Whether your interest is increasing margin or social impact, we integrate strategy into all of our work. Our rigorous business planning process takes into account market opportunities, publicity and promotion, financial modeling, scenario planning, brand positioning, competitors, start-up, and operational costs.
Potrero Group excels at pulling together disparate pieces of information: surveys, literature review, different sources of information, and putting it into a coherent, comprehensible statement of what’s going on right now.”
We understand our clients' unique challenges and opportunities; for us this is a driving passion.
We take on only a limited number of clients at a time and give them our complete focus and attention. We work as a team and are dedicated to achieving the highest quality results.
We understand the power of networks and relationships. Our team routinely navigates complicated private, public, and nonprofit alliances. We have long-standing relationships with foundations, social enterprises, and game-changing innovators across the country.
Innovation means looking for solutions beyond the known—seeing past the status quo to find an entirely new way to approach a challenge.
Our team has spent many years analyzing and evaluating organizations and programs from the nonprofit, government, and for-profit industries. We have sophisticated expertise in research methods, data collection approaches, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and modeling. We are based in the San Francisco Bay Area and regularly work on projects nationwide.
An accomplished organizational leader in the environmental and entrepreneurial arenas for the past 20 years, Cleveland Justis is a principal at the Potrero Group and the executive director of UC Davis’ Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Formerly, Cleveland was co-founder and director of the Institute at the Golden Gate, where he led numerous high-profile organizational change initiatives.
A noted expert on social and environmental entrepreneurship, Cleveland has worked and consulted widely with companies, nonprofits, and governmental organizations including the National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and several leading corporations.
Cleveland has held faculty positions at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, UC Davis Graduate School of Management, Georgetown University, and Dominican University. Cleveland has organized many conferences and programs and is a sought-after keynote speaker, having served in a keynote role at Net Impact, the Ahwahnee Conference, the Environmental Forum, and the Agricultural Institute of Marin.
Cleveland has served in executive-level positions with the University of California, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Headlands Institute of NatureBridge (formerly Yosemite National Institutes), and the National Outdoor Leadership School. Cleveland currently serves as the Board Chair of the Marin Community Foundation ($1.5 billion in assets). He formerly served on the board of directors of Net Impact, an organization with a global network of more than 15,000 leaders who are changing the world through business, and as a commissioner of the Marin County Parks and Open Space Commission.
Cleveland studied biology and environmental sciences at Swarthmore College and the University of California at Berkeley. He received his MBA in strategic management and finance at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, and is currently pursuing his PhD in social entrepreneurship at UC Davis. Cleveland’s research interests include public/private partnerships, entrepreneurship, network analysis, and innovation.
Nicholas is a principal at the Potrero Group and has extensive leadership experience in the healthcare sector and in the field of social sector business planning. Nicholas’ consulting expertise is focused on social impact ventures. His work includes supporting non-profits to build capacity and develop strategic business plans. Recently, he was part of a team that helped optimize a complex partner network supporting a $500 million construction project at the St Louis Arch. Nicholas was the lead analyst for a network assessment of the 200 philanthropic organizations that support national parks. He also served as a consultant on the Food for the Parks initiative.
Nicholas has spoken at several national conferences, including Net Impact, on the topic of business planning in the social sector. He currently serves as the board secretary of Capay Valley Growers Inc., a for-profit social venture focused on regional agriculture sustainability.
Nicholas studied Physiology at the University of California at San Diego. He received his MS from the University of California at San Francisco and his MBA (with an emphasis on Nonprofit Organization Strategy) from University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
Andrew is a senior consultant with Potrero Group. He specializes in program design, leadership strategy, and project management for organizations in transition. Andrew is the founder of two nonprofit educational organizations and a past director with the Orfalea Foundation and senior manager for Outward Bound, On The Edge Productions, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
As senior program manager with the Institute at the Golden Gate, Andrew was instrumental in the development of Healthy Parks, Healthy People, a groundbreaking program linking parks with underserved, high health-need communities. He also was a leader of Food for the Parks, a program supporting the NPS’ adoption of healthy food standards for concession contracting.
A lifelong advocate for connecting people with the natural world, Andrew conceived and launched Climate in the Parks, a national program to promote science and climate change literacy through public lands. He has led transformative learning processes for organizations and individuals for more than 20 years. Andrew holds a somatic coach certification from Strozzi Institute and a degree in history from Gustavus.
Stephanie Duncan Karp is a senior consultant at the Potrero Group. For clients such as the National Park Conservation Association and the Council on Foundations, Stephanie has designed programs that help make meaningful connections between natural resources, social justice, and public health. Stephanie is also the lead researcher and author of the National Park Service’s Urban Agenda. She began working with Potrero Group in 2013 to assist with field research and stakeholder engagement for organizations such as the Sonoma Land Trust, National Park Foundation, and Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership. Stephanie employs creativity and collaboration as her primary tools for engendering change.
