Your Partners:


Michael A. Diamond

Senior Partner

Michael A. Diamond is the Senior Partner in our firm with extensive experience in university management and finance, budgeting processes, strategic planning, and international partnerships. During his lengthy career as a leader in academic institutions he has maintained an active consultancy focused on assisting over forty leading business schools with strategic planning and change management.

Prior to forming ALA, Dr. Diamond served as Vice President and Executive Vice Provost of the University of Southern California until 2005, after being appointed Vice Provost for Planning and Budget in 1995. In his capacity as Vice President and Executive Vice Provost, working closely with the Provost, Diamond was responsible for managing the academic enterprise at the University of Southern California and overseeing an academic budget approaching $1 billion. He had broad ranging responsibility for the academic enterprise including sole (and sometimes shared) oversight of the university’s academic planning and budgeting process, strategic planning, institutional research, the selection of academic deans and their periodic evaluation, space planning, crisis management, student athlete academic advisement and responsibility for the university’s then five international offices in Hong Kong, Jakarta, Mexico City, Taipei and Tokyo. He served as dean of the Leventhal School of Accounting and director of the school's SEC and Financial Reporting Institute from1987 through 1994. During that time period, the Leventhal School of Accounting was consistently ranked as one of the top five accounting programs in the country.

Under Diamond’s direction, the Leventhal School of Accounting at the University of Southern California is recognized as the pacesetter in accounting education change. He has lectured throughout the United States, Europe, and in Asia on accounting curriculum revision. His articles have appeared in Change, Accounting Horizons, Journal of Accounting and Harvard Business Review. Diamond has conducted several research projects sponsored by international accounting firms and the Financial Research Foundation. He is the author of two major accounting textbooks.

Diamond served as president of the American Accounting Association (1998 - 1999). He has been active for over forty years in that organization having served as president of the Leaders of Accounting Programs Group, chair of the New Faculty Consortium committee and Director of Education in addition to participation on several association committees. He is also active in the American Institute of CPAs and the California Society of CPAs.

In July 1994, Diamond began a one-year consulting term with The Strategic Planning Partnership, at that time an initiative of the Ernst & Young Foundation. This program assisted selected business schools and other academic organizations in strategic planning and change management processes and is now the basis for ALA’s current facilitation process.

Diamond is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California (as of September 2013). Prior to his retirement he was a full professor with an appointment in the USC Rossier School of Education and has a joint appointment in the USC Marshall School of Business. Diamond has taught at California State University, Los Angeles, and has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles, prior to becoming dean at the University of Southern California. He also has taught in executive education programs for a number of international accounting firms as well as Fortune 500 companies. Diamond is the recipient of the California Society of CPAs Faculty Excellence Award for 1993 and was named as one of the "Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting", in the fall 1998 and 1997 issues of Accounting Today.


Mark Power Robison

Managing Partner

Mark Power Robison is Managing Partner of Academic Leadership Associates, LLC, and a faculty member at the University of Southern California. Dr. Robison has deep experience in strategic planning, program review, accreditation, and the development of international programs and partnerships. In particular, strategic planning methodologies are a key area of Robison’s expertise, including scenario planning. Robison also brings expertise in engaging stakeholders in planning discussions and the development and implementation of communications strategies to facilitate change.

Before forming ALA, Robison served as Academic Planning Officer at the University of Southern California, where he coordinated a two-year strategic planning process leading to the creation of USC’s new strategic plan in 2004. That planning process involved a core group of faculty and deans and engaged hundreds of faculty and other stakeholders in the development of the plan. Dr. Robison coordinated the work of the core strategic planning committee, six sub-committees, and various senior leaders across the university between 2002 and 2004; and then Dr. Robison served as the principal author of the plan adopted by the Board of Trustees. In addition, while in the Provost’s Office he co-directed the university’s academic program review process, whereby every academic unit receives regular assessments of their academic programs and research activities. His responsibilities also included aspects of accreditation, communications, and international partnerships.

Dr. Robison retains faculty appointments at USC as a Professor of Clinical Education and History in the USC Rossier School of Education and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Department of History. He is also Chair of USC’s Global Executive Doctor of Education program. An active researcher in the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, Robison earned his B.A. degree from Wesleyan University, his M.A. in History from Claremont Graduate University, and his Ph.D. in History from the University of Colorado.

Prior to his work at USC, Robison served in the Provost’s Office at Brandeis University from 1998 through 2002, where he also taught in the Department of American Studies. While at Brandeis, Dr. Robison worked closely with the Provost and the Dean of Arts & Sciences on the full spectrum of their responsibilities, including academic planning initiatives. At Harvey Mudd College, between 1993 and 1996, Robison served as an Admission Counselor and then Assistant to the President. While in the President’s Office the focus of Dr. Robison’s work was planning for the newest Claremont College: The Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences.

Your Senior Advisors:


Rob Filback

Senior Advisor

Rob Filback is a Senior Advisor for ALA and a Professor of Clinical Education at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. A seasoned facilitator, Rob works with clients on strategic planning processes, the development of online programs, and workshops designed to stimulate creativity and innovation.

