Michelle Sherbun, PCC, ELI-MP, president of Merlin Solutions LLC, recently launched The Leadership Design Alliance to strengthen socially conscious leadership across sectors. A seasoned nonprofit management consultant and accredited leadership coach, she has helped nonprofit leaders surpass fundraising goals and overcome organizational challenges for more than 35 years.  She brings philanthropists, advisors, businesses, and nonprofit leaders together in collaborations that turn good ideas into great solutions.

Michelle believes that each and every challenge presents organizations with invaluable opportunities to transform.  And she believes that successful people and organizations grow from the inside out.  By tapping into the strengths that drive their best efforts, her clients inspire and motivate themselves and others toward success.
Michelle has led numerous management and fund development workshops. She continues to study and work in the areas of leadership development and creative problem solving, introducing her clients to new techniques that prepare them to lead change.
A published writer and accomplished speaker and trainer on topics related to fundraising, marketing, and personal development, Michelle is past president of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) , the Association of Philanthropic Counsel, Women in the Development Profession, the Community Memorial Foundation Capacity Building Initiative Advisory Board, and the International Coaching Federation and its Chicago Chapter. In 2016 Michelle was recognized by AFP Chicago with the Benjamin Franklin Award for her contributions to the fundraising profession.  
And in 2017, she received the President’s Award for her contributions to the AFP Chicago Chapter.


Our Mission

To raise social consciousness and inspire action by coaching and developing leaders across sectors who are committed to imagining and building thriving communities.



In my former position, I originally hired Michelle to train our board to call on donors. As it turned out, she also served as a valuable ongoing resource for difficult cases and interesting challenges with our fundraising work. Her approach is very direct and action-oriented, and her knowledge base is remarkably broad and deep. With Michelle’s help, we doubled our individual giving figures within a year.
— Jim Kales | CEO, Aspire
Michelle has a lot of the attributes I value — she’s disciplined, has a clear methodology, and educates herself constantly. Most consultants and firms work best when clients know what their goals are; if they’re not sure about their goals, the firms can’t help them. But Michelle listens well and can help you define exactly what you need. She is a superb partner.
— Karen Foley | Executive Director, Chicago Scholars
Lots of Michelle’s clients are NFPs, but she can help the corporate sector too. She sees the value of partnering the two sectors, and she finds innovative ways to make those connections, to bridge the two groups. She has tremendous energy, a thorough understanding of her field, and plenty of innovative ideas.
— Sharon Bush | Managing Director, Grand Victoria Foundation
Two years ago, our charitable organization with a 90-plus year history made a bold change and redefined its purpose. A new set of higher aspirations were adopted, both for our business and for our mission. At critical points, our talking-through and sense making processes were greatly aided by the thoughtful facilitation of Michelle Sherbun.

As our Board’s guide in two planning retreats, Michelle gave us the best of her experience — spotting ruts in the road before we hit the bumps. She knew when to offer a new perspective and she knew when to call the question. Michelle was a sensitive catalyst, and her contribution to helping us evolve the idea of Cantata will always be appreciated.
— Dennis Sonnenberg | Former Executive Director, Cantata
With Michelle’s help, we reached our capital campaign goal and built a tremendous building. Michelle began by putting together a comprehensive plan, and then stood by our side as she helped us execute that plan by leading board members through a process many of us were unfamiliar with. She showed us how to steward all types of donors, from those with means to those who had small amounts to donate. She advised and directed us as we garnered corporate and civic support throughout our community. I attribute our success to many people and factors, but Michelle’s attention to detail, insistence on keeping to critical timetables, and accommodating personality played a key role in our success. Simply put, she ensures that volunteers stay motivated and on track. We found that our investment in Michelle paid out many times over. Michelle is a consummate professional who thoroughly understands the non-profit development world and I would highly recommend her.
— Howard Eirenberg | Board Member, Youth Services of Glenview/ Northbrook
Michelle Sherbun is a passionate, talented advocate for nonprofits and the hard work of raising money to make them work. She creates strong plans that build the capacity of each organization to grow. And she helps the organization’s leaders understand it is their job, not hers, to put those plans into action. Hold a hand over here, kick some butts over there, celebrate a bunch of new gifts. All in a day’s work for Michelle!
— Karl Androes | Co-Founder and Executive Director, Reading In Motion