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.
Cleveland is the founder and principal of the Potrero Group. An accomplished organizational leader in entrepreneurship and the environment for the past 25 years, Cleveland has worked and consulted widely with startups, businesses, nonprofits, foundations, and governmental organizations, including the National Park Service, Resources Legacy Fund, and Grand Canyon Conservancy. He currently teaches Social Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
Cleveland’s expertise spans strategic planning, business planning, board development, public/private partnerships, entrepreneurship, network analysis, and innovation. He was formerly the executive director of the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and co-founded and served as director of the Institute at Golden Gate. He also held executive level positions at Headlands Institute of NatureBridge (formerly Yosemite National Institutes) and the National Outdoor Leadership School. Cleveland served as board chair of the Marin Community Foundation (over $2 billion in assets), as a board member 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 has earned an MBA and PhD from UC Davis and is a sought-after thought leader and speaker, regularly presenting at dozens of national conferences including Net Impact, the Ahwahnee Conference, the Environmental Forum, and the Agricultural Institute of Marin.
Jena Kuznik is a consultant with Potrero Group. Her work has primarily focused on recruitment for nonprofit leadership. She coordinates Potrero’s search and hiring process for thought leaders and non-traditional candidates for executive roles. In addition to her work with Potrero Group, Jena has managed projects for organizations focused on sustainable agriculture, water resilience, and environmental philanthropy. She specializes in developing collaborative partnerships between diverse actors to create broader impact.
Previously, Jena worked in agricultural investment as an operational risk analyst focused on sustainability and safety. Before that, she worked on the land as a cowgirl in New Mexico and Australia. Jena received her BS in international agricultural development from UC Davis and her Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Daniel serves as a Senior Consultant and Director of Business Development for Potrero Group. He has been a cultural, environmental, and social sector leader for over fifteen years and brings a unique cross-section of creative and business strategy to his work. His previous leadership positions included serving as Executive Director for Plays & Players Theatre and Administrative Director for International Performing Arts for Youth. Daniel has also served as a theater director of over thirty plays, from which he draws facilitation and innovation skills to bring to his client work.
Daniel's Potrero Group clients have included Outdoor Afro, North Cascades Institute, Audubon Delta, and Chabot Space & Science Center, for which he has led strategic planning, new program development, board transformation and executive search. Notably, Daniel led Potrero Group’s engagement through Resources Legacy Fund to provide program management to the development of California Natural Resource Agency’s 30x30 strategy to conserve thirty percent of the state's lands and coastal waters by 2030.
Daniel co-created a series of courses on Multinational Crosscultural Teams for UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education on Coursera, for which he authored and designed the curriculum. Daniel also co-authored a business case with Potrero Group Principal Dr. Cleveland Justis for the 2020 University of California SIEML leadership program for African American and Latina/o undergrads on Outdoor Afro’s new business ventures and with UC Davis Michael and Joelle Hurlston Presidential Chair Dr. Shannon Anderson on strategic cost management decisions made by community-driven food company The Town Kitchen during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. He won the global 2020 PwC/U21 Innovation Challenge for his presentation on the future of education to prepare students for jobs in a green economy. He has also co-presented at the Unite For Sight Global Health & Innovation Conference, Public Lands Alliance Conference, the Land Trust Alliance’s Rally Conference, and was the closing session co-keynote for the California League of Park Association’s Conference & Training.
Daniel received his MBA at U.C. Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM), where he was the recipient of the Newberry Distinguished Fellowship Award for Leadership, the largest privately funded fellowship awarded to two Full-Time MBAs who exhibit long-term CEO potential, as well as the Brad Atwood Scholarship for Social Responsibility.
Karli Cowman (she/her/hers) is an Associate Consultant with Potrero Group. Her background is in Environmental Education and Youth Development. For over 10 years she lived and worked in the Golden Gate National Recreation area where she connected youth to the natural world as an Environmental Educator and Youth Development Program Manager. She is passionate about deconstructing and dismantling reinforcing systems of oppression that present in organizations and removing barriers to access to support equity, inclusion, and belonging outdoors. She is an intersectional environmentalist who is particularly interested in the overlap of environmentalism and queerness.
Karli received her BA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz, where she also played on the Women’s Soccer team, and her MA in Organization Development from Sonoma State University.
Andrew is the managing director of 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.
Steph is an Associate Consultant with Potrero Group. She supports project planning and managements by conducting high-level research and analysis of client materials. Her background is in analyzing political systems and movements in academia. She supports Potrero’s business development, operations, and communications.
Previously, Steph was the administrative coordinator at the Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School. In addition to supporting Mark and the IOP’s leadership team, she also coordinated with the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum and the Fellows and Study Groups Program by assisting with scheduling and planning brainstorming meetings. Equipped with experience building relationships with students, coordinating high-level events, and working with different partners across the University, Steph provided administrative reinforcement to the Institute. Prior to the IOP, Steph worked as a staff assistant at the Harvard Global Health Institute supporting research and programmatic teams in operational logistics. Steph received her BA in International Relations and Community Health from Tufts University.
Gina is a consultant with Potrero Group. She is a consultant to nonprofit and for-profit organizations looking to improve their organizational effectiveness and long-term sustainability. She has over 20 years of experience across nonprofits, foundations, K-12 schools, universities, and technology start-ups. As a CEO, Gina led strategic growth, organizational priorities, and management for a nonprofit organization serving educators, youth organizations, families, and students. As Vice President of Programs for a Silicon Valley EdTech company, Gina managed strategic partnerships and designed initiatives to improve daily operations across international engineering teams and education, marketing, and program departments. She has also served as a nonprofit board member and currently serves on the PTA Board and School Site Council for a Berkeley, CA public school.
