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Michael J. Quinlan

Michael J. Quinlan
Executive Fellow


Michael J. Quinlan is a respected executive and the founder and former president of Michael Quinlan, Inc., the largest distributor of the acclaimed “Crucial Conversations” process to global corporations. He founded the company in Chicago in 2003 and led it through periods of high growth to become a multi-million - dollar consulting firm with six employees. Quinlan developed a successful business plan by building a robust client base consisting of domestic and international Fortune 100 companies in the Midwest, offering leading edge organizational effectiveness programs to middle and senior-level managers. His client base included well known multi - national companies such as Abbott, Northern Trust, Harley-Davidson, Northwestern Mutual, Johnsonville Sausage and GE Healthcare. In addition to distributing “Crucial Conversations,” the company’s product line included “Crucial Accountability” and “Influencer” programs. Quinlan elected to retire in 2017, and the company was acquired by VitalSmarts, Inc. of Provo, Utah.

Quinlan’s early career experience included regional sales manager, Midwest for Blessing / White, Inc. (1984 to 1995), a global consulting firm dedicated to creating sustainable high performance organizations, where he led a team of account executives and landed major accounts. From 1976 to 1984 he served as regional sales manager for Organizational Dynamics, selling integrated consulting and training services in the Midwest. He began his career with the Illinois Department of Labor as an Employee Relations Manager from 1972 to 1976.

Respected for demonstrating insight and a commonsense approach to business, Quinlan combines management and organizational development experience to select “best practices” in development. He believes that every individual, regardless of background and education is capable of high performance in the workplace. His business philosophy recognizes individual potential and enables the “whole” person to show up safely at work, which allows organizations to excel and defines what leadership is all about.

Quinlan graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, followed by a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Roosevelt University in Chicago and a Master of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) from Loyola University Chicago. He serves on the Planning Committee of the Door County Civility Project, and is the former board chair of the Support Center of Chicago. He currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife Kathryn and their two daughters.  He is available for board memberships or executive consulting engagements.