Nonprofit Board Development, Strategic Planning, and Board Retreat Facilitation:

“Please let me thank you for your role in Local First Bloomington’s very successful retreat last month. This is the second retreat that you have facilitated for our board and we have come away from both invigorated, energized and with agendas that gave us confidence we were moving forward in the right direction. Yes, the ideas were ours but your guidance helped us bring forth and organize our thoughts, feelings and opinions. I was happy to meet with you before the event to plot a strategy so that I could ensure that all board members would arrive at the retreat prepared and ready to work. Your approach to retreat facilitation offers just the right combination of both professionalism and friendliness. The professionalism provided us with direction and kept us on track, while the friendliness provided an atmosphere that helped us bond as team members. I speak for all LFB board members in saying that we are happy to recommend you to any other groups wishing to engage a facilitator.” Benjamin Schultz, Board Chair

“Michael Shermis led an intense two hour session to help us create a vision statement for our agency. There was full participation by board and staff members who attended and we were able to come up with a powerful statement that describes our dream or vision as a result of our services to our community. Michael’s leadership picked up the pace for us when we bogged down a bit and helped us to formulate our thoughts into one cohesive statement that met our criteria and appealed to each of us. He facilitated this process through coaching and encouragement sprinkled with humor and challenge. It was an engaging process.” Meri Reinhold, Executive Director

“I was rather dubious about the whole idea of a retreat, and skeptical about how it was organized, but I think it went MAGNIFICENTLY and achieved far more than I had imagined possible. We came together as a cohesive group in a way we had never done before, and, in addition, accomplished more than the goals we had set out. It was a great success!” Laurel Cornell, President, Friends of Art

“It was an incredible gift to have Michael Shermis in the role of facilitator through the Bloomington Food Policy Council’s strategic planning process. He helped us turn our ideas and passions into concrete goals, and steered us in the direction of becoming an organization with a deep community impact.” Stephanie Solomon, Steering Committee Coordinator

“Working with Michael Shermis was one of the best developmental decisions that the Board of Directors of the Bloomington Community Orchard has made. Michael’s seasoned expertise and facilitation skills created a space for our Board members to fully participate in a major organizational process effectively and efficiently. On top of that, it was even fun! His balance between neutrality and wisdom garnered from past experiences is simultaneously inclusive and inspiring; his commitment to an organization’s success is remarkable.” Amy Countryman, Finance Chair, Community Orchard

“Michael’s wonderful ability to listen (even to members who are steeped in a long and rich history with the League of Women Voters) allowed us in our Board Workshop to: 1) Stay on track; 2) work within our time limits; 3) take us out of our traditional board (bored?) ‘quagmire’ box; 4) energize ourselves so that we can tackle a new idea for the recruitment of members; 5) actually share some honest laughter; and 6) realize that, yes, our League can help our community’s efforts to reach non-partisan goals with rational thinking.” Ann Wrenn, President, and Liz Feitl, Chair, Voter Services, League of Women Voters Bloomington-Monroe County

“Your experience and insight have provided the road map we needed. At the beginning the tasks seemed daunting; however, your patience and step-by-step approach provided us with a doable action list that has made this process very rewarding. The contributions you have made to Pets Alive to secure our future are immeasurable. While much work remains to be done, I know that with your continued guidance we will carry forward on this road of progress.” Karla Kamstra, Chair, Pets Alive

“Michael Shermis has been invaluable to Giving Back to Africa. As a small NGO we face recurring issues with fund development. Michael has been able to guide us through a structural process that has defined a clear path for GBA. He is able to work with all personality types and get the organization to optimize its resources. We appreciate Michael very much.” Louis J Calli, Jr. MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Indiana University, President, Giving Back to Africa

“I am very pleased that Barry Lessow, Executive Director of the United Way of Monroe Country, referred us to Story Insights. I was very impressed how you handled the Board Retreat for NewLeaf-NewLife. You provided all of our Board members the opportunity to express their views, while at the same time herding us cats progressively deeper into the agenda. I was particularly pleased how you pushed back in response to some of the Board members to help keep good ideas alive. Thank you for providing a highly stimulating and productive day!” Vid Beldavs, Board Member, Co-founder, New Leaf-New Life.

“I asked Michael to lead us in our development of a strategic plan because I knew he would keep us on task, be inclusive of all participants, encourage us to educate each other on our roles, provide a safe atmosphere in which to brainstorm and work, and keep it fun. We had a wonderfully productive session!” Sheri Benham, Executive Director, Stepping Stones

Collaborative Story Development:
“Michael has led us through a lengthy creative storytelling learning project and was extremely easy to work with. He nicely pushed back when needed (and when we needed to learn something) and was open to accomplishing our goals in more than one way. Not once did he miss a deadline or fail to produce, with creative advice and spot-on solutions. We have been very pleased with the caliber of his creative and production work and his extreme commitment to our mission.” Charlotte Donaldson, Senior Learning Strategist, Booz Allen Hamilton

“Michael Shermis provides a process that creates positive results and highly workable objectives. He has the extraordinary ability to combine amazing active listening skills with intelligent creativity to provide a wonderfully productive working partnership. Working with Michael is like throwing all the rough edges of the business into the air and helping him catch the ones worth saving and putting them back together again to create a brighter, more focused picture.” David Lawler

