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About Isaacson, Miller

About the Search Firm

im-logoIsaacson, Miller is a national executive search firm devoted to recruiting exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations. The firm was created in 1982, a time when civic institutions rarely used executive search firms. The firm has grown steadily, and today, Isaacson, Miller stands alone as a large, national, retained search firm dedicated to the full range of public and civic missions. They have active practices in higher education, science and social science research, human services, conservation and environmental defense, human and civil rights advocacy, K-12 education, academic and community healthcare, philanthropy, arts and culture, and community-based economic development, with sub-specialties in almost every functional area.

The Search Team

John Isaacson
person-profile-20057John Isaacson founded Isaacson, Miller in 1982. He grew up in Maine and was carefully groomed to be a third-generation Maine lawyer and fourth-generation entrepreneur. John was diverted in his twenties by academic and civic engagements, which took him to Dartmouth College for a BA; to the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship for a BA/MA in philosophy, politics, and economics; and to Harvard Law School.

Following law school, he chose a career in public service, beginning in the Executive Office of Human Services in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was employed as the state’s Recruiter for Commissioners in Human Services. He served three governors and five secretaries of human services over eight years, recruiting cabinet officers and commissioners. In between recruiting assignments, John served as an Assistant Commissioner and a Director in Juvenile Corrections and Child Welfare. By the end of his years of public service, John had benefited from working with senior colleagues who had gone on to successful careers in higher education, academic medicine, public authorities, and national foundations. In the early 1980s, these colleagues became the founding client base of the firm.

In his time leading Isaacson, Miller, John has conducted searches in many areas of the firm’s practice. However, in the last 15 years, he has focused principally on university, college, and medical center leadership, heading many of the firm’s university and college presidency searches. He has also focused on an array of dean, executive vice president, and physician executive roles for academic medical centers. He has attended with increasing interest to the values demonstrated in action by mission-driven organizations, the political and economic disciplines of their specialized markets, and the emotional and intellectual learnings that leaders acquire in a committed working life.

Kathryn Barry
Kate Barry_0123-142 (1)-LargeKate’s practice at Isaacson, Miller focuses on academic leadership positions, including numerous presidential searches for a wide range of clients. Since joining the firm in 2005, she has served Ivy League universities, liberal arts colleges, technology institutes, HBCUs and community colleges.

Public and private institutions also look to Kate for provost and academic dean searches, with which she has extensive experience. Our firm’s business school dean practice is bolstered by her dozens of searches in the field.

Prior to joining the firm, Kate was assistant director of alumni relations at Union College. Her role as the regional director for the college’s largest alumni territories involved recruiting volunteers and cultivating donors. Before joining the alumni relations office, she worked in the college’s admissions office. She is a member of the Union College Board of Trustees.

Kate’s passion for higher education is rooted in its profound impact on society as a vehicle for social justice, producer of new knowledge, and engine for innovation and discovery. This animates her drive to produce the highest-quality work and find the best matches to ensure the success of the diverse array of institutions she serves.

Micah Pierce
Senior Associate
person-profile-80174Focused on higher education, Micah has contributed to several high-profile searches since joining Isaacson, Miller in 2015. His persistency and thoroughness helped him place the system president for the University of Missouri along with the chancellor for its flagship campus.

Micah’s previous experience includes conducting internal audit and quality control for an international asset management firm and working at a career-development startup. The startup’s mission—to become the first comprehensive, web-based business to support job seekers—gave him insight into the search process from the candidate’s side.

Committed to serving the civic sector, Micah takes pride in working with nonprofit, mission-driven organizations on a daily basis.

Karen McPhedran

person-profile-80105Karen joined Isaacson, Miller as a search coordinator in 2014, providing logistical and administrative support for the search team. Since becoming an associate in 2016, she has worked in our firm’s higher education and environmental practice. Her recent searches include deans, provosts, executive directors, and presidents.

Clients appreciate Karen’s commitment to building robust and diverse pools of candidates as well as her dedication to mission-driven organizations. Her previous experience includes conducting executive-level searches at Harvard Medical School’s office of the executive dean for administration and working at the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus to increase the number of women participating in the political process throughout Massachusetts.

Outside of the office, Karen mentors middle school students in the Promising Pal Program in Boston and volunteers at Community Servings, a nonprofit nutrition program for those with chronic illnesses in the Boston area.