Leadership Team

Dr. Thomas Bigda-Peyton, Managing Partner

Thomas Bigda-Peyton is a consultant, researcher, and educator working across high-consequence industries such as aviation, healthcare, and workplace safety. As a practitioner-researcher for 25 years, and currently as President of Action Learning Systems in Boston, he has focused on widening and accelerating the pace of improvement in individual, organizational, and large-system change initiatives. Current programs include the We Don’t Compete on Safety Consortium (a development partnership between aviation and healthcare), the Health Transition Learning Partnership (an initiative designed to catalyze transformation in the Ontario healthcare system), and US 2025 (a program in the U.S. intended to dramatically reduce the cost of care in three states while making parallel improvements in quality, access to care, and patient safety). Tom holds a doctorate in Organizational Behavior and Intervention from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he worked with two pioneers in the field of organizational learning and system dynamics, Chris Argyris and Don Schon. He also holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from Harvard.

Dr. Martin Merry, Founding Partner

Martin Merry brings to his professional engagements a unique background of “Corporate America,” clinical practice and consulting/learning facilitation experience.   He received his undergraduate degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, based upon a unique “campus-factory shop floor” collaboration between Cornell and Corning, Inc.  He then earned his medical degree at McGill University in Montreal, subsequently completing residency training in internal medicine, with an additional year of psychiatry residency at Dartmouth and Albany Medical Centers. Dr. Merry then practiced general internal medicine for 8 years with a group practice founded by two Mayo Clinic-trained senior partners.  During these years he developed the role of Medical Director for Quality, the first designated medico-administrative position at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira, NY.

Building upon his medical practice and medical staff leadership experience in responding to both JCAHO and New York State regulation, Dr. Merry began in 1981 a career devoted to consultation and education in the areas of quality, medical staff leadership, and organizational transition.  Presently he has worked with more than 1000 health care organizations in all 50 United States and internationally.  Clients have included hospitals, physician group practices, managed care plans, multi-hospital systems, health care law firms, consulting firms involved in a variety of health management issues, the U.S. military health system (Project Director, US Department of Defense, Civilian External Peer Review Program, 1987-94), and JCAHO.  He has developed educational programs for the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American College of Physician Executives, the American College of Healthcare Executives, the American Medical Group Association, the Medical Group Management Association, the Veterans Administration, the Indian Health Service, the American Society for Quality and numerous state and regional professional associations. His practice keeps pace with vital issues emanating from the emergence of health care’s information and consumer revolutions. He is a recognized communicator of leading edge quality concepts for health care, including Six Sigma, Human Factors Science, ISO 9000 and Baldrige-based systems development.  His present areas of focus include governance and leadership issues of organizational transition, physician liaison and leadership development, integration of quality systems into health system/network development, and creative approaches to address the national issue of patient safety.

In addition to his consulting and educational work, Dr. Merry continues in his part-time positions as Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor of Health Management and Policy at the University of New Hampshire and Senior Advisor for Medical Affairs for the New Hampshire Hospital Association, a position created in 1994 to foster effective communication and collaboration between clinical and managerial professionals as they pursue health systems development.

In 1997 the American College of Physician Executives recognized Dr. Merry with its Rodney T. West Literary Achievement Award, citing his article, “Physician Leadership: The Time is Now!” as 1996′s “most significant literary contribution to the advancement of the medical management profession.”

Dr. Clarissa L. Sawyer, Partner

Clarissa Sawyer Ed.D. is an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant with over 15 years of professional experience in designing and implementing action learning projects which help organizations, teams, and individuals use their own experiences to identify, extend, and reuse best practices. Previous to this she was an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant for the MITRE Corporation where she provided services in organizational assessment and diagnosis, team development, strategic planning, qualitative research, and off-site design and facilitation to MITRE’s Center for Information and Technology (corporate communications, knowledge services, and information technology), Human Resources, and Legal and Contracts departments.

From 2001 to 2007 Dr. Sawyer provided organizational development services to all levels of leadership in the Federal Aviation Administration. Prior to a position with the FAA, Clarissa held consulting positions at Arthur D. Little, Fine Line Consulting, Manchester Consulting, and Ibis Consulting Group, co-founded by Meg Wheatley and Katherine Esty.  Her clients have included Warner Lambert (now Pfizer), Deloitte-Touche Tomatsu, Gillette, Morgan Stanley, and Aspect Medical Systems. She also has 20 years experience in higher education as an educator, researcher, counselor and administrator at institutions such as Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts-Boston

Clarissa has taught graduate level courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and qualitative research at Harvard University and organizational behavior and organization development consulting at Lesley University’s School of Management.  She has  developed teaching cases for Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and The New York Case Studies in Public Management series that describe innovative leadership strategies in higher education and two New York State agencies: the Department of Corrections, Division of Prison Industries, and the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

Clarissa has a doctorate from Harvard University in Administration, Planning and Social Policy, where she concentrated on leadership, and organizational behavior and intervention. Her dissertation examined the effective leadership strategies used by a first-time public university president during a period of financial crisis at the university. She also holds an Ed. M. from Harvard University and a B.A. in Adult Training and Development from the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

Video interview at Ryerson University in Ontario with Tom Bigda-Peyton, Managing Partner at Second Curve Systems.