“Simply put Michael is the most creative, energetic and positive person I know. He is an incredibly organized and efficient manager but also flexible, resourceful and inspiring in the way he can find imaginative solutions to challenging problems. It was always a joy to work for and with him and I would jump at the chance to do so again in the future. I can’t recommend both him and his work highly enough. If you have the chance to get him involved in one of your projects in any capacity, you will see for yourself the incredible energy, drive and most importantly PASSION that he brings to all he does!” Alyssa Wise, Senior Instructional Designer (Consultant), WisdomTools

Design Facilitation:
“In his work at WisdomTools, Michael spearheaded a project to take my first book, The Radical Leap, and transform it into an interactive, online experience. No small task, to be sure, and he and his team did an extraordinary job. But what impressed me most about him was his expertise in facilitating the collaborative creative process involving me, my publisher, and a mix of several creative design and IT people. For most people, that’s a massive undertaking, but Michael had the perfect blend of focus, knowledge, humor and inventiveness to navigate us through what could have been a messy process. The outcome was superb. I’m a professional facilitator by background, so I have VERY high standards and expectations in what I look for in a facilitator, and Michael exceeded them all.”
Steve Farber, Developer of and Advocate for Extreme Leaders at Work and Beyond

“I worked with Michael for nearly three years at WisdomTools, where he led teams of clients though a uniquely interesting journey to develop Scenarios, WisdomTools’ storybased learning courses. Michael takes a process, which might otherwise be tedious and demanding in a conventional learning setting, and transforms the room into a creative flow of ideas amongst WisdomTools and company executives. The end-result is a captivating and compelling online story inside of which real learning takes place. I cannot say enough about Michael’s unique set of talents, including his professionalism, his creativity, his ability to draw out “golden nuggets” and turn them into an interesting personal story, his leadership skills and his charming personality. He was a hit with all of my clients!” Eileen Smouha, Senior Account Executive, WisdomTools

Work Ethic:
“I have had the pleasure of working with Michael Shermis for eight years now. Michael has run our company’s Client Services division and manages the majority of the company’s employees. He has been a tremendous partner to me, seeing the company through good times and bad, and constantly creating opportunities for us. Michael trains our staff to deliver “client delight,” and there is no question that this quality of his (and his teams) sustained the company and lead directly to our growth. He can juggle vast amounts of detail, but he is also able to stay focused on the big picture. Finally, Michael just cares about our people and our mission, and that makes all the difference.” Craig Wortmann, President & CEO, WisdomTools, Inc.

“I’ve worked with many people over the years, but I’ve never worked with a more energetic, hard-working, and dedicated person than Michael. And EVERYONE says this about him! Bright, collaborative, loyal, community-minded, enthusiastic, focused, fun, service-oriented — these are the words that describe Michael Shermis. Did I mention class act? It will always be a pleasure to be associated with this man; he began as a colleague at WisdomTools; he’s now a life-long friend.” Marty Siegel, Founder and Chief Learning Officer, WisdomTools, Inc

“I have worked with Michael for since the early days at WisdomTools (over eight years), and he has always amazed me with his energy, passion, and ability to juggle a zillion things at once. His dedication to the company and to his work has long been an inspiration to me. Plus he has a great sense of humor, and is a overall a pleasure to work with!” Brian Bothwell, VP, Systems and Development, WisdomTools

Project Management/Software Development:
“I employed Michael Shermis as a project manager for a new software application—the During the Deployment journal. During 2006 he managed every aspect of the development and delivery of this new product. I went to him with just a very rough description of my vision for this product. Michael took my concepts and quickly delivered a demonstration version of the software that I in turn used as part of a briefing after just a few weeks of work. From these early stages of the project, Michael moved quickly to the refinement of an amazing product. He delivered with amazing speed, almost unbelievable accuracy and within his estimate of the budget. He comes with my highest recommendation. Since this project he has developed two other applications for me. Michael is a highly intelligent and motivated individual. He is more than capable of managing a high-pressure project. As product developer, he has recruited a great team. I envisioned that the journal application that Michael developed for me would have certain required features. Michael ensured that these features were included. He developed a vision for the progress of the project and it was easy to collaborate with him. He is an expert at taking the words and ideas of a layman and converting them to technical guidance. It was a pleasure to work almost daily with him. While keeping the project on schedule Michael kept me informed of risks, options, and possible outcomes. He quickly demonstrated the attributes of hard work and resourcefulness that made me comfortable to give him my complete trust in the future success of our endeavor.” Ed Ackerman, Chief Operations Officers, Vice President, Solution Tree

Software Development:
“I have worked with Michael on many very high-level and challenging projects over the past 8 years. He brings such a wide range of valuable skills to the table that it would be difficult to list them all and I’m not even sure he is aware of all of them himself. To say he can multi-task would be an understatement as he served many different roles ranging from project manager to technical writer to story developer for almost every project I have had the pleasure of working on with him. He is high energy, highly motivated, sincere and just an all around great guy! I will continue to work with Michael well into the future!” Joshua Moline, Consultant – Lead Developer, WisdomTools

“Michael is the best editor I’ve ever worked with: his assignments were clear and well-considered, as was his editing. He negotiated excellent fees for his regular writers. He was highly valued by everyone who worked with him for his professionalism, intelligence, and good humor. I miss the opportunity to work with him as closely as we did while he was editing the Research & Creative Activity magazine.” Luci McKean, Writer/Creative Director, Englert Marketing Communications