Prior to her consulting work, Stephanie served as a program manager at the Institute at the Golden Gate, where she created programs that utilize parks and public lands to solve broader societal issues. At the Institute, she helped create Park Prescriptions, a movement to connect public lands to our healthcare system, and launched the National Park Service's Healthy Parks Healthy People US initiative nationwide. Stephanie founded Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area, a collective impact initiative of over 40 public lands, public health, academic and corporate partners to increase park use and enjoyment for the health and wellbeing of all San Francisco Bay Area residents. Stephanie received her BA from Swarthmore College.
Cheryl Little has more than 20 years of experience in community sustainability, equitable development, land revitalization, and transportation. She delivers technical assistance, capacity building, and collaborative planning focused on environmental restoration, cultural sustainability, and the inclusion of low-income individuals, people of color and indigenous communities in decision-making. She is recognized for leading multidisciplinary teams and dialogues to resolve complex environmental issues. Cheryl has served as the director of the National Vacant Properties Campaign at Smart Growth America, associate director of the Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment Program and as a task force coordinator for the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. Cheryl has received numerous awards for evaluating large-scale programs, including a $1 billion R&D initiative on intelligent transportation systems and driverless vehicles. A skilled communicator, Cheryl has broad experience designing, writing and editing in print and web formats to transform complex technical and regulatory information into meaningful and engaging content. She has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and a master’s in international development from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Collaboration has been around forever, but there is now a changing understanding of what that means. We must work together in networks. If an organization can position itself in the context of what others are doing, they can have bigger impact.”
Our team has worked closely with large and small organizations from national park units to regional governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, and hospitals. We have deep experience in public-private partnerships and actively lecture and write about social enterprises. Click on one of the images below to read a case study of one of our projects or download one of our reports.
The National Park Foundation (NPF) works within a large network of local park partners throughout the country. Potrero Group conducted a qualitative and quantitative analysis of 216 nonprofit partners that support the National Park Service (NPS). The objective was to help both NPF and NPS better understand these partners and their needs.
Potrero Group's research helped to characterize and analyze the structure and scope of the NPS partner community. The research identified opportunities to enhance NPS’s and National Park Foundation’s engagement with partners. One of the outcomes of the work was the development of common assessment metrics for partners’ outcomes, growth, and sustainability.
A coalition led by the Sonoma Land Trust and Parent Hospital Association sought novel approaches to transform a closing state institution in Northern California. The strategic analysis and research accounted for social issues, regional contexts, local and statewide political climate and community interests.
Potential models were developed for an innovative, community driven public-private partnership at the Sonoma Developmental Center. The client and its coalition learned best practices for transforming large public institutions for new uses. They were able to bring innovative practices and relevant examples to discussions with state agencies and legislators.
MCE utilizes an entrepreneurial public-private partnership model (community choice aggregation) that is transforming clean energy delivery. MCE needed to present a business case to state regulators in support of the organization's ability to compete with larger utility providers in the energy efficiency market.
MCE has a tailored approach to customer engagement which allows them to provide flexible energy efficiency solutions and unparalleled service delivery. Potrero Group helped MCE demonstrate that their deep market knowledge and high levels of customer service differentiate their business model from other service providers.
MCE moved forward to expand the scope and scale of their energy efficiency programs with confidence. State regulators now have a powerful tool to evaluate the energy efficiency contributions of MCE and other organizations that elect to use a similar model.
The Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership and the Napa Valley Coalition of Nonprofit Agencies sought to understand the economic and social impacts of the nonprofits in Napa County. Potrero Group conducted a mixed method analysis of 634 nonprofits in Napa County and delivered a report detailing findings and recommendations for further research and community engagement.
Nonprofits and those who support them are more effective when they:
Nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, and government partners now have a tool and a common language to discuss the role, impact, and needs of local nonprofits and the community at large.
The National Wildlife Federation(NWF) was interested in expanding its programming for environmental education for urban youth. The focus of this project was the potential for developing a remote facility into an experiential education center. Potrero Group worked with NWF to identify goals and benchmarks, test assumptions, and develop models to inform strategic decisions.
There was tremendous need and hope for the project, yet it came with significant risk, logistical challenges, and costs that put its initial appeal into a practical context. Three business models were developed that could meet NWF's goals, each requiring varying investment and producing different outcomes and impacts. Our research helped to uncover the ways in which potential funders would respond to a proposed innovation in a relatively stabilized field, as well as the realities and market opportunities of the proposed project.
The organization had a data-driven decision-making tool for assessing the feasibility of pursuing the opportunity. Their engagement with stakeholders and partners was strengthened through the use of common language, metrics, and assessments.
An internationally recognized national park wanted to develop cutting edge educational programming. The project was an outcome of a public-private partnership between NPS and its philanthropic partners. Potrero Group helped guide the project through initial inquiry and feasibility, narrowed the scope of the project with stakeholders, developed a business plan, and supported the launch of the new organization.
As stakeholders evaluated different business and program models, three core principals emerged. The institution would:
The Pearl Harbor Institute launched in the spring of 2014 and the first executive director was hired in the fall of 2014. Programming began in the spring of 2015.