James Hess, Ph.D., Partner

Jim Hess is a founding partner of Opus Partners, leading engagements in the Health Care, Not-for-Profit, and Higher Education practices. Over a 30-year career in executive recruitment, he has conducted more than 500 searches in general management, finance, marketing, information technology, human resources, risk management, and investment management on behalf of a wide range of clients. Healthcare clients include Boston Children's Hospital, University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, Rainbow Babies, Partners Healthcare, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, andThe University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Higher education clients include Stanford University, Harvard University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington, and Caltech.

Jim grew up outside of Philadelphia and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University. He then completed his Master's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Pennsylvania. Before co-founding Opus, Jim was Director of International Operations for Penna Consulting, Plc, a London-headquartered, publicly traded human capital management consultancy. He managed Penna's offices in Paris, Milan, Munich, Stockholm, Oslo, and Dublin. Previously, he served for more than 15 years as a Managing Director of Diversified Search, where he built the higher-education practice and served as a member of the healthcare practice. He began his career as Director of Alumni Career Services at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  He serves as Chairman of Opus’ sister recruitment firm, Cadence Partners, based in London.  Since 2011 he has lived in Portland, Oregon where he manages Opus’ west coast office.

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Craig Smith

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Telephone  215 790-1188 x222

Mobile 215 370-8910

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Craig Smith, Ph.D., Partner

Craig Smith is a founding partner of Opus Partners, where he leads engagements in the Higher Education, Not-for-Profit, and Investment Management practices. His Higher Education assignments cover academic affairs, information technology, finance, facilities management, research administration and technology transfer, and other functions for clients that include Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Stanford University, New York University, and the State University of New York. Within Investment Management, he leads asset management and risk management searches for investment companies, foundations, and university endowments. Clients include Columbia Investment Management Co., LLC, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and Boston University. His not-for-profit clients have included the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the New York Public Library.

Craig grew up in Montreal and London, graduated summa cum laude and with Honors from Brown University, and earned his Master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his Ph.D., he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Montreal. He has also taught at Bard College. He left academia in 1999 to begin a career in the search industry. Before co-founding Opus Partners, he was a Managing Director in the Higher Education practice of Diversified Search, Inc.

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Katie Dean

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Telephone 215 790-1188 x227
Mobile 215 779-6145 


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Katie Dean, MSW, Associate Partner

Katie Dean, Associate Partner, joined Opus Partners in 2004. Her search work encompasses a variety of roles with education, healthcare, and not-for-profit clients including Harvard University, Yale University, Cornell University, Columbia University, The University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Partners HealthCare, Georgia Tech, Stanford University, MIT, Caltech, Arizona State University, and the University of Washington.

Prior to joining Opus, Katie spent five years with Diversified Search, Inc. as Vice President and Senior Associate in the Higher Education and Not-for-Profit practices and worked extensively with private-sector clients in business development and information technology positions. Katie focused the first 10 years of her career in various clinical and supervisory roles within the social service and mental health community, providing family counseling services as well as individual and group therapy. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from Villanova University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Sarah Gaines

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Telephone 434 305-1960  
Cell    215 605-2720


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Sarah Gaines, Associate Partner & Certified Diversity Recruiter

Sarah Gaines rejoined Opus Partners in January 2019, having worked as an Associate at the firm from 2007 to 2011. Her work is informed by a career in nonprofit administration, with an emphasis on fundraising and program development for educational, human service, and cultural organizations. Most recently, she was employed by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) in Charlottesville, Virginia where she oversaw fundraising and communications for the organization, consulted for other nonprofits in fundraising, and developed CNE’s leadership transition services. This service line is intended to help nonprofit boards plan for and run an Executive Director search, effectively onboard new leaders, and engage in proactive succession planning.

Sarah graduated Phi Beta Kappa from New York University and earned a masters in nonprofit administration from Rosemont College. She and her family live in Charlottesville, VA, where she is engaged in the nonprofit community and volunteers at her children’s school. In addition, she is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter.

