Case Story

Piedmont Housing Alliance

Piedmont Housing Alliance‘s mission is to create housing opportunities and build community through education, lending and development.

Board Reforms

Prior to engaging with CNE on board enhancement, Piedmont Housing Alliance had a long-serving board and needed to better balance the roles of the executive and board in the leadership of the organization.  Through both facilitated group and individual consultations with CNE and PHA’s board and lead staff, the organization adopted a definition of a high-impact board that was incorporated into their strategic plan goals. With CNE’s guidance, PHA recruited new board members utilizing best practice tools and vetting procedures, and now has a revitalized board with 50% new members, and 100% giving. Additional reforms include a review of the organization’s bylaws and new reporting structures to increase transparency for the board. Through these improvements, a more balanced partnership exists between PHA’s Executive Director and the board.

CNE had a big impact on the leadership of the board, the processes we use for board recruitment, and the standards we set for board giving. CNE was a part of our strategic planning process, which was the spur for the changes we implemented. In the years that we received your help, we achieved our goals for the board. What CNE delivered to the board fundamentally changed the relationship that I inherited between the executive and the board. No question about it- and it fit nicely.

Frank Grosch, Executive Director

Mentoring at Executive Director Level

Several years ago, Piedmont Housing Alliance hired an executive director with a background in business leadership. He was new to the nonprofit sector and to the role of the executive director within it. Through consultations with CNE, he became grounded in his role as the leader of the organization, in his relationship with the board, and solidified his understanding of the local sector.

Before coming to Piedmont Housing Alliance, I had a lot of business and no not for profit experience. Now, I’m finding my way to becoming an effective nonprofit leader. It’s largely because of the resources at CNE, because of the relationship with people there and the mentoring I’ve received.  Personally, CNE has helped me to make that transition to nonprofit, and to begin to understand the culture. I received individual consultations three or four times in my tenure. It was really important to me.

Frank Grosch, Executive Director

Expertise Development

Before participating in the Survey Series, PHA was in need of a more robust system for collecting data on the impact of their programs.  Through the advanced program, they refined their client survey and developed a concrete process for distributing it and analyzing the data. They are now able to utilize the data to improve programs and client service, and utilize success stories in their grant writing and marketing. Additionally, they are now better able to motivate their team and create a positive culture surrounding customer service through the recognition of individual staff contributions.

Before the class, our client survey was general and was sent to just a subset of clients. We did other surveys periodically but they weren’t standardized and there was no master collection/analysis process. PHA participated in one of CNE’s Advanced programs – the Survey Development Series. As a result of our participation in the CNE’s Survey Development classes, Piedmont Housing Alliance has been able to institute an agency-wide Outcome Measurement and Program Evaluation Plan. With improved surveys and survey protocols, we are getting real-time data from our clients that we are using to improve and refine our services and recognize staff’s excellent service. The class also gave us the tools to clearly identify our programmatic goals and how to achieve them. This series is a terrific investment for any organization.

Karen Reifenberger, Chief Operating Officer

Staff Professional Development

Director-level staff and rising leaders at Piedmont Housing Alliance have taken advantage of multiple leadership development opportunities which has enhanced their capacity to contribute to the organization. Through Leadership Circles, staff have gained access to the latest news and trends, as well as a strong and ongoing peer support network. Other staff have also taken advantage of the Management Academy to enhance their knowledge of core nonprofit functions and to explore additional roles they can take on at their organizations. Through participating in the Academy, they have gained the skills to take on greater responsibility with current projects and have also taken the lead on new initiatives. These opportunities, when offered from executives to rising leaders at their organizations has also boosted staff morale and prepared participants to take on additional leadership roles.

Our Director of Development is participating in the Philanthropy Circle which is huge for us since we have a one-person marketing, communications, and development position. Through the Circle, she is able to access resources and expertise from other organizations. And I’ve been involved in the emerging leaders circle- which has been really help for mid management- where your managing others, and also managing up. What we’ve gained has been incredibly important for our personal professional development.

Karen Reifenberger, Chief Operating Officer

The resources and speakers for every seminar that I attended were all amazing and all provided practical applications. The workshops helped me better understand the nonprofit world and my organization as a whole. I can get bogged down in the details, but this program gave me a greater understanding of the overall picture.

Sarah Brazelton, Housing Counselor

Overall Strengthening at Every Level

From participating in the Board Academy and Governance & Board Leadership workshop, to individual leadership consultations and Leadership Circle participation, to taking advantage of the Management Academy and CNE workshops, Piedmont Housing Alliance has helped to develop board members, the executive director, and lead and management staff. This has resulted in both broad and deepened agency-wide impact at every level of the organization.

We’ve had board members go through the Board Academy as well as the Governance & Board Leadership workshops. They understand what it means to be a board member, they understand the shift from governance to support in their volunteer capacity–because they’ve been through the CNE programming. They also have the confidence because of the knowledge that came from the Board Academy and Workshops. We are slowly building a cadre of CNE trained board members.

Frank Grosch, Executive Director

CNE programming is strengthening what we do at each level. We can talk about the specifics of the high impact board, the specifics of the technical assistance for the Executive Director and the relationship with the board–the impact of the survey development course and how important that’s been institutionally for our program improvement, our staff motivation, our client service and our marketing. Having CNE as a resource has been huge for us.

Karen Reifenberger, Chief Operating Officer