Monday, October 12, 2009

The Reading List: Inclusiveness

Want to learn more about Inclusiveness? Check out these resources.

Inclusiveness at Work: How to Build Inclusive Nonprofit Organizations (extensive narrative and worksheets):

Inside Inclusiveness: Race, Ethnicity, and Nonprofit Organizations:

Extensive links for resources related to inclusiveness from

Bibliography for the Nonprofit Inclusiveness website:

Inclusiveness and the Colorado Common Grant Application (page 20):

Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program: Q&A with Lindsey Hodel

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, CRC’s acclaimed Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program provides innovative leadership and management training for executive directors of Colorado nonprofit organizations.

CRC interviewed Lindsey Hodel, class of 2009 participant.

Lindsey Hodel, Organizing Director, Colorado Progressive Coalition
Colorado Progressive Coalition is a statewide, member-driven organization that has engaged communities to advance economic and social justice since 1996. Organized around five program areas: Racial Justice & Civil Rights; Health Care for All; Economic Justice; Statewide Base Building; and Civic Engagement; CPC advocates at the local, state, and national levels on issues that affect people of color, low-income neighborhoods, immigrants, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community, and young people.

How have you become a better leader as a result of your participation in CRC’s Leadership Program?
The Community Resource Center’s Leadership Program helped me connect to a truly statewide network of nonprofit leaders. Many organizations and programs strive to be representative and inclusive of the entire state, but few actually manage to make that happen. Too often political and state decisions are made in Denver, leaving the rest of the state out of critical policy change and advocacy efforts. I had the chance to meet leaders from Yuma, Hotchkiss, Ouray, Sterling, Steamboat Springs, and most regions in between. I was impressed by the geographic diversity present in the program, and the broad range of experiences, missions, and communities represented.

I have also gained financial management and fundraising expertise that are necessary skills for any nonprofit leader. The program also helped, and in some ways forced, me to slow down, reflect on my strengths and weaknesses, and recognize the unique skills and passions I have to offer. In particular, I am now able to communicate more fully my communication and leadership styles, and find new ways to value my own approach as well as others’. I am leaving the program with a robust and impressive statewide network, a more developed support system, and many lifelong friends.

What specific technical or management skills have you learned and implemented within your organization?
I oversee Colorado Progressive Coalition’s statewide program work, but do not bottom-line budget and fundraising efforts. Because of new skills and knowledge of financial and fundraising skills, I am able to provide much more support to CPC’s Executive Directors and Development Director. I feel I am strong running and implementing programs, and now I carry more confidence (and appreciation!) when managing internal organizational budgets and fundraising. I also possess a new toolbox of awareness and language around communication and leadership styles individuals bring to our organization, and can better facilitate team projects and staff leadership development. Lastly, through developing an awareness of my own strengths and limitations, I have grown much more patient when working in diverse coalitions, managing conflict, and delegating leadership. I have noticed I listen much more actively and have found new ways to assume leadership in a democratic manner.

What was your greatest “take away” from the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s Executive Leadership experience?
My greatest takeaway was that even though leadership can often be isolating and lonely, many nonprofit leaders face very similar struggles and challenges. I learned to have the courage to open up to others for help, for guidance, and support. In turn, I believe I have found better ways to offer that support to others as well. I often struggle with being my own worst critic, and not allow myself room to make mistakes and learn from them. The retreat was a much-needed space of support for this process. Finally, I often struggle with moving too fast to appreciate the experience I am gaining, trying to do too much and multi-task, and realized I severely needed more life/work balance if I am going to be a part of a social justice movement for the long haul. At the conclusion of the outdoor retreat, I felt refreshed, healthier, and happier, and realized I needed to work harder on achieving this balance to feel satisfied, and to know I am doing the best work I can possibly do.

What personal insights have you made because of your participation in CRC’s Leadership Program coaching component?
We are just beginning the coaching experience. I am really looking forward to getting the support, encouragement, and fresh ideas that I will need to balance my personal and professional lives in a more healthy way.

Do you have other thoughts or comments you would like to make about your experience?
I represented one of the few advocacy-based nonprofits in the program, and was initially concerned that issues facing service-based groups may not apply to me. What I found was the exact opposite. Being in a room with a completely fresh network and brand new people whom I had never worked with was the best thing I could have asked for. I hope I can continue to foster and build the relationships I gained through this experience, create new alliances, and offer more support to rural communities in Colorado. I learned much about the issues and struggles rural communities in Colorado are facing, and believe I have new insights in bridging the gap between a mostly Denver-based advocacy movement and rural communities who often are the hardest hit by social, economic, and political policies and decisions. I carry a strong vision of building a truly statewide movement that is inclusive of every urban and rural community in the state, and have a vision of those on the front line – nonprofits providing necessary services to rural communities – possessing more political power and influence for change. Because of this vision, I have launched a formalized program within Colorado Progressive Coalition providing Technical Assistance to service providers on nonpartisan civic engagement and advocacy strategies. Service providers have the most trusting relationship with their clients and constituents, and are powerful political forces when that base is mobilized for change.

Would you recommend the Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program to other ED’s across CO? If so, why?
Absolutely! It was sometimes difficult to manage the priority of personal leadership development and just getting the work done day to day. But, I firmly believe the best leaders are those who are reflective, self-critical, and seek self-improvement. Every movement needs leaders, and without passionate and humbled leadership, change is not possible. Being a leader to me is not about being in charge. It’s about motivating others to work hard, to succeed, and to love life while doing it. I am inspired to more often remember the best leaders are not those who say “here I am,” but those who say “there you are.” Thank you Community Resource Center for offering me an opportunity to actualize the kind of leadership of which I can be proud and reflects my values!

