Client Spotlight: The International Institute of New England

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IINE photo
For many years, the International Institute of New England (IINE) has been standing on the shore to welcome new Americans, whether immigrants or refugees, with arms outstretched and resources to enable those who seek new homes to lead successful productive lives in their new country.

The mission of The International Institute is to help refugees and immigrants become active participants in the social, political, and economic richness of American life. Carolyn Benedict-Drew, the President and CEO, says that the mission of IINE is so important because it touches all of our lives, not just the clients the organization serves. She goes on to say new Americans add value to our communities as tax payers and productive workers. Civic responsibility is not taken lightly by the Institute’s clients, said Ms. Benedict-Drew, many of whom have fled their homes risking everything, including in many cases their lives, to pursue opportunities as new Americans.

Last year, the organization reached out to ESC of New England for assistance in creating a new strategic plan. Ms. Benedict-Drew said, “it was time”: many in the organization, including the board leadership, knew where IINE wanted to go, but needed first to build a stronger foundation and identity. Given the growing demand for immigration and refugee services, IINE needed to address the implications of how to grow the organization to meet the expanding need.

IINE interviewed a number of consulting groups but decided on ESC. Ms. Benedict-Drew says there were a few factors instrumental in the decision, including the credibility ESC had and the support it could provide in the strategic planning process. However Ms. Benedict-Drew, like many others, said it was the ESC Consultants who made the decision easy for IINE. The depth of knowledge, enthusiasm for the project, and experience they brought to an assessment visit was unlike others.

In 2013, ESC consultants began work on a strategic plan for the organization. The goal was that the plan would be a guide to ensure programs have outcomes aligned with the organization’s mission, objectives, and coordination of the action plan so they are mutually supportive of one another. Establishing the identity of the organization was essential in proceeding with the future goals. This was a careful process that was, as are all ESC engagements, individualized to address the unique needs of the organization.

Ms. Benedict-Drew said that the ESC consultants understood the complexities of the organization and that this resulted in a highly effective refinement of the organization’s mission. Throughout, the process was very collaborative, involving not only the board and organization leadership, but also the staff and clients of the organization. She credits the ESC consultants with “guiding them through the [strategic planning] process with elegance.”

The dedication of the Board and staff working, seamlessly with the ESC consultants, produced a strategic plan the truly reflects the aspirations of the International Institute.

If your nonprofit could benefit from affordable management consulting, please contact ESC’s Director of Consulting, Ulea Lago, at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550. We serve nonprofits in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and we offer a complimentary 2-hour assessment visit for all interested area nonprofits.

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Meet Our Consultants: Mike Stauff

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For 13 years ESC Consultant Mike Stauff has been transforming his community as a volunteer consultant. Mike joined ESC in 2001 and has since worked tirelessly to give back to over 50 organizations in New England. In a 2007 Business Week article he described himself as,“an inner city kid who made good” and decided to “give something back. Mike understands the challenges facing Greater Boston and this perspective has allowed him to be successful in helping nonprofit organizations become more sustainable and effective in meeting the needs of their constituencies.

After looking at a number of volunteer opportunities Mike was drawn to ESC, where he could utilize years of experience gained from his career as a Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of a startup organization that grew to approximately $250 million, and as Senior Vice President and CFO for a public high tech corporation. He says he didn’t want to volunteer on a one-time basis, he wanted to use his talent and experience to help nonprofits become more sustainable in reaching the constituents they serve, particularly in the areas of nonprofit strategic management, finance, and board governance. He appreciates and enjoys that he is able to work with a variety of nonprofits, and be exposed to different missions and causes. Among Mike’s most memorable consulting engagements are organizations that focus on family services, charter schools, health care, and day care services for both children and adults.

When asked how ESC has changed since he began as a consultant more than a decade ago, Mike believes it has evolved to be more diverse and inclusive. He speaks to the diversity of consultants, not only in race and gender but in experience, backgrounds, and consulting fields. The depth and variety of expertise ESC consultants have has continuously widened and deepened. He also speaks to how ESC has become more comprehensive and sophisticated in its services. He see this as positive and mutually beneficial allowing consultants to gain a deeper understanding and become more involved in the mission of the organization, imparting sustainable work for nonprofits. One thing however has remained the same and that is the extraordinary commitment of ESC consultants to each organization they work with. All have a genuine desire to see every organization grow and thrive, making a positive difference in the community.

Mike currently serves on the Board at Julie’s Family Learning Program. He attended Northeastern University, Boston Ma., where he earned a B.S.B.A. as an Accounting major and a M.B.A.