Partners Stephanie Ferguson and Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff formed The Idea Tree Consulting in late 2013 after a combined 20 years of work and research in the environmental movement. Their complementary backgrounds in environmental activism led to a desire to form a consultancy that focused on strategy for environmental non-profits and NGOs, so that existing organizations could achieve more and increase their effectiveness.
Dr. Phelps Bondaroff began studying the history and strategy of the environmental movement at the undergraduate level, which resulted in a thesis focusing on ecotage and the strategy of confrontational environmental groups. He went on to complete a PhD in Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University, focusing his thesis on the strategy of “direct enforcement,” utilizing the anti-whaling campaign of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a case study. His current academic work focuses on the strategic use of international law by non-state actors. You can learn more about his academic work and other projects here.
Ms. Ferguson worked professionally for numerous environmental organizations in areas such as volunteer management, outreach and event organization, in addition to volunteering for several other causes along the way. With an inside perspective into how environmental organizations operate, Ms. Ferguson observed weaknesses in how organizations strategize (or don’t strategize at all), how they can set goals and targets which may not have much influence on the actual issues the organization is concerned with, and the challenges of operating day-to-day with too few staff and limited resources. She realized that while there was a great deal of excellent work happening in the non-profit environmental world, there was lots of room for improvement as well. She is currently on leave from The Idea Tree, whilst completing a masters in environmental education and communications at Royal Roads.
With this complementary background, and a great deal of combined experience, the pair began receiving requests for advice on how to formulate campaigns, set up media events, how to best find funds to support fledgling organizations, as well as speaking requests. In late 2013, they decided to give in to this confluence of factors and form a consultancy to help organizations of all sizes improve their effectiveness, assist them in formulating concrete and achievable goals, and implement smart strategies for achieving those goals.
Learn more about our backgrounds by reading our biographies, or find out more about what we do.