At USC, Dr. Filback teaches courses on international education, English language policy and teaching, learning theory, technology enhanced instruction and on the topic of creativity and innovation for educational leaders. He chairs the Master of Arts in TESOL program.

Dr. Filback brings deep expertise in the development of online and blended curricula. He chaired the Rossier School of Education’s Master of TESOL program from 2007 to 2011. In this role, he led a redesign process resulting in a new MAT-TESOL degree that trebled enrollments, raised rigor and selectivity and introduced a field-based, synchronous online modality to reach in-service educators around the world. From 2012 to 2016, Professor Filback served as founding Co-Chair of the Global Executive Doctor of Education program, with his primary focus on curriculum development for this first-of-its-kind, hybrid format doctoral degree designed to generate high impact international education leaders around the world. Professor Filback also served on the design team for Rossier’s national online Ed.D. in Organizational Change and Leadership. Most recently, he led the development of the new World Masters in Language Teaching program, an international, collaborative dual degree program designed to improve language teacher preparation.

Dr. Filback previously served as a lecturer in USC's American Language Institute and as a Research Assistant in USC's Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Prior to his work in higher education, he was a high school English teacher in Central Europe and then a non-profit director in the areas of international teacher preparation and intercultural communication. He has lived in Germany, Hungary and Romania and traveled in nearly fifty other countries.

Rob completed his graduate work at USC, earning both a masters in Teaching English as a Second Language and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration with a concentration in International and Intercultural Education. He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from George Fox University.


Cathy Krop

Senior Advisor

Dr. Cathy Krop holds a faculty appointment at USC as a Professor of Clinical Education in the USC Rossier School of Education and heads a women-owned business providing research and strategic support to foundations, public agencies, and education institutions. She has worked with dozens of clients leading large-scale evaluations, bringing diverse stakeholders together to design and begin change efforts, and implementing strategic initiatives and system-wide reform both in U.S. and international institutions. At USC, she has been involved in the early development of a new hybrid degree program, the Global Executive Ed.D. program, serves as a curriculum course coordinator for the Organizational Change and Leadership Program, teaches courses on implementation and emerging trends and markets in education, and sits on a variety of institutional review and development committees.

Prior to joining USC, she engaged in policy research and development as a senior staff member at the Congressional Budget Office and at the RAND Corporation. Her work at the Congressional Budget Office involved providing research and cost analyses of federal initiatives related to higher education, including student financial aid policy, where she was deeply involved in the reauthorization of the Federal Higher Education Act. Her recent research involves issues of access to higher education, student retention initiatives, national science foundation initiatives to promote math and science engagement of women and underrepresented populations in higher education, public-private partnerships in education, and the development of evolving outcome measures in education. Her research has appeared in RAND publications and policy briefs as well as in the Journal of Education Policy Analysis, the Encyclopedia of Education Economics and Finance, and in the recently published Springer Press book International Perspectives on Designing Professional Practice Doctorates. She has presented briefings to congressional committees and civic organizations and facilitated stakeholder discussions around planning and decision making in a variety of government, higher education, and community settings.

Dr. Krop received her Ph.D. and M.A. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School, where she was awarded an education policy fellowship and graduated with highest distinction. She holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Michigan.


J. Michael Thompson

Senior Advisor

J. Michael Thompson brings decades of leadership-level experience in Enrollment Management to his role as Senior Advisor at ALA. Thompson most recently served as Associate Vice President and Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at the University of the Pacific. In that role he developed, articulated and implemented a dynamic, anticipatory and thoughtful enrollment management plan that aligns with the University’s strategic plan, Pacific 2020. His office coordinated and supported enrollment management across the University’s three campuses and nine schools and colleges to optimize Pacific’s current and future enrollment.

Previously, Thompson served as Associate Vice Chancellor Enrollment Management at the University of California, Merced. At that new institution he was responsible for developing enrollment management initiatives, including recruitment and yield plans and strategies for both freshmen and transfer students, financial aid policies and strategies, as well as policies, processes and technologies for registration and the University’s retention efforts.

Prior to Merced, J. Michael led Enrollment Management at the University of Southern California. As Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission & Financial Aid he directed USC’s enrollment efforts, including managing and planning middle school and high school outreach programs, student recruitment, admission and financial aid policies, student application processing and student aid. Along with the Provost, he was responsible for strategic enrollment planning for the university and led the efforts of University personnel in communicating USC’s strengths to potential students and their families, continuing students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Thompson also has extensive experience in the private sector. As Chief Executive Officer of XAP Corporation he was responsible for strategic and operational leadership of a complex, multinational organization with clients across the continent of North America. XAP and its subsidiary Bridges Transitions Inc., provide software, content and support to clients from nearly forty percent of US high schools in twenty-five states. With annual revenues above twenty million dollars, J. Michael supervised directors responsible for finance and accounting, software development, product management, sales, marketing, client services, IT operation, human resources, business development and an institute.