Allison Handler



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A committed bicycle commuter, Allison Handler embraced the chance to race a tandem bicycle with a master’s national tandem champion in Eugene, Oregon, in 2001. Hard training paid off: “In the fourth and final stage, I was drooling and sweating like a pro, but we won the sprint.”

In other words, she likes a challenge.

That’s what she enjoys about nonprofit management consulting: helping groups – sometimes on the fly – work through a thorny patch to see clear road ahead. Since 2007, Allison has worked with nonprofit organizations and local governments on strategic planning, organizational assessment, business development, fundraising planning and financial feasibility.

She knows the challenges firsthand, having been in the nonprofit and public sector trenches. As a nonprofit board leader, executive director and staff member, she has wrestled with the same kinds of issues and questions as many of Solid Ground’s clients.

Allison got her first taste of public service as a land use planner in Missoula, Montana. She went on to found the Land Stewardship Program, a housing land trust in Missoula. She moved to Oregon to serve as the executive director of the Portland Community Land Trust, and she has served on the boards of the National Community Land Trust Network, Northwest Community Land Trust Coalition and Growing Gardens. Her work with land trusts of all stripes has been a happy marriage between her Master of Science in environmental studies (University of Montana) and her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy (Williams College).

Allison knows the challenges firsthand, having been in the nonprofit and public sector trenches.

Early in her career, Allison’s longtime interests in the natural sciences led her to become an exhibit interpreter (and one-time exhibit designer) for the paleontology hall of the Science Museum of Minnesota, an environmental educator and a designer of math/science curricula for a youth after-school program. Her mother is relieved she did not become a volcanologist.

But her work space belies that and other interests. Next to a photo of her husband, on her desk stand a big chunk of obsidian, Star Wars figurines, several dinosaur toys and a one-eighteenth inch scale model of her dream car: a 1955 Bel Air. On the wall, framed art features chickens and musical instruments. Allison is an unapologetic banjo player who still hopes to someday be “discovered.”

“I think it will be a long wait.”