Gina has also worked as adjunct faculty at the University of San Francisco’s School of Education, a curriculum and product design director at Stanford University, a middle school dean, and a classroom teacher for grades 3-6. Gina is a graduate of California State University where she earned a B.S. in Psychology, and of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, where she earned a master’s degree in Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies.
Kara is a Senior Consultant with Potrero Group specializing in leadership development, diversity/equity/inclusion, strategy, and evaluation. She has over 20 years of cross-sector consulting experience with policymakers, foundations, nonprofits, and corporations.
As the founder of Gender Lenz and a Visiting Scholar for the EDGE in Technology Initiative at the University of California, Kara provided professional development training, strategic advising, and research to improve the representation and career advancement of women and BIPOC in engineering and computer science fields. Previously, Kara was an Associate Director at the UC Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment Research Center, where she collaborated with policy makers to develop statewide learning standards and assessments.
Kara has consulted with and taught at dozens of organizations with focus on leadership, education, youth-development, equity and inclusion, community engagement, and entrepreneurship. Her clients include Google, UN Women/EQUALS, SkyDeck Accelerator, the STEM Next Opportunity Fund, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.
Kara received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in Social & Cultural Studies and Statistics. She began her own leadership journey as an instructor at Voyageur and Hurricane Island Outward Bound Schools.
Miguel provides analysis, recruitment outreach, and interview and meeting facilitation as a consultant for Potrero Group.
Miguel is a coach, trainer, facilitator, and consultant serving nonprofit organizations, philanthropic institutions, schools, and government agencies. With a passion for merging the principles of organizational development and personal transformation, he strives to build confidence, energize teams, and develop meaningful planning processes. His clients have included Amnesty International USA, California Immigrant Policy Center, Earthjustice, Latino Outdoors, PICO California, Sierra Health Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, The California Endowment, UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program, and University of New Mexico College of Nursing. As a volunteer, he serves as the Chair of the Buck Family Fund at the Marin Community Foundation. In his “previous life,” he has served as an executive director and development director for several organizations. He has over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, a journey that began as a mentor for youth and children. Miguel is based in Castro Valley, CA.
Ireri Valenzuela is a consultant for Potrero Group. For over 17 years, Ireri's work has supported equity-centered structural reform efforts in California Community Colleges. Highlights of her experience include systems change, evidence-based decision-making, leadership, and team development, building trust and credibility with people across different roles and socioeconomic statuses. Furthermore, she is an expert in creating and tailoring curriculum, training, and written materials for diverse audiences, designing, implementing, evaluating, and managing complex programs and projects. Ireri's commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice is central to who she is and is the lens through which she approaches her work.
Since 2014, Ireri has worked for the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges. As a Senior Researcher, Ireri conducts qualitative research to elevate the voices and needs of diverse student populations, and identify and advance promising practices in instruction and support services. Ireri is also the Leading from the Middle Academy director, a change-focused leadership development program that equips middle leaders from California Community Colleges with skills and strategies to "lead from the middle." Ireri guides community college practitioners in transformational efforts focused on moving community colleges into equity-and-student-centered institutions, where all students can succeed. She does this by creatively blending her passion for organizational change, team coaching, qualitative research, adult education, and program design.
Ireri is bilingual in Spanish/English. She earned a bachelor's degree in Sociology and a master's degree in Adult Education from San Francisco State University. Ireri is also a certified team performance coach from Team Coaching International. Ireri grew up in Mexico City and San Francisco, California.
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.
Rhia Bordon is an Associate Consultant with Potrero Group. She previously worked as an environmental planner for the San Francisco Planning Department, where she managed data collection and analysis for numerous high-level reports, planned and implemented process improvements, and developed materials for departmental diversity initiatives. She also has several years of experience in the private and nonprofit sectors, with previous roles as a community garden Director and coordinator for Prison Fellowship.
She completed her bachelor's in Environmental Science and Management at UC Davis and is currently pursuing a dual-degree Masters in Public Administration and Public Policy with Syracuse University in New York and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, where she was awarded PAIA Exceptional Scholar. She draws on her diverse education and experiences, and passions for sustainability and equitable inclusion, to deliver thorough research and insightful analysis to support mission-driven organizations in pursuing strategic growth. When she's not studying or working on exciting projects with Potrero Group, she enjoys tasting diverse cuisines and exploring unique areas of Berlin.
The Potrero Group Advisory Council is a group of industry-leading professionals providing guidance, expertise, and opportunity to enhance the quality and impact of the work we provide.
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.
In 2015, the California Parks Forward Commission recommended creating a new nonprofit organization to support California parks statewide. Potrero Group was engaged by Resources Legacy Fund to complete a feasibility study and subsequent business plan for the proposed organization. The first phase assessed statewide need and clarified the proposed organization's mission scope, partnership approach, and structural considerations. The business planning phase evaluated operations and revenue scenarios and helped decision-makers and funders select a desired business approach and scale of operations.
Potrero Group’s feasibility study confirmed the California Parks Forward Commission recommendation that a new organization was needed to bring added resources, expertise, and flexibility in support of a visionary, world-class park system in California. Potrero Group’s business plan proposed a model that will synthesize a strong project and program approach with an effective platform for philanthropic, public, and project-related funding. Initially, it will rely heavily on philanthropy and funds from projects and will build credibility and momentum by demonstrating success. In order to succeed, the organization will need a strong partnership culture, clarity of purpose, and engaged and effective board members and staff.
The new organization, Parks California, will fill an important role by assisting the California Department of Parks and Recreation with pressing systemwide priorities. It will also help to amplify the vision and values of California’s parks to a broader community, anchor the system as political administrations and priorities change, and welcome new supporters and constituencies. Parks California will help to grow overall support for parks rather than cut into existing resources, and expand the role parks can play in the lives of Californians and visitors.
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.