American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)

ACLS' mission is "the advancement of humanistic studies in all fields of learning in the humanities and the social sciences and the maintenance and strengthening of relations among the national societies devoted to such studies." Its main strategy for achieving this mission is to grant fellowships to scholars of the humanities. The organization has grown substantially over the last 15 years through major increases in fundraising and huge increases in productivity: the staff of ACLS was 25 in 2003 and 27 at the beginning of 2018. The Council is in a strong financial position and is able to create new staff positions so that it can embark on the next phase of its growth. Its Vice President was due to depart in July 2018 and the President will leave a year later. 

ACLS therefore commissioned Brewster to assess the staff in the context of these changes, make recommendations on which positions should be created and why and on other relevant aspects of the organization. Building on a model of organizations in which staffing and structure interact dynamically with an organization's systems and processes, including how it makes decisions and solves problems, and with its internal communications, management practices, leadership styles and culture, Brewster undertook an assessment of how ACLS functioned along all these dimensions. He interviewed every member of staff and reviewed critical documents, for example, job descriptions, organizational charts and plans. He then produced a comprehensive Organizational Development report, in which he recommended critical changes in: staffing, including an HR Officer/Manager; the allocation of work between positions; internal communications; and professional development. He also proposed the creation of a temporary senior managers' team to ensure continuity through the leadership transitions. These recommendations have formed an important basis for a successful transition to a new VP and ACLS are in the process of making several new appointments, beginning with the HR manager (as of July 17.)