James Hess

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Office  971 544-7470

Mobile 215 870-3429


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James Hess, Ph.D., Partner

Jim Hess is a founding partner of Opus Partners, leading engagements in the Health Care, Not-for-Profit, and Higher Education practices. Over a 30-year career in executive recruitment, he has conducted more than 500 searches in general management, finance, marketing, information technology, human resources, risk management, and investment management on behalf of a wide range of clients. Healthcare clients include Boston Children's Hospital, University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, Rainbow Babies, Partners Healthcare, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, andThe University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Higher education clients include Stanford University, Harvard University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington, and Caltech.

Jim grew up outside of Philadelphia and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University. He then completed his Master's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Pennsylvania. Before co-founding Opus, Jim was Director of International Operations for Penna Consulting, Plc, a London-headquartered, publicly traded human capital management consultancy. He managed Penna's offices in Paris, Milan, Munich, Stockholm, Oslo, and Dublin. Previously, he served for more than 15 years as a Managing Director of Diversified Search, where he built the higher-education practice and served as a member of the healthcare practice. He began his career as Director of Alumni Career Services at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  He serves as Chairman of Opus’ sister recruitment firm, Cadence Partners, based in London.  Since 2011 he has lived in Portland, Oregon where he manages Opus’ west coast office.

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Craig Smith

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Office  215 790-1188 x222

Mobile 215 370-8910

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Craig Smith, Ph.D., Partner

Craig Smith is a founding partner of Opus Partners, where he leads engagements in the Higher Education, Not-for-Profit, and Investment Management practices. His Higher Education assignments cover academic affairs, information technology, finance, facilities management, research administration and technology transfer, and other functions for clients that include Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Stanford University, New York University, and the State University of New York. Within Investment Management, he leads asset management and risk management searches for investment companies, foundations, and university endowments. Clients include Columbia Investment Management Co., LLC, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and Boston University. His not-for-profit clients have included the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the New York Public Library.

Craig grew up in Montreal and London, graduated summa cum laude and with Honors from Brown University, and earned his Master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his Ph.D., he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Montreal. He has also taught at Bard College. He left academia in 1999 to begin a career in the search industry. Before co-founding Opus Partners, he was a Managing Director in the Higher Education practice of Diversified Search, Inc.

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Katie Dean

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Office  215 790-1188 x227
Mobile 215 779-6145 


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Katie Dean, MSW, Associate Partner

Katie Dean, Associate Partner, joined Opus Partners in 2004. Her search work encompasses a variety of roles with education, healthcare, and not-for-profit clients including Harvard University, Yale University, Cornell University, Columbia University, The University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Partners HealthCare, Georgia Tech, Stanford University, MIT, Caltech, Arizona State University, and the University of Washington.

Prior to joining Opus, Katie spent five years with Diversified Search, Inc. as Vice President and Senior Associate in the Higher Education and Not-for-Profit practices and worked extensively with private-sector clients in business development and information technology positions. Katie focused the first 10 years of her career in various clinical and supervisory roles within the social service and mental health community, providing family counseling services as well as individual and group therapy. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from Villanova University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Sarah Gaines

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Office 434 305-1960  
Cell    215 605-2720


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Sarah Gaines, Associate Partner & Certified Diversity Recruiter

Sarah Gaines rejoined Opus Partners in January 2019, having worked as an Associate at the firm from 2007 to 2011. Her work is informed by a career in nonprofit administration, with an emphasis on fundraising and program development for educational, human service, and cultural organizations. Most recently, she was employed by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) in Charlottesville, Virginia where she oversaw fundraising and communications for the organization, consulted for other nonprofits in fundraising, and developed CNE’s leadership transition services. This service line is intended to help nonprofit boards plan for and run an Executive Director search, effectively onboard new leaders, and engage in proactive succession planning.

Sarah graduated Phi Beta Kappa from New York University and earned a masters in nonprofit administration from Rosemont College. She and her family live in Charlottesville, VA, where she is engaged in the nonprofit community and volunteers at her children’s school. In addition, she is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter.

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Jay Scott

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Office  434-951-9080


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Jay Scott, Associate Partner

Jay Scott has over 25 years of experience working with higher education and academic medical centers. Before joining Opus Partners in 2019, he was the founder and President of CBO Partners®, an executive search firm focused on leadership in academic medicine. Jay’s background before founding CBO Partners® in 2007 includes nine years as the Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration at the University of Virginia School of Medicine as well as time serving as Director of the Budget for the University of Virginia, Director of Administration for the Department of Ophthalmology, and Director of Budget and Payroll for the University of Virginia School of Medicine. His early career experience includes entrepreneurship and investment management. He holds a bachelor of arts in economics and a master of business administration, both from the University of Virginia.

Jay has completed additional training in coaching for greater effectiveness at the Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL®). He is also certified by CCL to administer its suite of 360-degree assessment tools. For the 17th consecutive year, CCL has earned a Top-10 ranking in the Financial Times’ worldwide survey of executive education.

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Marisea Rivera

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Office  971 242-8775
Mobile 215 490-4585


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Marisea Rivera, MS, Senior Associate & Certified Diversity Recruiter

Marisea joined the Portland office of Opus Partners in 2015 and works in the firm’s higher education and healthcare practices. Her client work includes searches for City of Hope National Medical Center, University of Miami, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, University of Chicago, and University of Dayton among others. Before joining Opus, she worked as an access consultant in disability services at the University of Arizona. Earlier in her career she worked litigation and jury consulting.

Marisea earned her bachelor’s degree from Reed College and her master’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is enthusiastic about criminal-justice reform and volunteers with a mitigation investigator in Arizona as well as at the Death Row Support Project. In addition, she is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter.