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Jay Scott

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Telephone  434-951-9080


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Jay Scott, Associate Partner

Jay Scott has over 25 years of experience working with higher education and academic medical centers. Before joining Opus Partners in 2019, he was the founder and President of CBO Partners®, an executive search firm focused on leadership in academic medicine. Jay’s background before founding CBO Partners® in 2007 includes nine years as the Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration at the University of Virginia School of Medicine as well as time serving as Director of the Budget for the University of Virginia, Director of Administration for the Department of Ophthalmology, and Director of Budget and Payroll for the University of Virginia School of Medicine. His early career experience includes entrepreneurship and investment management. He holds a bachelor of arts in economics and a master of business administration, both from the University of Virginia.

Jay has completed additional training in coaching for greater effectiveness at the Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL®). He is also certified by CCL to administer its suite of 360-degree assessment tools. For the 17th consecutive year, CCL has earned a Top-10 ranking in the Financial Times’ worldwide survey of executive education.

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Thomas Lapierre, MSW, Senior Associate & Certified Diversity Recruiter

Thomas Lapierre rejoined Opus Partners in January 2021, resuming his role as Senior Associate in our Portland, OR office. Previously, he worked at Opus from 2014-2018, moving up to a Senior Associate role. Before returning to Opus, Thomas lived in Shanghai for two years. His client work has included searches for Columbia University, Northwestern University, University of California San Francisco, University of Michigan, University of Washington, and Williams College among others. Before his first stint with Opus, Thomas worked in social services and non-profit organizations. A Rhode Island native, he earned his Master of Social Work and undergraduate degree from Rhode Island College before relocating to the Pacific Northwest.  

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Marisea Rivera

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Telephone 541-915-5689


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Marisea Rivera, MS, Senior Associate & Certified Diversity Recruiter

Marisea joined the Portland office of Opus Partners in 2015 and works in the firm’s higher education and healthcare practices. Her client work includes searches for Rutgers University, the University of California Office of the President and several UC campuses, the University of Portland, Brown University, Northwestern University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Harvard University among others. She has also worked in executive search within life sciences. Before joining Opus, Marisea worked as an access consultant in disability services at the University of Arizona. Earlier in her career she worked litigation and jury consulting.

Marisea earned her bachelor’s degree from Reed College and her master’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is dedicated to criminal-justice reform and has volunteered with a mitigation investigator in Arizona as well as at the Death Row Support Project. Marisea is an AIRS-Certified Diversity Recruiter.

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Jeffrey Stafford

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Telephone 434-365-3023
Cell    434-996-6836


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Jeffrey Stafford, Senior Associate & Certified Diversity Recruiter

Jeff Stafford has been in the higher education executive recruitment industry since 2010, initially working as a Senior Recruiter at the University of Virginia’s Executive Search Group, then with CBO Partners, and now with Opus Partners.  As a Senior Associate, Jeff works on all aspects of the search process including crafting candidate profiles, developing and executing strategic marketing campaigns, consultation with search committees regarding candidate evaluation and assessment, and the overall sourcing, interview, and selection process.

Before beginning his career in executive search, Jeff held various leadership positions at LexisNexis, latterly as Director leading a government law publishing team focused on developing relationships with state and federal government agencies and associations.  Jeff is an U.S. Army veteran and received a Master of Business Administration from James Madison University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo.  In addition, he is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter. Jeff has a daughter who graduated from Virginia Military Institute, and another daughter and a son who recently graduated from the University of Virginia.  He works in Opus’ Charlottesville, VA office.

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Abigail Maynard

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Telephone 434-251-7394


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Abigail Maynard, Associate & Certified Diversity Recruiter

Abigail joined Opus Partners in 2021, bringing over 15 years of leadership engagement, international operations, and nonprofit management experience to the search process through her work with organizations including CFA Institute, the Institute for Shipboard Education/Semester at Sea, and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. Based in Charlottesville, VA, she holds an MA in American Studies from the University of Hawaii and a BA in American Studies from Dickinson College.

