Consulting Associate

Risa McDonell joined Art & Science Group in 1999, serving several years as a Managing Associate and then, after a hiatus to start her family, rejoining the firm as a Consulting Associate focused primarily on project management. She loves building strong partnerships with clients, connecting the unique nuance of individual mission with the larger strategic questions that drive institutional strategy.

Risa has managed large strategic positioning studies, covering enrollment, alumni relations, development, pricing and strategic branding, as well as benchmarking, communications and development studies. She has also participated in strategic board retreats and planning sessions. She has worked with clients ranging from small private colleges to large research universities, as well as graduate schools and mission-specific institutions such as women’s colleges and religiously affiliated institutions, including Smith College, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Pace University, Simmons College, Macalester College, University of Miami and Valparaiso University, among others.

Prior to joining Art & Science Group, Risa managed the research and operations for the Tennessee Governor’s Council on Excellence in Higher Education, a blue-ribbon panel appointed to study public postsecondary education in Tennessee and issue policy recommendations regarding the system’s performance. Earlier experiences include teaching English at Vanderbilt University, and several years in corporate human resources management.


  • B.A. English Literature, Duke University
  • M.A. English, Vanderbilt University
  • Ph.D. English, Vanderbilt University