Tom Klaus is one of an emerging group of organizational leadership professionals known as “pracademics” (practitioner + academic). As such, he has a deep appreciation for theory and is trained and experienced as an academic researcher. One of Tom’s favorite quotes is from Kurt Lewin, the father of organizational psychology and action research, who said: “There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” Yet, Tom also possesses the ability to translate theory into effective practice. He is a practitioner of nonprofit organizational leadership, with extensive experience with children’s charity, advocacy, adolescent sexual health, and faith community organizations. His expertise includes program development, testing, replication, and evaluation; community engagement; coalition, collaboration, and partnership building and management; program and organizational sustainability; leadership and board development; nonprofit organizational analysis; strategy planning and nonprofit strategic management; strategic controversy management; and the emerging social change approach popularly known as “Collective Impact.”
From 2005 to 2013 Tom was Director of Capacity Building & Sustainability at Advocates for Youth in Washington, DC. During that time he served as a project director and as a technical assistance (TA) provider for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded teen pregnancy prevention project. In the role of project director he managed the daily work of the project. As a lead TA provider he created and provided organizational and leadership development training, coaching, materials, and support to local, state, regional and national organizations on a variety of issues, including controversy management, project and organizational sustainability, collaborative partnerships, organizational change and program evaluation. From 2010 to 2013, Tom led the development of an innovative community mobilization and sustainability framework that is being used by the CDC in its teen pregnancy prevention grantee sites across the United States.
Tom moved to the East Coast in 2005, from his home state of Iowa, where he had been the executive director and a founding board member of Iowa’s statewide teen pregnancy prevention organization; a developer and master trainer of several teen pregnancy prevention programs that were replicated nationally; a writer of numerous articles and curricula; a youth worker and counselor; and had held local, state, regional, national, and international leadership positions in both religious and public service organizations.
He has written award winning and award nominated books on adolescent issues for religious publishers. He has also traveled throughout the United States as a speaker in hundreds of schools, colleges, and conferences on topics related to teen pregnancy prevention, adolescent sexual health, male involvement in teen pregnancy prevention, and organizational leadership and change.
Tom Klaus is an alumnus of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and a trained facilitator in Appreciative Inquiry, an asset-based change and development model for organizations. He has also received training in the fundamentals of Dynamic Governance, a sociocratic approach to organizational leadership and management. Tom earned degrees in religion and English at William Penn University, a Master of Science degree in counseling from Drake University, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership (Nonprofit Concentration) at Eastern University.
In 2013 Tom opened a consulting practice, now known as Tenacious Change, LLC, which is focused on animating and equipping people, organizations, and communities to lead change for the greater good. He is also adjunct faculty in Eastern University’s School of Leadership and Development and Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program. Tom’s doctoral research examined leadership in intractable conflict over sexuality education in public schools in the United States. Other recent research and consulting work has included community engagement, reflective leadership, program and organizational sustainability, intractable conflict management, leadership development and coaching, organizational analysis, and board development. Currently, with Dr. Ed Saunders, Tom’s research has focused on developing and testing a community and social change framework, Roots to Fruit of Sustainable Community Change, now known as the Tenacious Change Approach.
Tom Klaus is known by his colleagues and clients as an authentic transformational leader; an innovative and focused strategic thinker and planner; a creative problem-solver; a talented trainer, teacher, and motivational speaker; an award-winning writer of numerous books, popular press articles, and professional research publications; and an effective relationship builder with a warm and engaging personality, appreciative management style, and a keen, quirky sense of humor. Tom is also a pretty good golfer; an avid (though not great) ballroom dancer; a frequent (though not often enough) dog walker to his miniature schnauzers; and a practicing (though not perfect) Quaker.