About Brian

Brian Fraser provokes nonprofits to flourish. He has been walking the talk in creating thriving nonprofit organizations for over 40 years, one conversation after another. His expertise as an executive director, board member, and thought leader in the nonprofit sector found an innovative and engaging lens when he founded Jazzthink and started to think in jazz about this work in 2002. When he speaks, consults, facilitates, and coaches, Brian always brings the wit, wisdom, and workings of jazz into the conversation. He has developed a new acronym for SMART that helps his audiences and clients improvise with the 5 essential conversations (Soulful, Mindful, Astute, Responsible, Trusting) that create flourishing nonprofits. The more you practice and play these conversations, the SMARTer your nonprofit will become.

Brian’s roots are in faith-based nonprofits. Throughout his university years, he ministered with Presbyterian congregations in Ontario. In 1985, he was appointed dean of St. Andrew’s Hall, the Presbyterian college at the University of British Columbia, and professor of history at Vancouver School of Theology, focusing on the dynamics of effective leadership and organizational development. He created and supported the space in which both staff and board took the Hall from a 40-room dorm with a $130,000 annual budget to a residence complex and educational institution with a $1.6 million annual budget. Brian was the founder of the Elder’s Institute, a national leadership training program for those who govern and serve Presbyterian congregations and courts in Canada. In 2002, Brian left the university to establish Jazzthink, where he uses the wit, wisdom, and workings of jazz to provoke SMARTer conversations that generate flourishing communities. Brian continues to practice the arts of nonprofit leadership as part-time minister with Brentwood Presbyterian Church in Burnaby, BC, and serves on nonprofit boards dealing with social enterprise and professional speaking.

He is a graduate of the Royal Roads University executive coaching program, holds the International Coach Federation’s Professional Certified Coach designation, and teaches a coaching skills course for nonprofit leaders at Douglas College in Coquitlam, BC.

Audiences and clients appreciate his understanding of their needs and potential, the wisdom he brings to their situations, his inspiring and informing sessions, his effective facilitation, and the results they achieve when they implement the possibilities that Jazzthink provokes for them, one conversation after another.

Brian is an avid golfer, trains for and runs half-marathons, reads murder mysteries, and delights in family and friends. He and his wife, Jill, enjoy healthy food, good wine, vigorous walks, and provocative conversations, usually with jazz playing in the background.


These are the people, organizations, and professional associations that stimulate and refine my approach to SMARTer teamwork. Visit, engage, or join them. You'll be positively provoked.