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Work experience

Sep 1992Present

President and Senior Consultant

The Ethics Company
Sole proprietorship, working with corporations, county and city governments, foundations, and nonprofit organizations on practical strategies and skills to build strengths-based, values-centered, and ethically-grounded organizations. Our mission is to help clients do right and do well-to succeed by being at their best every day in their treatment of their co-workers and the communities they serve. We help clients develop skills to remove obstacles, resolve conflicts, make sustainable decisions, engage in creative debate, and reach consensus about practical ways to accomplish a mission, achieve a vision, and make corporate values an integral part of everyone's everyday work. Company was founded in 1992 as Thomas Shanks Consulting, renamed in 2006 when consulting practice expanded to full-time.


  • Planning, conducting, evaluating workshops and other  training in ethical decision-making, values-based leadership, and creating values-based organizational cultures
  • Extensive experience in building public trust, improving relationships with co-workers, leadership role-modeling, conducting ethical political campaigns,  team-building, public deliberation, finding common ground, active listening, and effective communication
  • Capacity building and resource development; improving grant-making, development and grant-seeking; taking Board governance and oversight to the next level
  • Group facilitation, public deliberation, consensus-building, participatory decision-making,  conflict resolution, dialog, creative debate, crisis intervention and communication
  • Planning, conducting, data analysis, and reporting for surveys and other quantitative methods, as well as for focus groups, interviews, listening meetings, and other qualitative methodologies
Sep 1977Aug 2007

Department of Communication

Associate Professor of Communication  (1988-2007)

Tenured and Promoted to Associate Professor  (1988)

Department Chair  (1985-1991)

Department Founder  (1985)                                        

Assistant Professor of Communication  (1985-1988)

Acting Assistant Professor of Communication  (1982-1985)

Assistant Director, TV Facility  (1977-1984)

Adjunct Lecturer in Theatre Arts  (1977-1982)

Joined faculty full time in 1982 in Theatre Department until completion of Ph.D. in 1985, when I became Assistant Professor in newly established Communication Department.  In 1988, became first tenured faculty member. Held post of Associate Professor until I left SCU in September, 2007 to pursue full-time consulting. While completing doctoral studies, worked part-time as Adjunct Lecturer and Assistant Director of the instructional TV Facility

  • Wrote and defended proposal (1984) to establish new undergraduate department, arguing successfully that no modern Jesuit University could ignore serious study communication and technology. Today it is the largest undergraduate department at the University
  • Designed innovative undergraduate curriculum (1984), integrating theory and practice, service learning, senior thesis, public speaking, and public thesis presentation; became model for other Universities; remained in effect for 14 years; continues to be central to today's Department curriculum
  • Served as first Chair of the Department (1985-1991),  recruited and supervised 12 (FTE) faculty and three staff; raised funds for an endowed professorship, and began lobbying and fundraising for a new building, which was built in 1999
  • Led collaborative process to develop and implement first departmental strategic plan
  • Ran departmental internship, alumni, career, and professional mentoring programs until additional staff was hired
  • Taught undergraduate courses in new technologies, web design, html, css (Communication and Technology), public policy, communication ethics, Senior Thesis (survey research and statistics),  TV writing, producing, directing, drama writing, broadcast journalism; team-taught graduate courses in engineering ethics; team-taught computer-assisted design and communication
  • Built the student newspaper (1982-1986) and yearbook (1981-1986)  into award-winning programs
  • Co-wrote, produced, and directed annual Oscar-style main-stage productions to recognize student work, promote the department, and raise money (1980-1985)
  • Served on faculty fellows board for the University's Eastside Project, a service learning project which placed students in social service agencies throughout Eastside San José not as "volunteers," but as "learners." Students spent 8 to 10 hours a week in an Eastside agency, immersing themselves in the culture and the lives of the people those agencies served. Students would then propose to both the agency and the teacher a learning project that would meet real needs of the agency. Students in television producing and directing, for example, produced video projects that had real-world uses.
  • Completed an Eastside summer immersion experience for faculty, learning about learning vs. volunteering, solidarity, respect, diversity, prejudice, power, and justice
  • Consultant to: San Mateo Community College District (1979), Palo Alto Weekly (1980), Mountain View Cable Company (1981), Jamaica (WI) Broadcasting Company (JBC-Radio Central, US-AID funded; 1980-81), Assocation for Media-Based Continuing Education of Engineers (NSF funded, 1980-82), San Jose Repertory (1982-83), Santa Clara County Arts Council (1985-86), Merrill-Lynch Video Network (1985), National Catholic Education Assocation (1985-1986), Center for Study of Communication and Culture (London, Steering Committee for 4th Cavalletti Seminar on "Formation of Moral Judgment in a Mass-Mediated Culture, 1987; Chapter published in proceedings 1988)
Sep 1985Jul 2002

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University

Senior Fellow, Business Ethics and Public Policy  (2000-2002)

Director, Business Ethics and Public Policy    (1999-2000)

Executive Director  (1992-1999)

Steering Committee (1985-1999)

Chair, Ex Officio (1992-1999)

Under his leadership, the Center's financial and physical resources grew and the Center gained national and international recognition for raising ethics awareness and improving decision-making on campus and in the community at large through innovative campus programs and external partnerships with the Applied Ethics Center at O'Connor Hospital, the City of Santa Clara Ethics and Values Program, the Tech Museum of Innovation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the start-up Propel, the Character Based Literacy Program, and the Center's website, the Ethics Connection. 

