In 2014, with fair amounts of turn-over due to board term limits, and having recently appointed new officers, The Charlottesville Free Clinic Executive Director (Erika Viccellio) and Board Chair (Todd Cabell) chose to participate in CNE’s Board Academy as a team. Together, they attended in-depth sessions on governance matters, including strategy, fiscal and fundraising responsibilities, and more. They left with a strengthened understanding of their shared but unique roles as leaders of the organization, and were able to jointly present their tnext steps for the board to adopt with respect to committee roles and member responsibilities.
[The Board Academy] confirmed a lot of things we’d been doing well, but also highlighted some great tactically specific ideas as far as the role of board chair and parts of the governance committee. The Board Academy provided ideas and practice for working with large, diverse groups of people.
Before taking advantage of CNE’s Leadership Circles, peer-learning experiences for The Free Clinic’s lead staff were less formalized and took place among existing networks. Through the monthly, ongoing facilitated sessions, staff in leadership roles at the Clinic developed new peer support systems to discuss emerging trends and strategies, and make progress in their roles. Participating in CNE’s Executive Circle for over five years has had a “broad impact on all areas of leadership” for former Executive Director, Erika Viccellio. For Kathryn Cross, The Clinic’s former Director of Development and Marketing, the Philanthropy Circle provided exposure to best practices in marketing and communications, and allowed her to balance these roles with her development responsibilities. Through their involvement in these Circles, lead staff at the Free Clinic gained direct access to an ongoing, strong support network for their personal professional development, which has had valuable impact on their roles at the organization.
I could read all the books in the world about [development], but it makes such a difference to be in the same room with people wresting with the same issues and identifying people in the community I could turn to again later on for resources.
[My participation in the Executive Circle] led to more inspired leadership–either because of the new information I’ve gained, or for the thrill of learning and knowing that there is the opportunity to keep growing. CNE is here for leaders in the community, and emerging leaders, here for the organizations and the sector, and really elevates and professionalizes the whole sector. You make us all better at what we do.
Staff Professional Development
Even if I’m the only one going to the training, I can take it back to others at the organization, and they can incorporate what they want into their work. That’s how the organization grows.
The outcome of the Survey Development Series for me is that I became better informed. Our surveys are explicitly tied to what our organizational goals are. It’s now less by accident and more purposeful.
CoLab with the Mental Health & Wellness Coalition
Prior to CNE’s involvement, the Mental Health & Wellness Coalition needed to set a concrete strategic direction and create a plan for demonstrating performance to stakeholders. Across a year of facilitated consultations with CNE and Partnerships for Strategic Impact, the coalition left with strengthened capacity for strategy and governance, increased participation from members, and a fully fleshed-out plan for gathering data to demonstrate collective impact.
After five years of work together, this pilot with CNE came at a critical time for the coalition. It allowed us to refocus our strategy, re-engage our membership and develop a collective plan for measuring community impact. The pilot project anchored us. The MHWC is better positioned now to deliver on our community goals and to achieve meaningful impact in the community because of our partnership with CNE.