We want to see nonprofits and foundations create the most positive impact they possibly can with available resources.
While there are many ways we help you do this — including our data-driven approach to strategy, deep knowledge of the sector, and a view on performance that’s both ambitious and pragmatic — we believe a crucial element to your success lies in the rigorous practice of listening to the people you serve.
All too often, organizations make assumptions about what clients need or presume to know what clients think and how they feel. Through our years of work, we’ve seen the extraordinary value of seeking out client perspectives directly and responding to them systematically. While we’re well-versed in standard consulting work, this is what makes us unique: our ability to help you capitalize on this source of untapped insight that most organizations overlook.
Built upon the experience of our founder, Valerie Threlfall, and her more than ten years of leadership in the feedback space, Ekouté will help you gather, interpret and respond to stakeholder perspectives — and use these insights to develop strategies and operational improvements that create meaningful differences for your organizations and the people you serve.
Our name, Ekouté, is inspired by the French word for "listen".
Driving our work is a rare group of consultants who bring strong practitioner experience, deep analytical skills, and an abiding commitment to excellence. A healthy dose of skepticism keeps our feet planted firmly on the ground, even as we help you reach for higher achievements.
VALERIE THRELFALL Principal
Valerie’s consulting approach is informed by more than 15 years experience working as a nonprofit practitioner and leader within highly successful startup organizations. Valerie created her initial consulting firm in 2013, establishing an early presence in the Bay Area’s nonprofit youth and education space. In 2015, she was engaged by the Fund for Shared Insight to help design and lead what has become their signature initiative, Listen for Good. This initiative has scaled rapidly to be a leading capacity building program on feedback practices, serving more than 150 nonprofit grantees nationwide.
Prior to creating Ekouté, Valerie served as Vice President and founding director of the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s (CEP) YouthTruth initiative, scaling the project from an idea described in a two-page memo to a nationally recognized nonprofit that captures and shares youth perspectives with school leaders to inform change.
After leading the landscape analysis that justified YouthTruth’s development (in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Valerie designed the YouthTruth pilot and expanded it four-fold within two years. Under her leadership, YouthTruth surveyed more than 125,000 students from 215 schools across 28 districts/networks over three years and produced tangible improvements in participating schools. To date, more than 85% of participating educators have used YouthTruth data to inform their programmatic and policy decisions.
In addition, Valerie produced the business plan that transitioned the organization to an earned revenue model and secured more than $2.6 million in multiyear bridge funding to support this transition.
From 2002-2007, Valerie helped build a successful startup biotechnology company, Momenta Pharmaceuticals (publicly traded, $750 million at peak). Joining as the 12th employee, Valerie drafted the company’s first business plan, and its registration statement and roadshow presentation when it went public less than 24 months after founding. During her tenure, she was responsible for corporate-wide strategic planning, budgeting, executive-level portfolio management and developed the initial infrastructure for multiple departments, including commercial development and public, investor and government relations.
Valerie holds an MBA with distinction from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a Master’s of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore College.
Contact Valerie at Valerie@ekoute.com
ALEX MCKINNON Project/Community Manager
Alex joined Ekouté in 2017 and currently serves as project manager for Listen for Good, an initiative of the Fund for Shared Insight. In addition, Alex is spearheading the development of a public-facing website that captures project learnings over the past three years.
Previously, Alex conducted strategic and landscape analyses for Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies and was a key project strategist at Kiva.org. Additionally, she spent two years in project management at Airbnb as a part of their mobile products unit.
Alex holds a Master’s of International Affairs, International Politics and Economics from the University of California, San Diego and a Bachelor’s in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Contact Alex at Alex@ekoute.com
REBECCA KLEIN Consultant
Rebecca joined Ekouté in Fall 2018 and supports a variety of initiatives, including Ekouté’s strategy, measurement, and feedback projects as well as the Listen4Good initiative on behalf of the Fund for Shared Insight.
Before joining Ekouté, Rebecca worked at a social impact measurement consulting firm, supporting nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to define, measure, report, and improve the social impact of their initiatives. She brings significant experience with survey design, data collection, and helping clients improve strategy through measurement.
Rebecca is a graduate of Northwestern University, receiving a degree in International Studies and History
Contact Rebecca at Rebecca@ekoute.com
ANGELA HALL Data Analyst
Angela joined Ekouté in 2018. As Data Analyst, she primarily supports the Fund for Shared Insight’s Listen for Good initiative by monitoring client behavior and analyzing trends in nonprofit feedback practices to inform Listen for Good's decision making and impact measurement efforts.
With a background in economics, Angela has worked as a Senior Research Assistant for the STEM Education Research Centre at the University of Canberra in Australia. In this role, she supported the implementation and reporting for an Australian Aid project focused on building teacher capacity to enhance mathematics teaching and learning in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. For two years, she was a Research Project Assistant on education, workforce development, and youth outcomes projects at Informing Change in Berkeley. She also has experience working at nonprofit organizations around the Bay Area.
Angela holds a Master’s in Economics from Uppsala University in Sweden. She also holds Bachelor’s degrees in economics and business administration from the University of California, Berkeley.
Contact Angela at email@example.com
JENNY BOYLES Executive Assistant
Jenny joined Ekouté in 2017. As Executive Assistant, she coordinates correspondence within the firm on behalf of Valerie, as well as with Ekouté’s clients, partners and contractors.
Prior to her work with Ekouté, Jenny served as Command Team Advisor for the United States Marine Corps, VM FAT 101 while her husband was in active duty. In that capacity, she assisted with volunteer event coordination and provided important communications support to enhance the lives of deployed military members and their families.
Jenny holds a Master’s of Museum Administration from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s of English Literature and American Studies from Miami University.
Contact Jenny at Jenny@ekoute.com
In addition to our full-time staff, we work on a project basis with a pool of independent consultants who have specific expertise in strategic planning, survey design, data analysis, organizational development and learning efforts.