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Panorama Partner Profile: Sam Pettway

August 28, 2018

Our global partners have a depth of experience working across all sectors: private, public and non-profit. We’d like to introduce you to some of the leading players in their respective markets who make up the Panorama team.

Meet Sam Pettway, BoardWalk Consulting

Finding leaders that matter for missions that matter.®

Sam Pettway is the founding director of BoardWalk Consulting, a firm specializing in non-profit executive search based in Atlanta, Georgia. During his career in executive search, Sam has worked with hundreds of board members and leadership teams with entities ranging from start-ups to mature multinationals in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. Since founding BoardWalk in 2002, he has served clients as varied as international relief agencies, national foundations, regional trade associations and local agencies in dozens of markets.

Sam spent 25 years in board recruitment and executive search before launching BoardWalk, 21 of them with two of the finest firms in the field, Spencer Stuart (1993-2002), and Egon Zehnder (1981-1993), for which he opened and built the Atlanta office. Sam has personally served clients in at least three dozen states and 16 other countries.

Throughout his career, Sam has been an active trustee of numerous non-profits, associations and foundations, both public and private. He was on the founding board for 12 years each with two particularly impactful start-ups, Atlanta Police Foundation and Atlanta International School, now widely regarded as models for the power of public-private partnerships and diversity in action.

In 2011 Sam received the Commitment to Community Award (then known as the Eleanor Raynolds Award), given once each year by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), the worldwide trade association for executive search and leadership consulting; he subsequently served for several years on AESC’s global board. In 2014, Sam got a new perspective on executive search when he was one of eight AESC board members from four continents who served on AESC’s own CEO search committee.

A Navy veteran, Sam holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS), where he is a past member of the global alumni association’s board of trustees and past president of the local club. He is a trustee of the Harland Charitable Foundation, a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and an active alumnus of Leadership Atlanta. Earlier, he was chair of the American Running Association and a board member of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Virginia (now part of Anthem).

While president of the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta, Sam established a scholarship fund, which has since sent scores of non-profit executives to various executive courses at HBS. He then created the annual BoardWalk Governance Fellowships at Harvard Business School to promote participation in “Governing for Non-profit Excellence,” an executive program specifically designed for non-profit board members. Over a decade, BoardWalk awarded some 45 such fellowships to trustees from a variety of non-profits across the country.

Sam has been an active member on the Council on Foundation’s Committee on Inclusiveness, a group of foundation leaders from across the US with a shared commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in philanthropic leadership, programs and services. He has been a regular supporter of and presenter to the Council’s Career Pathways program for emerging leaders in philanthropy.

In 1980, Sam established the William D. Pettway Prize in Drama at the University of Virginia, awarded each year to fourth-year students who have made distinctive contributions to the University’s drama department, among the early student winners: Tina Fey, class of ’92.

Sam is a late-blooming athlete who has completed 20 marathons, his latest being the Boston Marathon (2018) in the worst weather in the race’s 122-year history (torrential rains, 20-42mph headwinds).

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