A Few of my Favorite Things …An Ode to Minneapolis/St Paul = Verse 1 Non Profits

I thought about titling this post “The Best of….” but realized that I am a sample size of one and as such it would be ridiculous for me to claim that any of these are “the best” from a purely statistical stand point. Then I realized, when in doubt, lean on The Sound of Music and … this blog post was born.

Over the last month, my routine has changed dramatically and its opened up whole new worlds of appreciation to me. I’d love to share my favorites with you! (by category and with links so that you can check them out as well!)


Market Based Strategy – I am helping Lutheran Social Service – LSS (Maureen Warren and Laura Blue) think through a market entry strategy to Rochester/Olmstead County.  LSS has always done a great job of service based strategies (adoption, immigrants, etc) but hasn’t had the opportunity to look at their business from a holistic market perspective.  Rochester/Olmstead is growing and LSS needs a presence in order to help support that growth.  Its fun to take their traditional methodologies and tip them on their side to create a new view and possibility for LSS.

Local to National ReachThe Jeremiah Program has an audacious goal to take their amazing 2 generation out of poverty model national. This means 300x growth in the next few years. In order to grow responsibility, it meant they needed to expand their operations and double down on operational leadership.  I am working with Jess Lehman, their new COO, to envision what their new routines, processes, measures and metrics will be. We meeting weekly and its fun to riff off her ideas for the women and children they support.

Piloting Community LeadershipThe United Way is piloting a new skills based leadership model with 5 nonprofits, 5 corporations, 5 mentors and 25 emerging leaders.  I am so excited to be a mentor for one of the cohorts.  The cohort teams (5 leaders) will work with a nonprofit for 3 months on a strategic project. The cohorts will get leadership and cultural training while the nonprofits get exposure to emerging leaders.  Win/Win… Speaking of….

Local Nonprofit – My United Way mentor project supports PRISM. I LOVE this because PRISM is 1/2 mile from my house and an amazing local nonprofit that helps people through their food shelf, thrift shop, and other needs.  It feels good to be a part of a pilot program that is helping my neighborhood.

Trauma Informed Care – Its been fascinating to be a part of the board at Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery and learn about their innovative research and approach to trauma informed care.  They are working with Harvard and have 2 grants to bring “The Nursery Way” to other nonprofits in town (Jeremiah!! …yes, it is a small world and Casa de Esperanza) Their mission is to end child abuse and the way they are approaching it is world class.

Adoption Connections – As the Vice President of the board at Bellis, I am so proud of our latest effort.  We recently piloted an adoption connection group that brought together 30+ people that are touched by adoption to share their stories and support each other. We had birth mothers, adopted parents, birth grandparents and adopted people.  It was a rich conversation and we scored a 8.5 out of 10 on impact. We plan on hosting these every other month so be on the look out. We’d love to see our numbers grow and are trying to understand how to weave the foster care experience into our audience base.

Wrap Around Support for Young AdultsConnections 2 Independence blows my mind. They are small, but mighty, group of adults led by Jessica Rogers and Michelle May that help usher foster care youth into adulthood.  They bring ALL their talents, ideas and support to the table to give 360 exposure and support to these kids. They help them with financial, mental, physical, career and education. They also embrace yoga, meditation and all types of self care.

Therapeutic Foster Care – I had never even heard of this term before last summer when we were connected with Anu. They are a growing foster care nonprofit that is revolutionizing how to think about foster care placement and support for kids, social workers and foster families. They believe that everyone needs to work together and be healthy if we are going to best support these kids in their goals of permanence. They started in Wisconsin but are starting to expand in Minnesota, keep an eye on them along with their sister organization ….

Child Welfare Reform Alia is a BRAND NEW nonprofit that has grown out of the learnings/vision of Anu. While Anu delivers services, Alia is poised to change child welfare nation wide. They have an upcoming symposium, being lead by IDEO that will reimagine child welfare. Its called 10 for 10 and I have my fingers crossed that my application will be accepted as a participant!

Social Justice Reform Marnita’s Table is taking a totally different approach to social reform through connectedness. They bring people together in Intentional Social Interaction (ISI) that includes community, food, dialog and listening. The model is based on data and science but feels like a warm hug. I’m on the waiting list to be trained in ISI. If you ever get a chance to go to one of there events, the food is wonderful and the people even better!

Creating CommunitySweet Potato Comfort Pies are using a similar approach to drive dialog across divides (violence, equity gaps, social issues) through sweet potato pies. You come together the day before to make pies, the next day those pies are served in a community discussion to address a significant issue in the community. Each table is then given pies to take out to someone that needs one (could be a friend, neighbor, coworker, organization).  Its all about putting out there what you want for your community and making it happen. The pies are the icing on the cake. Are they good!!

(I’ll be updating my journey with the above organizations in the Causes section of this website, check back for monthly updates!)

But wait … there’s more! My 1st draft of this was twice as long so …. be on the look out for verse 2!  In fact, you can now subscribe to my website and it’ll automatically push to you when I post.  Check it out on my home page = About Me, at the bottom.

Tell me which are your favorite causes/nonprofits!!