Our Team

Dr. Byron Harrell, FACHE(ret)

Dr. Harrell is the Founder (2006) and Managing Partner of Philoptima Consulting. He advises private foundations on the power of strategic philanthropy, measurement, and system design. His clients include nonprofit hospitals converting assets into the corpus of a private foundation known as “health legacy” foundations. Byron is author of “Supercharged Giving: The Professional’s Guide to Strategic Philanthropy” (Amazon) and “Size Matters: Why Large Foundations Fail” (Philanthropy Magazine). Harrell has facilitated dozens of board and staff retreats for private foundations seeking a tighter linkage between their mission and what they actually do. Byron served 24 years as President/CEO of a large medical center that ultimately became a large private foundation located in New Orleans. He is a past Chairman of the Southeastern Council of Foundations headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Currently a board member of the new $1.3 billion academic medical center being built to replace Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Harrell is Chairman of its Academic Advisory Committee which links the hospital to the educational and research missions of two medical schools. Harrell holds a Doctor of Science degree from Tulane University with a focus on organizational behavior. He holds a Master of Science degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from West Texas State University (now part of the Texas A&M system).

In his spare time, Dr. Harrell and his wife own a tree farm, grow blueberries, raise honey bees, and fish on the family farm in rural Mississippi.


Shirin E. Harrell, RN, MBA, JD

Co-Partner and General Counsel

Shirin Harrell is a Founding Partner in Philoptima Consulting. She holds a Juris Doctorate degree from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University and is a practicing attorney before all Louisiana state courts and all federal courts. Shirin also holds an MBA degree from Tulane University and is an accomplished business executive and investor. She is a Registered Nurse having earned her undergraduate nursing degree fromSimmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. Shirin has extensive business management and marketing experience as a senior officer of a large, life & health insurance company with interstate and international responsibilities for health products. She is also an experienced entrepreneur with start-up skills, and she has held other senior corporate leadership roles in marketing, strategic planning, public relations, and new product development.


Thomas E. Harmeyer

Senior Consultant

Thomas Harmeyer is a Senior Consultant with Philoptima Consulting. He is also the Executive Director of the Central Louisiana Community Foundation in Alexandria, Louisiana, where he has led Its emergence since 2009 as a force for regional advancement through inspired philanthropy. Since 1985, Tom has consulted across the Gulf South, serving foundations and other nonprofit organizations both large and small in defining, pursuing and communicating their missions; developing effective programs that meet critical needs; building, retaining and maximizing volunteer and staff engagement; and funding day-to-day operations as well as transformational initiatives. Tom is well versed in the big issues of philanthropy, but also brings the nut-and-bolts sensibility of a long-time practitioner.


Other Team Members

Philoptima Consulting affiliates with other experienced consulting talent is such areas as community assessments, surveys, technology, media and advocacy as appropriate for our client.