Tom Klaus

Founding Partner

I’m lucky enough to have done what I love for my entire career.

Non-profit organizations play an indispensable leadership role in working with community members to create the kind of conditions that make this a better world for all people.

I have been a non-profit organization leader for my entire career, having created my first community initiative for youth when I was 17 years old. Since then, most organizations I’ve worked with and led have also been youth serving organizations. The scope or service areas of the organizations have ranged from local/rural to local/urban to statewide to regional to national and international. As a leader I’ve had a range of responsibilities as well, including creating, growing, maintaining, sustaining, and even mercifully putting to rest organizations.

Tom Klaus, PhD, Founder, Partner, and Developer of the Tenacious Change Approach

Today I continue to believe in the power of non-profit organizations as catalysts for good. I am passionate about the role of non-profits to create sustainable social change and achieve the greater good for all through collective change leadership. Animating this passion has been a life-long pursuit and led me to the conviction that we human beings have a responsibility to:

In 2005 I moved to Washington, DC from my home state of Iowa. In Iowa I 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. I also had the opportunity to author several books, a couple of which were nominated for book awards, and one actually won.

Throughout my life I have been a non-traditional student. While working full-time and raising a family, I have been fortunate to earn 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. I have also benefitted from some excellent professional training and development:

    • Appreciative Inquiry (Certified Facilitator)

    • Courageous Follower (Training with and Certified Trainer by creator Ira Chaleff)

    • Dynamic Governance

    • Institute of Program Development and Evaluation

    • Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute

In 2013 I opened the consulting practice Tenacious Change which is focused on animating and equipping people, organizations, and communities to lead ownership-based change for the greater good. I am also an adjunct faculty in Eastern University’s College of Business and Leadership where I teach Collaborative Leadership and Partnership and serve on several dissertation committees in the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program. My own doctoral research examined leadership in intractable conflict over sexuality education in public schools in the United States. I am also honored to be a Thought Leader with the Tamarack Institute, a Canadian international charity focused on community and system change.

Over a period of 20+ years I worked with my friend and colleague Dr. Ed Saunders (Director, University of Iowa School of Social-Retired) to develop and test an organizational, community, and system change approach known today as the Tenacious Change Approach. While Ed enjoys his retirement, I remain the keeper and primary trainer of the Tenacious Change Approach. In 2016 I was surprised and honored with an invitation to President Obama’s White House to meet with Promise Zone partners from throughout the United States because of my work on the Tenacious Change Approach.

Today, as Jakob’s dad, I’m pleased and proud to be sharing the work of Tenacious Change with him. Though I did not expect our careers would converge as they have, I’m glad we discovered that they do. Jakob’s training and preparation in social change, research, and business administration, his years of facilitating personal and family change as a social worker within the disability community, and his experiential knowledge of group, organizational, and community change as a union organizer are invaluable assets to Tenacious Change. And now they are also available to our clients!

Tom Klaus

P.S. In 2021 my friend and colleague, Sharna Fabiano, did this interview with me on the topic of Relational Trust for her Lead & Follow Podcast. If you’d like to learn more about me, take a few minutes to give it a listen.