J. Michael Durnil, Ph.D.

Director of Executive Search

With extensive professional experience in K-16 education, foundations, corporate philanthropy, arts, and not-for-profit leadership, Michael is an accomplished executive who has proven leadership, systems integration, program expansion, board development, fundraising, and stakeholder engagement for organizations focused on often overlooked and underserved populations.

Michael brings a depth and breadth of knowledge to this role from sitting on both sides of the executive search table. With over 30 years of experience creating organizational sustainability and scalability and charting operations for mission-driven, non-profit, educational, arts, and media-based organizations, he has been routinely sought after to serve as a change leader, hired to be the first in a role for innovation or to bridge an organization from where it is to where it wants to be. The hallmark of Michael’s career has been to excel at taking a good organization and making it a great organization while serving in roles as varied as Board Chair, Trustee, CEO, CAO, Campus President, CSAO, CMO, and Arts Commissioner. His experience includes identifying talent and cultivating high functioning teams who exceed goals and increase organizational capacity and reach.

Driven by achieving outcomes through education and philanthropy, Michael leverages his core values which center around belonging, fairness, diversity, equity, inclusion, outreach, and social justice. Michael’s academic background includes a research focus on cultural advocacy and social psychology along with being co-author on the original protocols for Illinois HIV-AIDS Education Consortium. His uniquely held competencies intersect the organizational management of high-net worth family philanthropy, place-based giving, corporate social responsibility, not-for-profit operating guidelines, and educational institutions.

Michael has lived in many cities across the country, and traveled extensively, but now calls Newport, Kentucky home with his husband, Lynn Burnside Smith, and their rescue puggle mix Frank. In his spare time, he is a competitive baker and enjoys being involved with community theatre.

Post-Doctoral Certificate from Institute of Educational Management – Harvard University
Ph.D., Educational Leadership + Policy Studies – Loyola University Chicago
Master of Science, Education Administration + Foundations – Illinois State University
Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences – Illinois State Univeristy