Stroke Onward

Portola Valley, CA
Fall-Winter 2021
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Market Analysis,
Mission, Vision & Values
Organization Type


Stroke Onward’s mission is to help stroke survivors, families and care partners navigate the emotional journey to rebuild identities and rewarding livesStroke Onward has three primary programmatic areas: creating awareness for the importance of the emotional journey in recovery; creating and sharing resources that support survivors and families in this process; and influencing the caregiving system to embrace this important aspect of stroke recovery more fully.

Stroke Onward was founded in early 2019 by Debra Meyerson, Stanford professor and GSB PhD ’89, and her husband Steve Zuckerman, MBA ’87 upon the publication of Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves after Stroke. Debra, the primary author of Identity Theft, suffered a severe stroke in 2010. After three years of nearly full-time therapy, ongoing disabilities forced her to give up her faculty position. Debra began a five-year writing journey that helped her explore and rebuild her own identity as a stroke survivor. She interviewed more than 55 survivors/family members and published a book that is proving to be a critical resource for others by addressing the often-overlooked emotional journey that is critical to recovery. 


How can this start-up nonprofit determine the best path forward to increasing its impact by delivering additional programs to help stroke survivors rebuild rewarding lives?


Stroke Onward has had great success in its first two years; its message resonating loudly in the communities it serves.  It is reaching thousands of people through (mostly Zoom) presentations, support group facilitation and appearances, and significant writing, including a bimonthly column for the American Stroke Association. Stroke Onward has developed several programs that have been well received —  most notably a book group discussion guide for survivors to better access Identity Theft, and early work to embed the book and/or its material into the degree granting training programs for the next generation of professional caregivers. 


And now, as it looks toward making important strategic decisions about programmatic focus and building a more significant organization to deliver greater impact, Stroke Onward is eager to do so in a thoughtful and rigorous way. The principals are clear on the organization’s mission and the long-term impact they hope to achieve, but they’re not clear on the programmatic vision that will be most effective in achieving their goals.

Project Overview

An ACT project team will work with Stroke Onward staff and board (including several GSB alumni) on a two-phase project that will help the organization prepare for a follow-on strategic planning project.


Phase 1 – Develop a framework for evaluating various potential programmatic visions for Stroke Onward

  • Help Stroke Onward organize its thinking around the options/questions it’s already developed, those that become quickly evident to the ACT project team, and additional options developed collaboratively between Stroke Onward and ACT
  • Develop a workplan for research that will help inform its ultimate programmatic vision

Phase 2 - Conduct market research to gather information for evaluating program ideas

  • Identify aspects of the caregiving landscape that will help Stroke Onward identify gaps and/or allies
  • Learn more about the market opportunities for specific programmatic ideas that were identified in Phase 1


This is a Full Team project:

  • Scope: High-priority organizational challenge involving strategy or management
  • Team Size: 5-8 consultants, including 1-2 project leaders
  • Project Duration: 6 months
  • Estimated time Contribution: Team member: 3-4 hrs/week, Project leader: 5-6 hrs/week

Read more about the Full Team Project Consultant role and the Project Leader role.