101 West Grand
Suite 200
Chicago, Illinois 60654
Call Nancy at (312) 925-8067
Call Lisa at (312) 890-1403

With a combined half-century of experience as consultants and development professionals, we truly understand your issues inside and out.

No one is more excited by or driven toward your success than we are. We deliver the proven tools and resources to achieve your goals, to make the world better.  We will fully embrace your mission.

Side by side with you at every step, we bolster skills and leadership, engagement, communication, capacity, and above all, results.

And… we have a LOT of fun along the way.

8 Years

Just Cause Consulting applies deep and diverse expertise to meet the unique needs and character of your organization.

You can count on us to:

Assess Challenges

Identify Strengths, Allies & Possibilities

Customize a Plan

Pull Up a Chair Next to You

Roll Up Our Sleeves

Mobilize Resources

Act & Grow




Lisa Acker, Principal

Results-Driven. Intuitive. Creative Collaborator.

Lisa’s wealth of development expertise informs her strategic, real-world counsel. She understands that each nonprofit is unique, and she’s a master at crafting tailored strategies for fundraising success—identifying institutional strengths, targeting cultivation tactics and providing leadership training. This expertise, combined with a roll-up-her-sleeves enthusiasm and a spirit of true collaboration as she works side by side with clients, engenders a deep sense of trust and camaraderie. Her decades-long successful career includes fundraising for myriad nonprofits and political campaigns. At the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, she raised millions of dollars among donors in the Midwest, cultivated Chicago leadership, mobilized corporate giving and helped to launch the national endowment campaign. As the Midwest Political Director for a prominent national lobbying organization, she managed legislative mobilizations and catapulted membership, expanding the scope of influence to reach more legislators. She began her career in Washington, DC, fundraising across the country for U.S. Senate candidates and incumbents, and organizing benefit concerts with artists like Pearl Jam, Phish, Bonnie Raitt and Crosby, Stills & Nash. She has been trying to have that much fun ever since. Lisa earned a BA in History from the University of Texas at Austin. She lives in Wilmette, Illinois, with her husband and three kids.

Nancy Kohn, Principal

Resourceful. Conscientious. Social Justice Champion.

With decades of experience working in politics, social justice, and advocacy, Nancy creatively links human and capital resources for her clients. She has a keen sense of how to develop the assets nonprofits need to reach their goals; she brings a “can-do” attitude for finding creative solutions to any fundraising obstacle; and enjoys plotting out strategy with dedicated staff and board members. Clients value her gift for identifying the best motivation for each situation and her heartfelt commitment to each project. Nancy is proud to have served on Senator Dick Durbin’s political team since 1995, and to use her fundraising skills and strategy counsel to bring marriage equality to Illinois in 2013. Prior to forming Just Cause, she played a visible role in Chicago politics, consulting to many Democratic Senate and other progressive candidates and organizations, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Natural Resources Defense Council, Illinois Supreme Court, among others. A world-traveler and lifelong learner, Nancy graduated from Wexner Heritage Program. She is a past chair of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Training Academy. Nancy has a BA in Philosophy from Miami University and a MSC from London School of Economics and Political Science. She and her husband live in Lakeview, and enjoy spending time with their four adorable grandchildren.

Emilie DeAngelis

Emilie De Angelis, Projects Partner

For more than 20 years, Emilie has helped nonprofits in arts, culture, and education find and connect with donors to achieve major milestones and transformative ambitions. Her experience includes raising several million dollars for the early stage of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre’s capital expansion; managing top level donor gifts to the $400 million Modern Wing expansion at the Art Institute of Chicago; and crafting hundreds of VIP events that are intimate, exciting, and memorable. Her specialties include major gifts, foundation, and corporate relations; board and committee development; capital expansions, endowment, exhibitions, K-12 programs, art conservation, publications, and more. A fourth-generation New Mexican, Emilie is an appointee to the City of Albuquerque’s Arts Board, co-chairs the Builder Committee for Harwood Art Center/Escuela del Sol Montessori, is the state leader for Moms Demand Action in New Mexico, and board member of FUSION Theatre Company in Albuquerque.

Tracy Marks

Tracy Marks, Projects Partner

Tracy’s expertise is helping nonprofit organizations to uncover and then share their unique stories in ways that resonate with target audiences and spur action. For more than 25 years, she has served as communication counsel primarily for Chicago area nonprofits (including a half-dozen major cultural institutions and several social service agencies), universities and healthcare organizations, among others. Projects include capital campaign materials, annual reports, cases for support, stewardship communication, direct mail solicitation, strategic plans, museum exhibit content, crisis communication, website content, press releases, blogs, editorial/articles, and speeches. She has led her own firm (Beyond Words Strategic Communication) since 2002, and joined the Just Cause team in 2019.

Jennifer Ptak

Jennifer Ptak, Projects Partner

Jennifer Ptak is a nonprofit and public sector consultant with 15 years experience supporting innovative grant-funded programs. Most recently, Jennifer led several federally supported projects at the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development focused on community revitalization and resilience. Prior to her work at Cook County, she directed an economic research center at the University of Chicago with a portfolio of 30 projects focused on the role of financial access in developing economies. Jennifer has expertise identifying, applying for, and managing federal and private funding, launching and managing new programs, conducting outreach, and evaluating outcomes. She has experience working with a variety of private and corporate foundations and U.S. federal agencies.