Client Spotlight: Kidz B Kidz

What difference can a cookie make? Or a shower curtain? How about a bag of compost? Over the past six years, ESC client Kidz B Kidz has shown that these products, and many others, can make an incredible impact in the lives of children.  Founded in 2008, the agency was born out of a collaboration between Nancy Corderman, a textile and clothing designer, and Jan Weinshanker, who ran a ceramic dinnerware company, Droll Designs. The two artists bonded over personal medical experiences and a mutual desire to make an impact in the fight against cancer, and decided to marry their passion for art with a very serious mission of teaching empathy and raising money for medical research.

Kids B Kidz With art parties for children at the organization’s core, Jan and Nancy have led a movement where kids effectively learn, play, and practice empathy for hospitalized children, all the while creating art that can be made into various products like t-shirts, dinnerware, and hospital necessities.  “It’s a very simple idea, but no one had done it before,” Jan said.

As the organization has grown, its unique mission has catapulted Kidz B Kidz forward, but with success came challenges that the nonprofit’s board had trouble navigating on their own. Jan and Nancy reached out to ESC for consulting services in 2011. “We got ourselves into a position where we felt like we’d hit a wall,” Jan said. “We were finishing our third year, and it was like ‘What do we do now?’ There were so many aspects of the business that had to be dealt with and we weren’t sure where to go.”

Even the most successful companies and nonprofits can benefit from a neutral, outside team’s help. “Nancy and I have long backgrounds and careers, and that’s a strength and a weakness,” Jan said. When three ESC consultants began the engagement, they found that board governance was a topic that would need to be addressed. The Board, Jan said, was disorganized and met irregularly; a sense of unity and commitment among members was lacking. The team decided to pose a serious question to all board members : Where does this organization make sense in your life, and what does your commitment look like?

Jan said the ESC team’s “straight-forwardness and gentle demeanor” throughout the process facilitated growth in a very positive way. Following this consulting project, Jan noted several positive changes rooted in better board governance including improved meeting regularity, communication, and recruitment. “The things that we’ve learned and the knowledge that was brought to us has really kept us on track for success,” Jan said. “We were very happy to work with ESC. This engagement let us know how much we’re able to accomplish.”

Since completion of ESC’s consulting project, Kidz B Kidz has expanded nationally and holds programs in five major children’s hospitals. The organization continues to grow its product line, recently developing a partnership with Brick Ends Farm Compost that features Kids B Kitz artwork, which generates funds that go directly to pediatric medical research. Through it all, Jan affirmed that ESC helped Kidz B Kidz direct its growth while maintaining the nonprofit’s mantra: powered by kids, mentored by adults.

Meet Our Consultants: Ashok Boghani

Ashok Boghani has worked extensively in the field of consulting, first at Arthur D. Little and most recently at the Monitor Group.  After getting his doctorate in engineering at MIT, and working several years in R&D, Dr. Boghani transitioned to providing management consulting services to both public and private sector organizations.

“I have certainly been able to use my experience as a strategy consultant to look systematically at the challenges faced by our clients,” he said. “Although the organizations I work with at ESC are smaller compared to the ones I used to consult for, the issues they face are very often similar. For example, looking at the future and figuring out what decisions need to be made to correctly position themselves moving forward.”  Ashok’s specialty is helping organizations develop multiple scenarios of the future, identifying the best position for the organization in each future scenario, and developing strategies to get there from where they are now.

Although he had left his primary career, Ashok knew he wanted to continue using his experience and expertise to help others:  “ESC has allowed me to leverage my experience for causes I believe in. I was looking at potential opportunities to give back to society and at the same time provide intellectual challenges.” He continued, “I was on the board of one non-profit and helping a couple of startups in the social entrepreneur sector. However, that was not enough.  Then I found ESC I am delighted that I did and have become a part of its consulting practice.”

Working as part of a team has been of particular enjoyment for Ashok, and is seen by many consultants to be a great benefit of ESC. “I have worked with some very smart consultants from who I can learn a lot,” he said. “I have met interesting people at client organizations—often coming from a variety of different backgrounds. This is important to me, as I consider collecting experiences a more meaningful activity than collecting money. So, ESC has made me richer.”

Ashok expressed how meaningful his consulting engagements have been at ESC, saying “As an immigrant, I owe a lot to the US in general, and Boston in particular for giving me a comfortable life. Now it is time to give back!”

In addition to consulting at ESC, Dr. Boghani currently advises start-ups, both non-profit and for profit, and is actively involved with TiE, an organization devoted to fostering entrepreneurship. He is a Charter Member Emeritus of the Boston chapter of TiE and currently serves on its board.

