Jonathan J. Halperin
Jonathan J. Halperin
Designing Research, Communications
and Strategies for Sustainability

Driving Step Change

Jonathan J. Halperin

Jonathan J. Halperin has collaborated with international business executives, local nonprofit leaders, public officials and creative media producers for three decades. 

Designing Sustainability, his latest entrepreneurial venture, brings this work together in a strategy consultancy organized around three core service offerings: Strategy, Communications and Research.

Client collaborations, recent and ongoing, include the following:

  • With Unilever, research and strategic guidance around the question of what’s next in monitoring agricultural production on a global scale to keep consumer trust.
  • With Participant Media, formulating the idea and helping execute the creation of a photo mosaic of successful Americans who were once on food stamps/SNAP, for their campaign around the film, A Place at The Table.
  • With CERES, providing ongoing strategic counsel on program alignment, development, growth, and long-term mission and metrics.
  • With Mundo Verde, designing and launching a school-wide sustainability program - platform, metrics, issue priorities, and stakeholder engagement.
  • With The James Beard Foundation, planning support for the annual conference and moderator during the event.

Based in the Washington, DC, area, Mr. Halperin serves as a trusted source for journalists, a regular public speaker, meeting facilitator, brainstorm leader, panel moderator, blogger, producer and conference interlocutor.


Small entrepreneurial organizations and large firms with entrenched processes and traditions both need innovative strategies, effectively executed and sustained over time.

Success today increasingly means embracing change rather than abiding the status quo, and designing the conversation to drive that change is a key part of what we do to embed sustainability into core organizational operations, incentives and goals.

To that end we ask and answer tough questions, often initially provoking constructive discomfort among leaders, and then developing supports for organizational change to better meet strategic goals. We do not provoke simply to get a reaction but rather to push leaders to innovate, rethink, and test their own assumptions.

Do we have a real sustainability strategy or just a cluster of efficiency initiatives?
What is the next cutting edge for our sector in sustainability?
What will critical stakeholders expect from us not this year, or next year but out five or ten years?

The tools we’ve used vary as widely as the places we’ve worked – from Kazakhstan to California: trend, media, and S.W.O.T analyses; scenario planning; competitive and best-practice assessments; organizational resiliency testing; political risk assessment; critical pathways identification and testing; brand and identity evaluations. But beyond these discrete techniques, beyond the written strategic plan, deep foresight comes from connecting the dots and seeing what has not been seen before. And that is the value of our offer.

SustainAbility, Resources for the Future, GreenSpace, Chevron and The James Beard Foundation are among the diverse organizations and companies with whom we have collaborated in this work space.


Critical audiences and stakeholders often hold values and beliefs about issues, products or organizations about which they can have great or little knowledge and with which they can have some or no relationship.

We engage with clients and their stakeholders to change perceptions, knowledge and behavior. This work ensures that core messages are properly framed, designed creatively to cut through the media static, pushed into the world innovatively to reach their intended audiences—and support core business goals and/or drive social change.

Do we really know what our stakeholders think about us?
Are we effective at changing perceptions, knowledge, and/or the behavior of key audiences and thought leaders in our markets?
Do our communications efforts around sustainability actually support our core business?

Video production, creative development, logo and brand upgrades and rollouts; media training, communications audits, web redesigns; effective press releases, media lists, social media access, blogging and tweeting; live international events; enhanced contact management software and internal process; annual reports, newsletters, letters, appeals, studies, and webinars are all part of our communications arsenal. But synergy, leverage, integration, and ensuring that communications advance the core mission – that it moves the dial – is the key to what we deliver for clients.

Hope in a Changing Climate, Circle of Blue, Nestle, Mundo Verde and Participant Media are among the organizations and projects with whom we have succeeded in this work space. For additional information and for two case studies, see Case Studies: Communications, Identity and Marketing Strategy.


Supporting senior-level decision-making requires niche research skills, creative methodologies, and a keen sense of current context and future trends. Inventing market research approaches that make sense in non-market economies is indicative of our approach to solving real client challenges.

We design and execute tailored research efforts, identifying new approaches, flagging missed opportunities, drawing attention to unseen risks, and plugging the discrete knowledge holes that frustrate clients.

We’ve been chasing this for too long; what are we missing that is keeping us from hitting that target?
To execute this on budget, we really better understand “X.”
It is not something we have ever done before, but given the changes underway how do get up to speed on this – and fast?

Tailoring is our hallmark – from survey research and attitudinal studies of general and elite audiences around the world; to detailed portraits of critical stakeholders; from due diligence assessments of energy firms in the former Soviet Union, to political risk and leadership dossiers for delicate negotiations; from field work to web and digital analysis; from presenting organizational wire diagrams to trend and ‘early-warning’ techniques; from in-depth expert interviews to statistical analysis; from marketing reports, studies of penetration rates and installed base to multi-client sectoral studies.

Knowing both the strengths and weakness of each of these approaches enables us to see behind the curtain of what has already been done - so we can propose and execute new approaches and offer insight and foresight.

Unilever, Hewlett-Packard, Everyday Democracy, DuPont and GlobeScan and are among the clients for whom we have provided research and knowledge support.

I have worked with Jonathan to full satisfaction on a number of small, strategic projects. He is a creative thinker with a deep understanding of the intricacies of sustainable agriculture and with a keen eye for business value.

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