About Us 2018-01-25T03:50:25+00:00

SOCIAL, BUSINESS, EDUCATION, GOVERNMENT, AND PHILANTHROPIC  sectors working together to create positive, meaningful, and sustainable change to benefit our communities. Easy to state, difficult to do.

We focus on strengthening client impact in practice areas such as business modeling, group facilitation, governance, leadership, and strategy development. Bringing a networked consulting model, combined with community learning and development, we support projects tackling issues of all types and sizes.

At Sort Sol Group, we work with community leaders to co-create knowledge and be a collective force for social change. We lead change and change leaders.

At Sort Sol Group, we engage social sector, business, education, government, and philanthropic leaders to be a collective force for community change.

Our Story

The Danish term “sort sol” refers to a natural phenomenon in which hundreds of thousands of starlings gather to collectively select a location to rest or avoid a predator. The imagery of sort sol connects with our values of community, partnership, and collaboration. The challenges we face are larger than any one person, organization, or sector can independently overcome – they require a unified effort to make an impact.

The Sort Sol Group, applies the behavioral values of the flock – separation, alignment, and cohesion. Flocks avoid crowding neighbors (separation), seek to align efforts by steering together (alignment), and steer towards a common direction (cohesion).

We later discovered that Sort Sol is also a Danish 1970s punk rock band with an affinity for leather outfits. We have yet to find a profound connection between the band and our effort, but we are open to suggestions!

There are some really tough issues facing our communities. Individuals and communities face complex, long-term, and systemic issues that complicate or prevent positive change from being realized. There are opportunities to improve and many leaders seeking to make a greater impact.

Sort Sol Group was launched to support these innovative and courageous leaders who want to make a greater impact. We know that projects and leaders often need outside support to realize their goals and Sort Sol Group does just that.

We engage social sector, business, education, government, and philanthropic leaders to be a collective force for community change.
  • We do better, together.
  • Everyone a learner, everyone a leader.
  • Authenticity creates possibility.
  • Continuous learning is what makes change sustainable.
  • The assets necessary for real change already exist, and only need to be engaged and directed towards impact.
We envision positive, meaningful, and sustainable systems change for the benefit of all.

Our Team

Dennis Johnson
Founder & Managing Partner

Dennis brings more than twenty years of experience in the corporate, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to his work. He has strong skills in organizational development, planning, and facilitation with in-depth experience in engagement, governance, leadership development, organizational learning, project management, strategy, and strengths based, talent systems.
In addition to being a Founder and Managing Partner, Dennis is a Principal of Leadership Architecture & Design, an Executive Coach for the Ken Blanchard Companies, and an Instructor at the University of Wisconsin School of Business.
Dennis is a Certified Governance Trainer with BoardSource, a Certified Administrator in The Leadership Circle Assessments, a Certified Facilitator in TCC Group’s Core Capacity Assessment Tool and a professional coach trained through the Coaches Training Institute and credentialed by the International Coaching Federation.
Dennis is a member of Association for Talent Development Madison Area Chapter, BoardSource, Consultants for Organizational Reflection and Effectiveness and the International Coaching Federation. He holds his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska’s Gallup Leadership Institute and received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin.
Dennis was named one of Madison’s ‘40 under 40’ in 2009. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and training for long distance triathlon (Dennis is a three-time Ironman finisher.)

If Dennis were a bird, he would be a goose. If you have read the book Gung HO!, you’d be familiar with the “gift of the goose.” Dennis loves to teach and motivate others by cheering them on!

Kathie Nichols
Program Coordinator

Kathie holds a BA in History and Literature from Binghamton University, and an MBA in Business Economics and Public Policy from George Washington University. She has experience with closely held business valuation, having worked for 5 years with Madison Valuation Associates. But the majority of her career has been spent working with and for nonprofits. Kathie served as the Business Administrator at the First United Methodist Church for 23 years. Most recently she has been working as the Program Coordinator for the UW Madison Board Leadership Program. This unique and innovative partnership matches UW graduate students with various nonprofits in the community, helping the students to experience the rewards of nonprofit Board service as part of a graduate level course. This is a perfect fit for Kathie, as she spends much of her time serving on three nonprofit Boards herself. When not doing nonprofit work, Kathie can most often be found at the Overture Center enjoying theater and fine arts; at UW sporting events; or walking on the Isthmus with her young dog, Zander.
If Kathie could be a bird, it would be a robin. Robins are the quintessential “early birds” and she enjoys the peace and solitude of early mornings. Robins are also the harbingers of Spring: they bring the promise of new beginnings and new life. What could be more inspiring and exhilarating than that?

Ben Williams
Founder & Managing Partner

Ben is a lifelong learner, and loves to help leaders and organizations move from idea to action. He enjoys consulting projects because of the great relationships built with leaders tackling difficult challenges and seeking opportunities to make an impact in their communities. He enjoys facilitating conversations and developing tools that integrate strategic and business model considerations into organization’s decision making process.
He has over eight years of experience supporting organizational change through strategy development, business modelling and scenario thinking for diverse clients, including startup initiatives, nonprofits, businesses, and multi-sector collaboratives. Ben graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with degrees in marketing, management & human resources and psychology and received his Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the La Follette School of Public Affairs.
Ben enjoys balancing recent fatherhood with an active lifestyle of rock climbing, creative endeavors (currently learning to play the ukulele), and tackling home improvement projects with his wife.
If Ben could be any bird he would be a great horned owl because they are intent listeners and extremely adaptable to diverse climates.