I still recall my first conversation with Ned, when I was the Volunteer Services Director at Jobs for Youth Chicago, and Ned came onboard as a volunteer writing coach for our students who were working toward the GED. Ned impressed me immediately as a highly engaged, inquisitive and articulate person. As he began serving as a volunteer, it became clear that he was also a talented writer and writing teacher. He was such a hit with the students and our team that Jobs for Youth soon hired him as a paid instructor. During his time in that role, he helped many students achieve their high school equivalency and move on to our job training program.

Through the years, Ned and I have remained colleagues and friends, and I’ve witnessed him become an accomplished professional and leader. His talents as a speaker, writer, and inquisitive strategist, and his endearing personality have made it possible for him to serve some of the nation’s leading organizations and movements, and to become a trusted advisor to executives from coast to coast. Major foundation leaders, healthcare innovators, and community change agents have sought Ned out for his communications and strategy expertise, and he played key roles in helping them articulate and achieve the success they envisioned.

Throughout my own career, Ned has been an invaluable sounding board, particularly as I’ve considered how to craft key messages, present complicated ideas, and win support for important initiatives.