Debra Natenshon

Debra Natenshon

DBN & Associates


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Debra, in partnership with the Urban Institute, published ground-breaking research to develop outcome frameworks and a nonprofit taxonomy of outcomes. With her help, clients successfully bridge strategy with evidence-based research and program design.

Debra founded DBN & Associates, L3C, as a social purpose consultancy. She focuses on expanding current sector-building efforts to define social change based on client results, rather than on well-intentioned programs and activities. For ten years prior to founding DBN, Debra was CEO for The Center for What Works, a national nonprofit organization focused on outcome management research, training and consulting.

Debra makes essential connections between strategy and learning, leading to improved client results, continuous program improvement, and ultimately, to increased external funding. She presents highly regarded keynotes and workshops for nonprofits and funders, including social impact summits and state/regional association conferences.

Debra is credited with key inputs into numerous products and publications for leading organizations including: the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Charity Navigator, GuideStar, FSG Social Impact Advisors, McKinsey and Company, and the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.

In 2004, Debra founded the Chicago professional chapter of Net Impact, a global network of leaders changing the world through business. Under her leadership, the Chicago chapter was awarded Professional Chapter of the Year for 2007. Debra served for several years on Net Impact’s national membership committee to determine global strategy, and she continues to mentor emerging leaders.

Prior to her social sector roles, Debra worked in the private sector for IOR Global Services, a cross-cultural training and consulting firm, where she designed and streamlined business processes for several Fortune 100 corporate clients. She also helped launch a technology company in the late 90s, where she successfully implemented their first corporate client in over 20 countries.

Debra holds a Masters degree in Organizational Management from the SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont. She has studied, lived and worked in England, Japan, India, Israel, and Argentina. She integrates her evolving knowledge of the world to learn, leverage and contribute on a daily basis. Debra is based in Chicago and gains balance and joy from her husband and three sons.

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