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We are a team of dedicated professionals working to help our clients make better decisions and provide better leadership. We believe in continual learning and improvement — and expanding and applying our knowledge base — to deliver actionable research and decision-driving insights. We treat every client project as if it were our own, always striving for excellence, and keeping purpose and execution at the forefront. Collectively, we are committed to making a positive difference for the people and organizations we serve, and hope we may be of service to you.


the team
Neil Goldman pic 7.jpg

Neil founded Goldman Consulting & Strategy (GCS, Inc.) — an organizational development and perceptual research firm — in 2002 with a clear purpose: to help leaders make better decisions, and to help individuals and organizations facilitate positive change. Neil is a consultant, a strategist, a researcher, a teacher, and a motivator. To date, Neil has collaborated with over 500 clients, and in 49 states nationwide. Through strategic planning, research services, workshops and consulting, Neil and the GCS team provide insights and information for better decisions and better leadership.

Neil is a school board member, an instructor at numerous colleges and also Western CUNA Management School. He has served as Master of Ceremonies for over 20 national conferences, and has personally conducted focus groups with over 4000 consumers.  Neil is also a former president and owner of Member Research, serving financial institutions since 1988. 


Neil holds a doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership, an MBA with a marketing emphasis, and a BA in Communication Studies. Through foundational models developed in 25+ years of consulting and his doctoral work, Neil provides tools to assess and develop focus and success.  One such example is the Escalator Model highlighted throughout this site. Neil’s continuing objective is to turn research into results, and information into action. And for all engaged to have fun in the process.

Senior Partner
Lara mills-knuth

Lara is responsible for the day-to-day management of multiple market research projects, primarily focused on financial institutions. Lara ensures that each project is resourced and implemented correctly, on budget, on time, and to our clients' satisfaction. Lara’s background includes 25 years in administration; including: project management, survey design and implementation, human resources management, accounting, statistical reporting, training, and meeting and event planning. She also has a background in mediation and social services. Lara is a highly organized individual who is driven by providing impeccable customer service with quality outcomes. Lara is based in Phoenix, Arizona where she spends her free time exploring the outdoors with her family and traveling.

Lara is a graduate of Northern Arizona University.

Project Manager
Dr. Heather Backstrom,

Dr. Backstrom has more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of organization and leadership development including executive coaching, workshop design and delivery, team interventions and meeting facilitation. The breadth of her experience spans organizations in the for-profit, not-for-profit and public sector arenas. 

Her rich expertise includes Toyota, City of Hope National Medical Center, Beach Cities Health District, Moog and JPL. With a passion for learning and continuing education, Dr. Backstrom is also an adjunct faculty member with the University of Redlands where she delights in teaching MBA students. 

She takes a customized, in-depth approach with leaders and teams to enhance their capacity to work more effectively and perform at higher levels. 

Dr. Backstrom also loves to learn and have fun at the same time. She incorporates proven principles from improv into her work. As a student of improv, she has trained at The Second City, iO West and UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade).

An enthusiastic learner herself she received a doctorate degree in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University. She also a professional certified coach (PCC) through the International Coach Federation. 

She is on the Board of Directors of Leadership Pasadena and is a volunteer with the Tournament of Roses Association.

Executive Consultant
MEgan Hansford
Megan is a data analyst who generates quantitative and qualitative summaries of key survey information for GCS. She received BAs in Neuroscience and English from the University of Southern California and enjoys using both fields to provide in-depth insight into the data she processes. Her background ranges from academic research to SEO copywriting, and she continually seeks to develop new skills and employ new software to expand her knowledge base. When not working with data, Megan enjoys reading works from emerging authors, taking walks through her D.C. neighborhood, and painting with her cat nearby.
Data Analyst


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