David La Piana

Founder and Chairman

Alameda, CA

Meet David, our Founder and Chairman.


David La Piana (he/him) is passionate about helping people achieve results, whether it is powering a social change initiative, growing a direct service organization, or achieving measurable impacts through new philanthropic strategies. He is motivated by new challenges and has made a career of developing novel approaches to complex questions. David brings a positive, solutions-focused approach to his work, partnering with social sector leaders, who are the experts in their own experience.

David is particularly skilled at helping clients with new, complex, and critical challenges that require out of the box thinking and with bringing together diverse constituents to solve problems they share but might define differently from one another. Prior to founding the firm in 1998, David worked in the refugee resettlement, food security, and children’s mental health fields. As CEO of East Bay Agency for Children, he led the organization through an extended period of unprecedented growth driven in part by mergers. He began his nonprofit career with VISTA as a community organizer working with migrant farm workers.


Impact Approach

David is a practical person who wants to see real change resulting from his work. He finds it very gratifying when a client has a breakthrough moment – a successful merger, a bold new strategy, a more powerful board-staff partnership.



  • University of San Francisco, Masters of Public Administration (Nonprofit Management)
  • UC Berkeley, MA and BA in Comparative Literature
  • Universidad Complutenese, Madrid, study abroad


Outside of Work

David has a secret second career as a novelist. He’s written a handful, but only one is available in print, First Generation, inspired by his family’s immigrant journey.


Select Clients

Select Publications

  • ACLU, nationally and the 3 chapters in California

  • Ford Foundation

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

  • NAACP Legal Defense Fund


  • YMCA and YWCA (national and local affiliates)

David has authored a number of popular books, including:

Plus numerous articles appearing in Stanford Social Innovation Review, including:

He created The Next Steps Career Workbook for Senior Executives, and his latest work is Adapt, a primer for creating a more adaptive culture. As an acknowledged expert in social sector leadership, David was asked to contribute the entries for Strategic Planning and Business Planning in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Nonprofit Management, Leadership, and Governance.