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Jeffrey Stafford

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Office 434-365-3023
Cell    434-996-6836


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Jeffrey Stafford, Senior Associate

Jeff Stafford has been in the higher education executive recruitment industry since 2010, initially working as a Senior Recruiter at the University of Virginia’s Executive Search Group, then with CBO Partners, and now with Opus Partners.  As a Senior Associate, Jeff works on all aspects of the search process including crafting candidate profiles, developing and executing strategic marketing campaigns, consultation with search committees regarding candidate evaluation and assessment, and the overall sourcing, interview, and selection process.

Before beginning his career in executive search, Jeff held various leadership positions at LexisNexis, latterly as Director leading a government law publishing team focused on developing relationships with state and federal government agencies and associations.  Jeff is an U.S. Army veteran and received a Master of Business Administration from James Madison University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo.  Jeff has a daughter who graduated from Virginia Military Institute, and another daughter and a son who recently graduated from the University of Virginia.  He works in Opus’ Charlottesville, VA office.

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Matthew Pohl

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Office  215-790-1188 x232


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Matthew Pohl, MS.Ed, Associate

Matt joined the Philadelphia office of Opus Partners in 2019. After early experience in legal and government fields, he moved into higher education as an admissions officer.  His admissions experience includes position at Sarah Lawrence College, the College of William & Mary, and the University of Pennsylvania in addition to a senior role in an internationally focused K-12 education start-up.

Matt earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at Tufts University and his master’s degree in education entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania.  Originally from the Boston area, he volunteers with various Philadelphia non-profit organizations and can otherwise be found exploring the city’s rich cultural and culinary opportunities.

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Monica Williams, Associate

Monica Williams joined the Portland office of Opus Partners in February 2019.

Monica grew up in Alabama, earned her bachelor’s degree at Colgate University, and spent the early years of her career in the student-affairs function at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, gaining experience in admissions, academic and career advising, program coordination, and programs to improve student retention and graduation.

In addition to her work in higher education, Monica has led business and HR operations for a professional services firm and cultivated relationships with university stakeholders in the edtech space.  In her recent role at AnitaB.org, she worked in program development and logistics for the Grace Hopper Celebration, a 3-day conference supporting women and diversity in technology.

In her free time, you can find Monica exploring Portland, enjoying the outdoor life of the Pacific Northwest, and volunteering in her new community.

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Lara Arlen-Wier

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Office  503-946-1154

Mobile 215-776-0995


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Lara Arlen-Wier, MS, MALS, Senior Associate, Research & Knowledge Management

Lara joined Opus Partners in 2017 as Research Associate. She leads the research efforts by developing search-specific research strategies, and management of Opus Partners’ extensive propitiatory candidate database. Her work reaches across industry sectors with searches in senior administrative and academic roles for institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Davidson College, Princeton University, and Northwestern University.

Prior to Opus, Lara worked for organizations spanning nonprofit sectors including higher education, humanitarian, human services, arts, and performing arts with a specialization in fundraising research and prospect management. Her most recent role was at the Juilliard School with previously held positions at the Pratt Institute and the International Rescue Committee. Lara also taught in the nonprofit management certificate program offered by Portland State University, and consulted on fundraising operations for nonprofits in the Portland area. She served as Programming Chair for APRA-NW and served on the Diversity Committee at the Pratt Institute. Lara holds an undergraduate degree from Scripps College, an MALS from Hollins University, and an MS from the Pratt Institute.

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Christopher Stadler

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Office 503-327-8142


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Christopher Stadler, Research Associate

Chris rejoined Opus Partners in August 2019 as a Research Associate, having previously worked at the firm from 2014 to 2015. Chris supports Opus in candidate identification, evaluation, and due diligence across Opus’s higher education, non-profit, and healthcare practices. His client work includes searches for Columbia University, Cortex Innovation Community, Eisenhower Fellowships, European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the William Penn Foundation.

In between his employment at Opus, Chris worked in programming and grants management for an international non-governmental organization focusing on forced migration and humanitarian assistance in the Middle East. Chris earned his master’s degree from the University of Groningen and his bachelor’s from Cornell College. Chris was also a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Germany from 2012 to 2013.

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Claire Miller

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Office 215 790-1188 x234 


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Claire Miller, Chief Business Officer

Claire Miller joined Opus Partners in 2004 and is responsible for all aspects of office administration, as well as providing support to client-facing consultants. Additionally, Claire is responsible for overseeing the monitoring and reporting of company financials.

Prior to joining Opus, Claire was the Practice Manager for Putney Dentists. In this role, Claire was responsible for overseeing the practice’s financial and administrative systems. During this time, she was also a major contributor to Putney Dentists receiving the Investor in People award. Additionally, she was responsible for the practice’s membership to the British Dental Association’s (BDA) Good Practice Scheme. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science honors degree from Queen Mary and Westfield College at the University of London.

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Barbara Urso

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Office 215 790-1188 x224


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Barbara Urso, Senior Administrative Assistant

Barbara Urso joined Opus Partners in early 2012 as Senior Administrative Assistant.  In this role, she supports day-to-day office operations and provides support for consultants, candidates and clients.

Prior to joining Opus, Barbara spent more than 20 years in healthcare and higher education.  At Temple University Health System, she worked in hospital administration, organizational development and training, and information systems.  At Temple University, Barbara worked in public-policy research.  Born and raised in Philadelphia, Barbara is acknowledged in “Philadelphia, Neighborhoods, Division and Conflict in a Post-Industrial City” published by Temple University Press.

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