Robert Acton, JD is Principal and Founder of Cause Strategy Partners, a firm that provides strategic counsel and high-impact programming to foundations, companies and social good organizations with a specialized focus on building both board and executive leadership. We have extensive experience partnering with local, regional and national foundations; Fortune 500 corporate social responsibility groups; and nonprofit boards of directors, chief executives and staff leaders.
Rob has more than two decades of experience founding, leading and scaling social good organizations as both a nonprofit chief executive and board leader. He has provided strategic counsel and consulting to numerous Fortune 500 companies including Google, Barclays, LinkedIn, BlackRock, Citigroup, MasterCard, Cushman & Wakefield, ConEdison, Time Warner, HBO, The Macquarie Group, Alcoa, and Verizon. Rob has developed strong partnerships with leading philanthropic foundations including The Ford Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Robin Hood Foundation, to name a few. For the last ten years, Rob has frequently written, taught and presented on the topics of board service, nonprofit leadership, and social impact.
In 2011, Rob was appointed Executive Director of Taproot Foundation in New York City and served as interim leader of the foundation’s work in Chicago in 2014, as well. Taproot Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging business executives in pro bono service in order to strengthen the nonprofit sector and, in turn, our nation’s communities. Rob led the organization’s strategic effort to build a multi-million dollar pro bono marketplace in New York City. During his four-year tenure, revenue more than doubled and the number of nonprofit organizations served grew 220%. Partnering with more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies and philanthropic foundations, Rob helped drive an expansion of the organization’s programmatic offerings. Most notably, Rob worked with the Heckscher Foundation for Children, Google and Alcoa to build a board seat program that recruited and trained more than 100 executives and employees for board service in six U.S. cities.
Prior to Taproot, Rob led Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) in Chicago. During his seven year tenure as Executive Director, CGLA grew substantially in size, reputation and community impact, expanding ten-fold the number of indigent clients served, adding policy work as a key aspect of its programs, tripling the agency’s annual revenue, scaling pro bono legal service, and doubling the organization’s staff. Under Rob’s leadership, CGLA received Chicago’s prestigious Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence.
Training others to lead effectively is one of Rob’s passions. He has served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University College of Law and North Park University in Chicago. He is a frequent presenter with the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management and was on the design team of the Center’s New Nonprofit CEO Boot Camp. Since its inception, Rob has led a highly regarded session to help new nonprofit CEOs overcome the early challenges of nonprofit leadership. He presents regularly at conferences around the country.
Rob currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Development Committee of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, an organization representing and serving 1,500 member nonprofit organizations in the New York City region. He also serves on the Board Governance Committee of the NYC Anti-Violence Project. Previously, he was a founding Board member of Illinois Legal Aid Online, served on the Advisory Board of the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, and served on the Board of Trustees of Spring Arbor University. He was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and confirmed by the Senate to serve on a state commission investigating police abuse.
Rob is a member of the Bar of the State of New York. He attended Michigan public schools, Spring Arbor University & Brooklyn Law School.
Rob’s causes: second chances for ex-offenders, nonprofit capacity building and access to the arts.