Sarah Smith Orr


Extended Biography

Sarah Smith Orr, EMBA, is the owner/principal in a management and planning consulting firm, Smith Orr & Associates. During her 18 years as a consultant and business owner, her major clients have been a municipality; mid-sized and large not-for-profit and academic institutions, located primarily in the greater Los Angeles area.
Sarah is an adjunct professor at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management teaching courses on the Nonprofit Leader. And she is currently completing a doctorate of philosophy in education degree at Claremont Graduate University. She and colleague, Ron Riggio, Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute coedited and published Improving Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations (Jossey-Bass, 2003), a text that includes a chapter she authored on “Soul-Based Leadership.”
Areas of specialty for her consulting work range from strategic planning, organizational and functional assessments, and executive coaching for top management and boards, to providing interim CEO/President/ExecutiveDirector leadership for organizations in transition. She also provides coaching/training for organizational leaders and individuals moving through transitions. As an interim CEO she has served from 10 months to one year, providing leadership to the staff and board, stabilizing the organization and positioning it for the future—transitioning to new professional leadership. She is also a certified trainer with the Achieving Styles Institute.
In late 1991, through a deep interest in the role of leaders and a commitment to support the advancement of women, Orr became the founding Executive Director of Leadership California for its first four years of operation. Leadership California provides an educational program, focused upon statewide issues, for high-level, high achieving women leaders in the state.
Orr is a senior coach and a former trainer with The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, an organization specializing in designing coaching and training programs for adult and organizational transitions. Prior to forming her own business, she had a 16 year career as a chief executive officer (in Midland, Texas and Reading, Pennsylvania) and top executive (Vice President, Los Angeles) in the United Way system, locally and nationally.

Through the United Way system she also served, for seven years, as a faculty member for the National Academy for Voluntarism, in the areas of management and fund development. She and her Reading Pennsylvania staff were featured in a nationally distributed training film, “United Way at the Workplace,” an innovative workplace based program within the United Way. During her career in the United Way system, she was responsible for raising over $50 million.
Involvement in a variety of community organizations and leadership positions is a key element of Orr’s life. Current Board/Community Service include: Founding member, Board of Advisors of The Kravis Leadership Institute, which is affiliated with Claremont McKenna College; A member of the Board of Scholars for the Vail Leadership Institute; Immediate past President of the Fort Marcy Condominium Association Board of Directors, which manages properties located in Santa Fe New Mexico; Advisory Board member for Fiesta Floats, a float building company based in Duarte; Board member and program chair of the Western Justice Center Foundation; Founding Chair and past Board member, Leadership Pasadena; Member of the Rotary Club of Pasadena and board member of the Pasadena Rotary Foundation; Member of the Caltech Executive Forum; a Sustaining member of the Junior League of Pasadena; a Donor Circle member of the Women's Foundation of California; and a board member of the National Women's Hall of Fame..
Through Orr’s community work she has received a number of awards including the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award, the YWCA’s Trendsetter/Woman of the Year Award, Leadership California’s Leader Award and a commendation from the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors for exemplary leadership in the not-for-profit community.
Husband/life partner Verne, sons and family (his and hers), friends, community, spiritual growth, fitness, life-long learning and outdoor activities are key personal interest areas. She loves skiing, power walking especially with her dog and buddy Addy, gardening and gourmet cooking.

2016 Claremont Graduate University 1021 North Dartmouth Ave., Claremont, CA 91711 (909) 607-7811