Tagged retreats

Give praise for Community Development Corporations

CDCs rock! Many of these community benefit nonprofits take big risks to create healthy, safe, affordable homes and rebuild neighborhoods. You can read more about the history and work of CDCs in Comeback Cities, by Paul Grogan now the CEO of The Boston Foundation.

When CDCs work well, they demonstrate what is right with this sector. They are embedded in community, asking questions, responding to need, engaging residents. They exemplify the word partnership, making change happen through a complicated set of relationships and interactions with national powerhouses like Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and NeighborWorks(R) America, local for-profit lenders, public planning departments, sister organizations, community members, local public servants like the police, and more.

I’m in awe of their knowledge, commitment and ability to make big change happen.

I’m singing the praises of CDCs coming off five hours yesterday facilitating a strategic planning retreat with the Board and staff of Community Works Rhode Island, an affiliate of  NeighborWorks America.

Staff and board committees have been meeting and thinking over the last few months and this was an opportunity to come together and synthesize the work that has been done to date. For me, it is always a pleasure to work with caring, really smart, fun and engaged boards and staff, so thank you.

And WOW for their commitment — meeting together on a Friday afternoon till 8:00 in the evening. (I don’t know about you, but I do my best to avoid work on Friday nights).

There are a still a few more details before the plan is finished, but this organization already knows how to think and act strategically which is what ultimately matters.

Did I mention Community Work’s commitment to change that transforms communities? That word, transform, is in their mission statement and they take it seriously.

What’s as impressive is that this organization is the child of a recent merger between the Elmwood Foundation and Greater Elmwood Neighborhood Services. Based in the Elmwood neighborhood of Providence, both CDCs have worked in Providence’s Southside for more than 30 years, creating close to 1,000 units of affordable housing and investing more than $60 million in the community. Kudos once again to my friend and colleague MJ Kaplan of Kaplan Consulting LLC for guiding these groups through the merger and for lining up a really stellar board.

Next for me, typing up those flip charts (not my favorite task) and merging all the details on paper into a written framework that reflects all the smart and truly strategic thinking that went on last night. Then guiding this phase of planning to its conclusion.

On retreats

For everyone who has sat through a retreat, and because today was the day of her birth, a quote from Emily Post

“Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory.”