Looking Ahead: The Future of Free Range

  • Randall Ussery
  • Managing Partner + Strategist, Free Range

Two years ago, Free Range’s founder Jonah Sachs and I partnered to transform the organization from a communications and marketing agency to a broader design and business innovation firm. Since its founding in 1999, Free Range has been fortunate to collaborate with world-changing organizations to tell their story and mobilize millions for good. Many of our early successes continue to shape the conversation about how we can build a more sustainable and just future.

That journey has moved us from projects like The Story of Stuff to Jonah’s book, Winning the Story Wars, with clients across industries ranging from education to the environment to conscious capitalism.

An organization has to do more than tell a good story, though. It has to live it. This requires smart strategies to navigate the complexities of a constantly changing business and non-profit landscape. Our clients wanted to keep innovating and growing – to find new ways of scaling the good work they were doing in the world. So, we grew with them. We shifted as an organization and brought in new team members from diverse disciplines, sectors and industries – educators, technologists, economists, designers, and business minds – to solve a different set of problems for our clients.

Today, Free Range sits at the intersection of design and business innovation. We’re still committed to delivering world-class creative to our clients. In parallel, we work with them to define challenges and opportunities, develop new strategies for the road ahead, and bring the right mix of business and creative tactics to the table to drive scalable, sustainable growth.

We’re also leading efforts to make an impact in entire regions, working with communities in places like Humboldt County, California and Williamson, West Virginia to establish more innovative and equitable regional economies. Working with stakeholders, investors, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and local leaders, we’re bringing our focus on strategy and story to the table to fuel business innovation in rural America. Our goal is to grow economically diverse and resilient communities while shaping the way we think about how to invest capital, time, and talent in these communities.

You can learn more about our work and that of our partners through our recently-launched interview series called THRIVE, a partnership with Babson College and Leiden University. We also have an ongoing series in Fast Company called “Less of the Same.” Finally, we’re excited to announce Jonah has another book due out later this fall called Unsafe Thinking which focuses on how organizations can break through the habits of thought that stymie true business innovation.

As the work of Free Range continues to expand and evolve – and many of our initiatives demand more of Jonah’s and my time – we believe that the organization is ready for its next phase in the hands of a new leadership team. At the beginning of this month, we announced internally that a team of passionate and talented leaders would steward our 18-year history and continue our evolution as a business innovation consultancy.

Effective August 1st, Austin Dannhaus has taken over as CEO of Free Range. For the last two years, Austin has focused on leading client engagements as Director of Strategy as well as expanding our work in the education sector. His passion for Free Range’s mission and talent for shaping business innovation initiatives on behalf of clients are a great fit for this next phase of our organization.

He is joined by a senior leadership team that spans the core functions of our business.

Caleb Bushner will lead as Chief Strategy Officer. In this role, Caleb will continue his track record of enabling clients to successfully design and execute significant change initiatives at the intersection of design and business innovation.

Elizabeth Cameron is our new VP of Client Engagement, bringing an unparalleled level of process insight to ensure our work is meeting the strategic needs of our clients.

Naoto De Silva is our new VP of Finance and Operations, where his excellent organizational leadership and industry expertise will continue to fuel our growth.

Finally, we’re also pleased to announce that Paul Hammond has joined Free Range as the Director of Digital and will continue to grow our web and product development capacities.

Jonah and I will remain actively involved in the organization as strategic advisors on projects, as well as leading workshops and the larger community development initiatives. That said, we think it’s time to pass on the leadership of the organization to a team that is ready to build on the great foundation of Free Range to make it an even better partner to our clients and a great place to work for our team.

I couldn’t be more thrilled of what is to come and continue to look forward to the great work our organizations can do together. Thanks so much for letting us share in our work together and having trust in our team. We are grateful for the work we wake up to every morning: helping organizations like yours have a positive impact on the world.

Managing Partner + Strategist