We take pride in helping our clients think big. We work hard not to be constrained or detracted by current realities. The joy of thinking big with a learning mindset sustains us and our clients through important hours of idea generation, iteration, and detailed planning to find the best possible path forward. But when the big thinking is done, we are equally focused on the critical details of implementation. During this phase, clients find us cheerful, pro-active and dedicated to ongoing, clear and authentic communication.
Andrew Smiles is the founder of StepChange Partners, a strategy firm dedicated to helping passionate people with big ideas to change the world. Andrew works with philanthropists and social entrepreneurs to develop new avenues for social impact through facilitated program design. He is currently leading Zephyr Impact, a collaborative philanthropy 501 (c) 3, and the Holistic Youth Development Fund.
Andrew served nine years as a Program Officer and Portfolio Manager with the US Program team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. There he focused on developing networks of teachers and agencies providing next-generation tools for K-12 educators. Previously, as Program Officer Andrew directed investments in small school designs and school-district change management strategies.
Before Gates, Andrew served as Chief Strategy Officer at VolunteerMatch.org where he was a founding team member and helped grow VolunteerMatch from start-up to a sustainable non-profit enterprise serving more than 150,000 nonprofits. A former high-school teacher and youth development leader, Andrew is a proud Denver Kids mentor. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Brown University and his Master’s in Public Policy from the Goldman School at the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Denver, CO where his three children attend Denver Public Schools.
As StepChange's managing director, Mike Smiles (Andrew Smiles's older brother) works to connect ambitious and innovative changemakers with StepChange services to guide them in moving from idea to impact. Mike serves as a trusted partner to philanthropists, impact investors, and social entrepreneurs of all kinds and is passionate about collaborating closely to bring their charitable initiatives and programs to life.
Mike has extensive experience working with various organizations in New England and nationally to help advance social impact and strengthen the practice and effectiveness of philanthropy. A former Chief Advancement Officer for Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and the international Serious Fun Children's Network, Mike spent the first half of his career raising over $80 million for nonprofits that provide innovative education programming and social services for communities in need.
Most recently Mike advised the Raikes Foundation's Impact Driven Philanthropy non-profit, Giving Compass, in launching its technology platfrom strategy to the wealth management and foundation ecosystems. Other StepChange client work included assignment as Chief Advancement Officer to the successful $10 million VolunteerMatch 2020 Campaign and launching the Coalition for Volunteer Impact, an international data collaborative of VolunteerMatch.
As a volunteer, Mike serves physically and mentally disabled athletes with Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, and previously as President of the Board of Directors of the ISAAC Charter School in New London, Connecticut.
Mike completed his MBA at the University of New Haven and his BA from Beloit College where he was named the inaugural recipient of the Warren Miller Blue Skies Award.
Shyla Banar brings a varied range of skills in non-profit research, evaluation, and methodology to the StepChange team. Shyla plays a critical role in helping to design the future work of the Zephyr Impact collaborative philanthropy initiative and adapting the current portfolio of work to optimize impact. Zephyr's programmatic work is organized into successive stages of refinement inclusive of search, grantee development, and impact execution.
Previously, she was in Peace Corps Zambia working as a Rural Education Development Volunteer in primary schools in rural villages. She earned her BA in Anthropology & Sociology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and earned her MA in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.