His on-going partnership with the City of Santa Clara's Campaign Ethics and Vote Ethics Program has twice won the League of California's Helen Putnam Award for Excellence.  In 1999, the San Jose Mercury News named A.C. 'Mike' Markkula and Shanks to the "Millennium 100," approximately 100 people in the last 100 years "who helped make Silicon Valley what it is today and wrote, "As Executive Director from 1992-1999, Shanks elevated the (Ethics) Center to the region's standard bearer for teaching the value of ethical conduct, not only in high technology, but also in the health industry, government, banking, public policy, and other disciplines." 

Shanks is an expert in developing strengths-based, values-centered, and ethically-grounded organizations and has conduted hundreds of workshops in decision-making, developing and implementing ethics and values codes, conflict resolution, creative debate, and team-building.  He has extensive experience as a grant-seeker and a grant-maker, through his experience at the Markkula Center, with the Irvine Foundation Santa Clar University  Leaders for a Just World grant.  Most recently, he served as Interim Executive Director of the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation (Summer, 2007).

Jun 1990Aug 1995

College of Arts and Sciences

Senior Associate Dean  (1990-1995)

  • Invited to apply and was appointed to newly-established position of Senior Associate Dean (.5 FTE), became a member of the new College Executive Team with Dean Peter Facione and two Assistant Deans, and joined the new collaborative Chairs Council

  • while still serving as Department Chair, was asked to take on the new position of Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Over the next five years worked with the new Dean to turn 13 Departments into one collaborative College, and develop the first strategic plan for the College of Arts and Sciences

During the five years in the Dean's office:

  • Was responsible for faculty and staff resources, budgets, hiring, facilities, staff development, stewardship of outside grants from Foundations, oversight of the College's internal grants program for faculty research projects
  • Served as the College's liaison and problem-solver with the University fund-raisers, budget office, personnel, payroll, legal compliance, and human resources
  • Implemented a multi-year plan to transition part-time faculty to full-time positions
  • Removed the effect of gender from the college's salaries
  • Developed a fair process for course releases for department leaders and a budget-based revenue/expenditure model to recognize hard working departments and provide incentives to other departments to become greater contributors
  • Turned a money-losing summer school into a profit-Center for the College by doing what initially might appear to be counter-intuitive, i.e., lowering tuition, which made us competitive with the local junior colleges. Used this new revenue to expand grants for faculty research and special projects, with the Dean's office functioning as the granting agency: published grant criteria, worked with applicants, awarded grants, oversaw them, reviewed final projects, etc.
  • Completed a strategic facilities plan and a strategy to implement it. In 1999, the Dean's Office moved into the new Arts and Sciences Building, along with the Communication Department and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Today every Department in Arts and Sciences is in new or renovated facilities.


Sep 1978Sep 1985


Stanford University

Dissertation Title:  Viewer Attachment to Prime Time Television Entertainment Programs. (Stanford University, 1985). Advisers:  Dr. Donald Robets (director), Steven Chaffee, and William Paisley.

Communication is taught as a social science at Stanford.  This is a quantitative dissertation, based on a secondary analysis of a national dataset.  The dissertation tests the validity of a statistical measure of viewer attachment to individual favorite television programs.  

Jun 1977

Master of Divinity

Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley - Graduate Programsat Berkeley - Graduate Programs

Ordained a Roman Catholic priest, June, 1977 Fordham University, Bronx, New York.  Left active ministry in June, 1999.

Aug 1975

Master of Science

Master of Science in Education, Specialties  Secondary Education, Teaching of English

Jun 1971


Minored in English.

Big Ideas about Business



  • Senior executive, with the mind to make a positive difference in the lives of co-workers and communities, the heart to want to do so, and the experience to make it happen
  • Broad experience with non-profit organizations and foundations as a grant-seeker and grant-maker
  • Innovative thinker,  skilled at recognizing, developing, and supporting  "big idea" programs which respect individuals and advance the common good
  • Ethics and core values expert, skilled at creating codes and practical strategies for individuals and organizations to be at their best every day in their treatment of each other and the communities they serve
  • Approaches work with an entrepreneur's spirit, energy, and persistence
  • Life-long educator, continuous learner, skilled at creating learning organizations which inspire and encourage the best in everyone connected with them
  • Technology early adopter and optimist, with a strong belief that Internet technology and those skilled in using it can make unique and ground-breaking contributions to corporate philanthropy and volunteering at this difficult economic time
  • Experienced strategic planner and implementer, with a track record helping individuals and organizations be at their best every day with their mission, vision, and core values
  • Communication expert, skilled at dialog, creative debate, conflict resolution, group processes, consensus-building, sustainable decision-making, practical implementation, removing blocks and aligning programs with core values
  • Skilled creator of  "recognition cultures," which make it a habit to notice and thank individuals for ordinary and extraordinary contributions
  • Successful team-leader and team-player, who understands his and others' strengths, expert at building and contributing to teams that are values-centered, ethically-grounded, and effectively communicated and publicized


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