A speaker at the Rose Breakfast

Reflections on the Planning Journey

For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of serving as chair of the Rose Community Foundation Board of Trustees. It has been a remarkable and rewarding two years for me, and I think for all of us affiliated with this organization. My term, which comes to an end later this month, began just one month after Lindy Eichenbaum Lent took the reins as the Foundation’s new president and CEO in late 2017.  With a new leader at the helm, my fellow trustees and I were eager to develop a strategic plan to guide the Foundation’s work. We undertook this comprehensive effort this year, and as I look back on 2019, I see what a transformational journey it has been.

At the outset, my priority was speed and efficiency. Having been involved in and observed many nonprofit strategic planning efforts previously, I was attuned to the ways in which this could become a protracted process, and I had seen the challenges that can pose both internally and externally. When we heard from consultants and other foundations that 12 months was a possible but ambitious timeline, I adjusted my expectations. But I remained determined that we would meet the one-year deadline we set, because the end of planning is only the first milestone on a journey into the future.

Fast forward to today, December 2019, month 12 of our strategic planning work. We have reached enthusiastic agreement on the core elements of our organizational identity, the goals and strategies to which we will commit ourselves, and the resources we will dedicate to pursuing them. We are excited to share our new vision with the community in January. Along the way, I gained a newfound appreciation for the journey and process that got us to this point. We are an organization committed to serving this community for generations to come, currently operating in a time of rapid growth and evolution for the seven-county region we serve. It was important to take the time to zoom out and ask not just if we are doing the work right, but also if we are doing the right work. While I am delighted that we will conclude our planning work on schedule, I am ultimately even more gratified by the meaningful learning and reflection process we undertook together.

As I look back on 2019, I am grateful to my fellow board members for their engagement, for wrestling with challenging questions, and for their commitment to a future direction built on the strengths of our past, attuned to the challenges of today, and with adequate flexibility to evolve responsively. I am confident in the talent and commitment of the Foundation’s staff and leadership who are working to develop operational plans, and I am deeply appreciative of the guidance we received from our tireless consultants at TCC Group. Our strategic planning process depended on input from many people who generously gave of their time and perspective in focus groups, interviews and surveys. Their reflections helped us develop a new awareness of the ways our community is changing in composition and complexity.

It is energizing to reach this moment, with two significant upcoming milestones in January: the release of Rose Community Foundation’s 2020-2025 strategic plan and the beginning of my fellow trustee Steve Cohen’s term as board chair. As we enter a new year and a new chapter, I look forward to the work that is to come and the opportunity to continue serving this community today and into the future.

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