The program fills quickly so apply now if you are interested! For more information, please visit or call Carol Crawford at 303.623.1540 x13.

Lessons from the Field: Inclusiveness

Article contributed by Mike Johnson, Executive Director of Project PAVE

I came to Project PAVE (Promoting Alternatives to Violence through Education) in June 2006. I had spent 30 years in corporate America prior to that. During my corporate tenure, I attended several training sessions addressing Diversity, Racial Awareness, and White Privilege. Over time, you might notice a change in personnel, such as more women or more persons of color, but I did not seem to notice a change in the culture. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but then I am a white male.

Previous to coming to PAVE, I had been part of a learning group called “Just Faith.” The study and focus of the group was centered on Social Justice. We spent 32 weeks looking at Poverty, Racism, Institutional Racism and a multitude of issues, which facilitate the imbalance of power in the world. One of the key pillars of social justice is ‘subsidiarity’ or the intentional effort to ensure that the people who will be most impacted by a decision have the greatest say in forming the decision. On the surface this appeared to be very logical; however, as I looked at my own behavior and experience I came to see this was very different.

During my first couple of weeks at PAVE, I spent a lot of time looking into the priorities and issues facing the Agency. One item I came across was The Denver Foundation’s Expanded Non-Profit Inclusiveness Initiative, a two-year grant to PAVE. I was excited to think we had an opportunity to be part of such a noble program. I thought I had something I would feel really comfortable with but over the next two years the feeling changed dramatically.

I approached our Staff and Board to form an Inclusiveness Committee, which would be the catalyst for the transformation of self, and the Agency. At that time, the Staff and Board had done an excellent job holding things together but problems had surfaced. There was more than one person who felt I had my priorities a little mixed up because the Agency had been operating with more than one critical position vacant. We were in the red in June 2006, and by the end of the year, we were $120K in the red. Morale was suffering, and there was concern over our community involvement and whether or not our programs were stable and consistent with our mission. These were obvious priorities, so we were faced with a decision of whether we give the grant back or move forward with what were obviously pressing issues.

There was something that kept coming back to us, however, and that is, Inclusiveness is not an agenda item, it is not just some big project that appears also to be well meaning. It is a life style, and for an organization, it is a new way of “doing business.” It wasn’t something we would start and in 2 years be finished. We started to come to the realization that Inclusiveness was the solution to achieving our priorities. We wanted to create a culture that people would feel good about being a part of. So we began our journey.

At first, it was very slow as we began to gather data on the Agency, Board and the community we served. We started to look at ourselves and began to overhaul our internal processes. We conducted training and sessions that revealed our own blind spots. Things we each assumed to be the “truth” became open to new possibilities. New opportunities started to open up for the people to be heard and enable them to be part of the solution.

Simple solutions started to be realized for what appeared to be complex problems. Implementing a process where no more money would be sought unless the Development and Program departments agree on strategic alignment, risk and value. This eliminated conflicts between individuals. Language for grants, marketing policies and operational infrastructure were all aligned with PAVE’s mission.

Our mission became the cornerstone in every aspect of our journey.

PAVE’s mission is to empower youth to end the cycle of relationship violence. We serve 4 to 24 year old children, teens and young adults impacted by domestic violence, sexual abuse and relationship violence. Our programs take two paths: Intervention/Counseling services and Prevention/Education services. We provide services at the Agency, as well as in the schools of the Denver metro community. Our ‘Inclusiveness’ journey has allowed us to make great strides in making our programs much stronger in realizing our mission.

We continually involve the people and community we serve in deciding what our programs should look like. This involves students, parents, teachers, business and faith based leaders. Getting ourselves out of the way and putting the people most impacted in the decision-making role has led to greater impacts and sustainable programs.

So, what has the journey provided in terms of measurable accomplishments? As stated before, PAVE had a $120K deficit at the end of 2006. At the end of 2007 the Agency was $140K in the black, a $260K swing in 18 months. In 2008, PAVE served more clients than in any of the previous two years. Each member of the Board serves on at least one committee and volunteer involvement has increased each year. Our programs have become stronger and have received national recognition. In August of 2009, Project PAVE was recognized by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce as “The Small Non-Profit of the Year”.

Then there are the intangible improvements. Each Staff member realizes the opportunity for personal and professional improvement. Personal transformation is embraced, and some level of discomfort is expected; however, when decisions are made, one of the first questions asked is who is not at the table that should be. The diversity of the team continues to change and the culture being created brings each person’s uniqueness and skills into play.

We understand the difference between Diversity and Inclusiveness. It is like comparing content to context. You can change the makeup of a team (content) but unless you create an intentional practice of fostering an atmosphere that is open and supportive to the full array of life experiences, backgrounds, and points of view, your culture will be to tough to change (context).

I would summarize my own transformation in one statement. I don’t know and I don’t have the answers. As a community, however, we can learn, grow and actually realize the change we dream about.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where in Colorado? October

Win CRC's toolkit, Fundraising: Essential Strategies for Fundraising Success During an Economic Downturn

Each month, we feature a photo taken during our travels around Colorado. Last month, we featured this photograph. No one was able to correctly identify September's photo from one of CRC's 2009 Rural Philanthropy Days region.

Take a guess for this month's "Where in Colorado?" photo.