Alison P. Ranney

Alison Ranney partners with corporate and philanthropic organizations to lead their CEO and board director searches. A recognized expert, Alison is known for her effective, pragmatic approach that serves a broad range of corporations and organizations, as well as her proven track record for improving diversity at the CEO and board levels.

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Alison specializes in leading CEO, board, and C-suite searches for corporate and philanthropic organizations. With almost two decades in executive search and experience as a corporate attorney, she has deep expertise in partnering with boards on leadership, corporate governance, and other key topics.

Alison’s passion for executive recruiting began at Russell Reynolds Associates in 2005, where she led CEO, board, and other senior-level searches. During the eight years she originally spent with our firm, Alison received the inaugural award for Excellence in Client Service.

Alison went on to found the Chicago Office of a boutique executive search firm in 2014. She served as Partner in Charge during nine years of significant growth that culminated in an acquisition. Alison is deeply proud of the impact of that firm, particularly its record on diversity—almost 60% of the CEOs and other senior executives placed were leaders of color and more than 65% were women.

She returned to Russell Reynolds to focus on work that will diversify the boards of organizations. She also continues her decades-long leadership of mission-driven CEO and C-suite searches, in which she focuses on leadership qualities, skills, and characteristics instead of qualifications to make senior leadership more open, especially for women and leaders of color.

Many publications have featured Alison’s work, such as Crain’s, which noted in a cover profile: “Alison Ranney is remaking what leadership looks like across the country.”

Before executive search, Alison was a corporate attorney at Skadden, Arps. She also served as an executive with AT&T Wireless and, before that, Vice President of the firm responsible for Prairie Crossing, the award-winning conservation community. Immediately after graduating from college, Alison taught 250 schoolchildren in Guatemala.

Alison has been a director with Wintrust Financial Corporation for almost two decades. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of Wintrust Bank, where she serves on the Compensation & Nominating and Audit Committees.

She has also served on numerous other local and national boards, including World Business Chicago, Chicago Public Media/WBEZ, Public Radio International, and the Goodman Theatre. Organizations often connect with Alison to chair Governance & Nominating committees due to her deep expertise.

Alison is an active member of The Commercial Club, The Economic Club, and The Chicago Network, among others.

Alison received her BA from Brown University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She earned her MBA and JD at the University of Chicago, where she has been a member of the Visiting Committee of the Law School. She has also been part of the Alumni Council at Phillips Andover Academy.
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Areas of Expertise

Board and CEO Advisory Board Director and Chair Search Board Effectiveness Board of Directors CEO Succession Chief Executive Officers Social Impact

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