Cooper Coleman Expands Executive Search Team With Veteran Nonprofit Leaders, Ben Bisbee and Dr. J. Michael Durnil

Chicago, IL – Cooper Coleman LLC, a national boutique nonprofit-focused executive search firm, welcomes two new Directors of Executive Search: Ben Bisbee and J. Michael Durnil, Ph.D. These new appointments come at a time of significant expansion for Cooper Coleman, reinforcing the firm’s commitment to driving meaningful growth and impact for nonprofit organizations.

Ben Bisbee joins Cooper Coleman with nearly 30 years of multi-sector leadership experience. He has built award-winning programs in volunteer management, community engagement, corporate social responsibility, JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion), and fundraising. Known for his innovative approach and dedication to social good, Ben has worked with numerous prominent organizations, including the American Red Cross, Apple, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, AT&T, 4-H, and the United Nations, among many others.

In 2016, he founded a nonprofit consulting firm that helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for clients, engaged thousands of volunteers, and placed numerous talented employees across the sector. Ben identifies as a neurodivergent, queer, bi-racial cis man and is a proud member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. He lives in Northeast Ohio with his husband of 20 years. He is also an accomplished author and editor, having written several award-winning industry books, including his first, a pre-pandemic Amazon bestseller and ahead-of-its-time, The Unashamed Guide to Virtual Management, published by ATD Press that presents playful yet straightforward answers to critical questions about how to manage virtual teams.

“I am thrilled to make such a significant pivot in how I serve the social sector as a professional, “Bisbee shared, adding, “I’m eager to bring my vast experience across the philanthropic landscape to bear in this new capacity, which I view and a scalable, systemic application of my skills and resources to many missions by identifying the leaders who will shape their future impact.”

J. Michael Durnil, Ph.D., brings over 30 years of experience in K-16 education, foundations, corporate philanthropy, and not-for-profit leadership to the Cooper Coleman team. He has a proven track record in systems integration, program expansion, board development, fundraising, and stakeholder engagement. Before joining Cooper Coleman, Michael held numerous executive leadership positions, including Executive Director at Scripps National Spelling Bee, Campus President for Roosevelt University in Schaumburg, IL, and Interim President and Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at GLAAD.

A hallmark of Michael’s career has been taking good organizations and making them great while serving in roles as varied as Board Chair, Trustee, CEO, Chief Administrative Officer, Campus President, CSAO, Chief Marketing Officer, and Arts Commissioner. His competencies uniquely intersect the organizational management of high-net-worth family philanthropy, place-based giving, corporate social responsibility, nonprofit operations, and educational institutions.

“This new dimension of my service to the social sector is a natural extension of all my experiences, personal and professional. I am fortunate to have found a firm as values-aligned and committed to social impact as Cooper Coleman. I see this as a rich opportunity to engage and support my extensive networks of leaders in higher education institutions and social service organizations in ways that elevate their operational performance, cultural contexts, and expectations of search firms,” said Durnil.

“Driven by their core values of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and social justice, Dr. Durnil and Mr. Bisbee are natural additions to our firm and will surely elevate our ability to expand our corporate philanthropy and higher education practices and serve our nonprofit sector clients,” said the firm’s Co-Founder, Bill Coleman. Michael’s academic background includes a Post-Doctoral Certificate from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership + Policy Studies from Loyola University Chicago. He is a Fellow of the American Council on Education and spent his residency year at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the United Nations. Michael and his husband, Lynn Burnside Smith, now call Greater Cincinnati home.

Founder and CEO of Cooper Coleman, Johnny Cooper, expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “Welcoming Ben and Michael to our team is a boon to our firm in many ways. The diversity of their backgrounds, lived experiences, and commitment to the nonprofit sector align perfectly with our mission and underscore our success and growth over the past few years. Our team of nine—and counting—is well-positioned to meet our clients’ increasing demand for exceptional leadership talent in the nonprofit sector. Cooper Coleman is poised to provide exceptional executive search services to drive meaningful impact for our clients.”

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