff, and other constituents to develop a nuanced understanding of the aspirations for the institution in the upcoming chapter and the desired skills, qualities, and characteristics of the leader. We use our findings from these discussions to craft or revise the Position Profile, which serves as the primary marketing document for the search, articulates the key competencies, and is used to communicate search priorities. The qualities, skills, characteristics and competencies outlined in the Position Profile serve as the guidepost during all remaining steps in the search.

Prior to narrowing the pool of candidates for a client, do you make it a practice to share the full list of applicants with the client?

Our team briefs the client on the candidate pool throughout the search process, including all applicants, and provides comprehensive candidate materials that include biographical information as well as individual strengths and areas of consideration for each finalist candidate. We work with the client to decide which candidates will be invited to interview as we narrow the pool of candidates.

Do you identify/place interim executives?

Not at this time.

Do you have a minimum fee?

Typically, our minimum fee is $50,000.

What percentage of your searches are for LA-based organizations?

Michelle Bonoan, Koya’s Managing Director, leads most of the firm’s searches on the West Coast. She oversees the vast majority of Koya’s searches for LA-based organizations. Her portfolio is approximately 60% LA based organizations.

What is your track record of placing BIPOC candidates?

In 2021, 58% of Koya’s placements were BIPOC leaders. In 2021, 68% of Michelle Bonoan’s placements were BIPOC leaders.

Do you have a guarantee policy or an “off-limits” policy?

Given the depth and range of our successful placements, we are often asked about potential ‘off limits’ issues in our work. We are happy to discuss our unique situation given our exclusive focus on mission driven search. In short, we do not place entire client organizations off limits. Our list is limited to active searches and leaders we have placed in their current roles (within a reasonable amount of time). For searches at the CEO/President/Executive Director level, we offer a one year guarantee.