Bill Meehan

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Bill Meehan

Lecturer in Strategic Management

Raccoon Partners Lecturer in Strategic Management 2021–2022


William F. Meehan III is the Raccoon Partners Lecturer in Strategic Management at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Senior Partner Emeritus of McKinsey & Company.

As a faculty member of the Center for Social Innovation and Public Management Program, he has taught the popular course “Strategic Leadership of Nonprofit Organizations and Social Ventures” for 20 years; developed a pioneering course, “Private Equity in Frontier Markets; ” and continues to teach Managing Difficult Conversations” and Social Ventures Practicum.” As a Faculty Director, he helped launch the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED). Earlier, was instrumental in creating the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford GSB.

In addition, at Stanford, he has advised the Stanford Board of Trustees and President on strategy and governance. He is currently a founding member and vice-chair of the Natural Capital Advisory Council; a Special Advisor to the Stanford Initiative in Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI); and a Special Advisor to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars. Previously he was a founding member of the Advisory Council to the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACs) and the Arts Advisory Council.

In 2014, he received the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

His recent book, co-authored with Kim Starkey Jonker, Engine of Impact: Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector,, is a bestseller in its field. Previously, Jonker and Meehan have published a range of articles on non-profits and philanthropy in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and are currently columnists for

Previously, he was a Board Member and Special Advisor to King Philanthropies; and a Board Member of GiveDirectly, which is pioneering the use of digital cash transfers to alleviate extreme poverty. He is also a Life Governor of the San Francisco Symphony; Chair Emeritus of Guidestar; a member of the North American Council of Ashoka, and a member of Positive Coaching Alliance’s National Advisory Board. He has also advised, pro bono, innumerable nonprofit leaders, Boards, and organizations.

Previously, he was Chair of the United Way of the Bay Area, a member of the Board of Fordham Prep, the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy (STEP) and the California Roundtable. He was also a member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Endowment Board and, earlier, its Board.

Mr. Meehan retired in December 2008 after over 30 years at McKinsey & Company where his focus was working with chief executives on strategy, organization and leadership, including mentoring many new CEOs in shaping their leadership agendas. In addition to his service to clients, he held many leadership roles with the Firm. As a member of the Shareholders Council, McKinsey’s Board, he was Chair of the Client Committee and Chair of the McKinsey Investment Office, which oversees more than $8 billion in investments. He was also Vice-Chair of the Senior Partners Review Committee, founder and leader of the Private Equity Practice; Chair of the West Coast Practice, and Managing Director of the San Francisco Office.

He is a former Director of Juniper Networks and Westward Leaning and currently a Director of Big Switch.

Academic Degrees

  • MBA, Stanford University, 1978
  • BA, Columbia University

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1998

Professional Experience

  • Director, McKinsey & Company, Inc., 1978–2008

Awards and Honors

  • Raccoon Partners Lecturer in Strategic Management 2019–2020
  • Lafayette Partners Lecturer, 2013–present


Journal Articles


Stanford Case Studies

Conferences, Talks & Speaking Engagements

The experience of prize-winning social sector leaders highlights the enduring lessons of nonprofit management. Part one of a six-part series.

To thrive, a nonprofit organization must develop—and adhere to—a clear statement of its core purpose.

Overcoming a reluctance to ask people for money is a crucial step that every nonprofit leader must make.

High-performing nonprofits benefit from having a board of directors that functions as more than a rubber stamp.

One test of a nonprofit organization hinges on whether it can manage a difficult leadership transition.

A commitment to impact evaluation is the mark of a nonprofit organization that takes its work seriously.

Stanford GSB Affiliations

Stanford University Affiliations

Service to the Profession

Board Member

  • GiveDirectly
  • San Francisco Symphony
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival Endowment
  • Chairman, United Way of the Bay Area
  • Philanthropic Research Inc
  • California Business Roundtable
  • Fordham Preparatory School
  • California Business Roundtable
  • Fordham Preparatory School
  • National Academy of Sciences' Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy (STEP)
  • GuideStar
  • Chair, United Way of the Bay Area
  • Big Switch
  • Westward Leaning
  • Formerly, Juniper Networks

Advisory Roles

  • Equal Opportunity Schools
  • Embrace
  • Chairman Emeritus, Guidestar
  • North American Council of Ashoka
  • Positive Coaching Alliances's National Advisory board

In the Media

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