Encore Fellows: Now in Boston!

A New Source of Talent for Nonprofits– Encore Fellows Program: Now in Boston!

As nonprofits continually strive to meet a growing demand for services at a time of diminishing resources, an innovative solution successfully employed across the US has come to greater Boston: The Encore Fellowships Program– a source of highly skilled and experienced talent now available to take on high impact work assignments at an affordable cost — designed to meet the unique challenges of nonprofits in areas such as strategy development, marketing, fundraising, human resources, business development, program development and technology.

ESC of New England (ESCNE), a nonprofit organization providing management consulting and capacity building services to other nonprofits, has been selected as regional operator for the national Encore Fellows Program.  Designed to deliver a new source of talent to nonprofits solving critical social problems and contributing to the quality of life in local communities this program helps social purpose organizations by matching skilled, experienced professionals and managers who are generally transitioning from a primary career. Fellowship assignments are typically 1000+ hours over either 6 months full-time or 12 months part-time. The cost to sponsor a Fellow is $25,000.

Nonprofits hosting a Fellow gain affordable, low-risk access to experienced, skilled talent carefully matched to the specific assignment.  Fellows earn a stipend of $20,000, increase their knowledge about social-purpose work, and develop a network of contacts and resources for future engagement –potentially an “encore career” in the nonprofit sector.

Bethany Kendall, President & CEO of ESCNE said, “Expanding our portfolio to now include the Encore Fellows Program allows us to offer high level talent in additional roles beyond consulting and professional development to help nonprofits affordably build capacity. We are very excited to have been designated to regionally operate this program and so pleased to have the first two Boston Encore Fellows on board to help build ESCNE’s new programs!”

Donna Morelle is Boston’s first Encore Fellow.  In her “encore”, Donna became a consultant at ESCNE 18 months ago and then recently transitioned into the new role of Program Director for the Encore Fellowships Program. In her primary career as an educator, she became the first female Superintendent of Schools in Cumberland, RI and was widely known for her support of “100% of the students, 100% of the time. During her tenure, she collaborated to develop new literacy programs resulting in significant increases in student learning, introduced zero-based budgeting and helped co-found Town Wide  Learning Community, a grassroots effort to strengthen learning for all students and residents. Donna

MORE

holds a Doctorate in Education from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and is an entrepreneurial leader with practical experience bringing programs from concept to scale. This has been a transition that combines Donna’s talents for executive leadership, program development and thought leadership.

“ESCNE is a recognized leader, and the Encore Fellows program offers a proven model for delivering high impact, capacity building assignments and investment in the local nonprofit community,” said Leslye Louie, National Director, Encore Fellowships Network. “The program has expanded rapidly across the US in the past five years and is represented in 35 metropolitan areas.  We are thrilled to now have greater Boston included in our network.”

Beginning in Silicon Valley, CA in 2009, where Fellows in that area have delivered over 70,000 hours of high impact work to nonprofits, they are also credited with serving as role models and mentors to staff through their analytical thinking, management and operational expertise. Currently over 250 Fellows are placed nationally. It is a competitive process for both Fellows and the nonprofits seeking to fill a fellowship position.

ESC of New England, a charitable nonprofit was founded in 1982. Its 150 pro bono consultants provide management consulting and related services in all areas of governance and management including executive coaching and professional development to nearly 100 other nonprofits annually in MA and RI.

Encore.org, founded by social entrepreneur Marc Freedman, is building a movement to make it easier for millions of people to pursue second acts for the greater good. “We call them “encore careers” – roles that combine personal meaning, social impact and often continued income – in the second half of life,” said Marc. “Through an inventive program portfolio, original research, strategic alliances and the power of people’s life stories, Encore.org demonstrates the value of experience in solving society’s greatest problems – from education to the environment, health care to homelessness.”

Nonprofits interested in hosting Fellows, companies and foundations interested in sponsorship, and individuals interested in becoming Fellows can learn more about the program and register for one of the scheduled information sessions at http://www.escne.org or contact Donna Morelle, Director, Boston Encore Fellows Program at dmorelle@escne.org for specific information about the benefits of participation and the convenient online application process. Sessions for prospective Fellows have been scheduled for 9:30 AM Wednesdays in August and September beginning August 13 and for nonprofits will be held on Thursdays at 8:30 AM beginning August 14 at the ESCNE office in Boston. There is no cost to attend, however pre-registration is required.

The Encore Fellowships Network is a signature program of Encore.org. For more information about the Encore Fellowships Network, visit http://www.encore.org/fellowships.

###