“And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”
—David Byrne et al., “Once in a Lifetime”
In 1997, after five years in international brand management, Cheryl Slover-Linett decided to leave the corporate cocoon and apply her research and strategy skills to more meaningful realms. She founded Slover Linett Strategies as a solo consultancy with the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business (now known as Chicago Booth) as her flagship client.
Peter Linett, then doing graduate work in the philosophy of art at the University of Chicago, joined Cheryl in 1999 to help provide research and strategy services to leading nonprofits and corporations (see sidebar). The Chicago Symphony Orchestra became a client that year, and the Art Institute of Chicago soon followed. In 2001, we decided to concentrate exclusively on the culture and higher education sectors.
In 2005 we hired our first full-time colleague, Chloe Chittick Patton, and moved to new offices in a converted factory building on Chicago’s north side. Over the next few years the team grew rapidly, for a while making it necessary to roll extra chairs over to the conference table for our staff meetings.
In 2012, the firm underwent three major changes: we opened a new office in Boston, MA helmed by Sarah Lee, and we saw our higher education practice move to Huron Consulting Group’s Education & Life Sciences division. Both moves reflect the great success and high reputation that our work has earned over the years. As we shifted our focus away from one sector, we also changed our name to Slover Linett Audience Research.
We’re now well into our second decade of bringing cultural audiences into the conversation through research, evaluation, and assessment. As we continue to help individual institutions achieve their goals, we’re also contributing on a broader scale by creating new knowledge about cultural participation for foundations, service organizations, and the policy community.