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Christopher Stadler

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Tel 503-327-5688


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Christopher Stadler, Associate & Certified Diversity Recruiter and Professional Recruiter

Chris rejoined Opus Partners in August 2019 as a Research Associate, having previously worked at the firm from 2014 to 2015. In 2020 he became an Associate. His client work includes searches for California Institute of the Arts, the J. Paul Getty Trust, Columbia University, Cortex Innovation Community, Eisenhower Fellowships, European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California Observatories, and Virginia Commonwealth University. In between his stints at Opus, Chris worked in programming and grants management for an international non-governmental organization focusing on forced migration and humanitarian assistance in the Middle East. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Groningen and his bachelor’s from Cornell College. Chris was a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Germany from 2012 to 2013. Chris is an AIRS-Certified Diversity Recruiter and an AIRS-Certified Professional Recruiter.

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Lara Arlen-Wier, MS, MALS, Senior Associate, Research & Knowledge Management; Certified Diversity and Social and New Media Recruiter

Lara joined Opus Partners in 2017 as Research Associate. She leads the research efforts by developing search-specific research strategies, and management of Opus Partners’ extensive proprietary candidate database. Her work reaches across industry sectors with searches in senior administrative and academic roles for institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Davidson College, Princeton University, and Northwestern University.

Prior to Opus, Lara worked for organizations spanning nonprofit sectors including higher education, humanitarian, human services, arts, and performing arts with a specialization in fundraising research and prospect management. Her most recent role was at the Juilliard School with previously held positions at the Pratt Institute and the International Rescue Committee. Lara also taught in the nonprofit management certificate program offered by Portland State University, and consulted on fundraising operations for nonprofits in the Portland area. She serves on the GLSEN Oregon board and previously served on the Diversity Committee at the Pratt Institute. Lara holds an undergraduate degree from Scripps College, an MALS from Hollins University, and an MS from the Pratt Institute. In addition, she is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter and an AIRS Certified Social and New Media Recruiter.

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Maureen Ndubuisi

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Tel: 434-234-7099


Maureen Ndubuisi, Project Coordinator & Research Associate / Certified Diversity Recruiter

Maureen joined Opus Partners in 2021 as a Project Coordinator & Research Associate. She is responsible for supporting research activities related to searches, tracking and coordinating advertising and candidate communications, database development, and ensuring that search teams meet their project milestones efficiently. She works closely with the team responsible for each search and with our research and administration groups. Before joining Opus, Maureen was an Office Administrative Assistant and a Staff Writer at Southwest Minnesota State University where she received her B.A. in Professional Writing and Communication.

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Claire Miller

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Telephone 215 790-1188 x234 


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Claire Miller, SHRM-CP, CPSP, Chief Business Officer

Claire Miller joined Opus Partners in 2004 and is responsible for all aspects of office administration, as well as providing support to client-facing consultants. Additionally, Claire is responsible for overseeing the monitoring and reporting of company financials.

Prior to joining Opus, Claire was the Practice Manager for Putney Dentists. In this role, Claire was responsible for overseeing the practice’s financial and administrative systems. During this time, she was also a major contributor to Putney Dentists receiving the Investor in People award. Additionally, she was responsible for the practice’s membership to the British Dental Association’s (BDA) Good Practice Scheme. Claire graduated with a Bachelors of Science honors degree from Queen Mary and Westfield College at the University of London. She is a Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and a Certified Plan Sponsor Professional (CPSP).

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Barbara Urso

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Telephone 215 790-1188 x224


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Barbara Urso, Senior Administrative Assistant

Barbara Urso joined Opus Partners in early 2012 as Senior Administrative Assistant.  In this role, she supports day-to-day office operations and provides support for consultants, candidates and clients.

Prior to joining Opus, Barbara spent more than 20 years in healthcare and higher education.  At Temple University Health System, she worked in hospital administration, organizational development and training, and information systems.  At Temple University, Barbara worked in public-policy research.  Born and raised in Philadelphia, Barbara is acknowledged in “Philadelphia, Neighborhoods, Division and Conflict in a Post-Industrial City” published by Temple University Press.

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