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"My goal is to create a space where we can learn and grow together."

My Journey

Why change is necessary

I have significant love and respect for these massive systems that determine how money is spent and delivered.  To ensure good use of funds for the sake of the tax payers, departments at the city, state and federal level develop methods for compliance - standards for what level of need is required for specific levels of care in funding, who is most at risk and most vulnerable, etc.   

Unfortunately, over time these massive systems often yield undesirable results like the following:

  1. Access to necessary services is not available to everyone, or figuring out how to access them is particularly challenging;

  2. Lower middle class working families have the most challenging time getting and paying for services;

  3. Prevention services are not readily available and yet are the most effective; 

  4. Roadblocks often delay access to many of the services; and

  5. Holistic services are offered but the way funding is allocated limits our ability to deliver them together, which makes addressing the multiple risk factors very complex.

The perfect storm

I see multiple factors coming together all at once to create a potential perfect storm for nonprofits like CORA.

Perfect storm for nonprofits like CORA
  1. Government funds are leaving holes which is dangerous for children and families at risk 

  2. Unrelated to funding, is the increasing needs of children in Philadelphia and across the country.  We are also seeing an uptick in violence in our city and among our youth. 

  3. Inflation is placing more strain on families, on CORA and other nonprofit organizations who can't meet the increasing salary demand, which may also slow down the individual donor's ability to provide. 

  4. And overall, we have become a people who are skeptical of any type of leader - government leaders, corporate leaders, our bosses.

This is personal...

Personally I've had children in public, charter and private schools in Philadelphia.   I have had my little ones in early childhood and early intervention.  I have had children with IEPs.  I have children with private insurance and medicaid.  I know what is and is not available to each of them.  At one point I was paying for my medicaid child to obtain private counseling from someone who did not take medicaid and I was paying for my private insured child to attend a medicaid only mental health service center… just because I struggled to find the right care.  That was thousands of dollars out of pocket and I understand what they are entitled to receive. At one point I had a son going through a crisis and we were told after being evaluated that we needed Family Based Services for him.  There were actual physically aggressive concerns in the home.  It took nine months to receive a call that services could begin.  By that time, I had more than moved on paying out of pocket to get him and the family help.  If I am the CEO of an organization that works with children and families and I was having trouble finding the right services for my own children, then you can only imagine how impossible and hopeless it must feel for those that are not aware of what they are entitled to receive.

Pushing forward with purpose

All of this has had me thinking a great deal about what it will take to push forward with purpose, meeting both the demands of what employees and communities need from leadership as well as how to create a self-sustaining model of care that fills in the cracks of public dollars. 

This memoir will serve many purposes because I want to have an impact, generate awareness, spark meaningful conversations, and inspire action.  Here is what I want to see as a result of this memoir:

  • I want my employees, the communities we serve, our school administrators, and our funders to recognize and acknowledge the integrity (although imperfect for sure) that exists within the leadership at CORA.  I want us to be trusted, and to be asked the hard questions if we do something that appears to not have the best interest of others in mind.  I desire to show that I am genuine so that those who don't trust leaders, can believe that I care.. 

  • I want to get leaders, particularly in the nonprofit sector, to start becoming more  transparent.   Nonprofit leaders often have to "fight" at multiple levels.  Really our fight is more like ongoing advocacy as we work with systems to encourage better delivery of services through a change in they way dollars flow.  We are sandwiched between supporting employee needs and gaining access to funds, as well as the compliance regulations required for all of our work.  It is not easy and often we do feel (if we take a step back) that we can't make anyone completely happy. 

  • I want to rethink how nonprofits raise funds for services.  I want to think new and outside the box.  I want us to think about social enterprises, creating new business models, better fundraising, and of course the ongoing goal of better use of public dollars.  I don't have the answers but we have to come up with solutions or I sense an implosion at some point.  And right now our schools, communities, city and nation must have access to critical and timely early intervening support. 

  • I want CORA to break down silos of service and get ALL CHILDREN AND FAMILIES what they need and fast - regardless of the many roadblocks.  What we want to do is simple but is nearly impossible the way systems are currently designed.  I want the listener to understand how easy this is but how expensive it will initially be and to join us in building an effective and simple model.   This means we have to raise money to fill in the gaps as we demonstrate the effectiveness of this work and share the stories of the barriers we are breaking down.  I believe that eventually can support the shift we need towards a better use of public dollars working from ground level, direct service, up.  

This is personal...

I have seen good leaders become jaded because of the challenging systems and obstacles that they face day in and day out.  As leaders of nonprofit organizations we cannot allow this to happen.  We must remember why we do the work we do and encourage one another to keep working together, believing that we and the folks in the systems we work with really do want the best for our constituents.  Yes, there are leaders who begin to become power hungry.  However, most of the leaders I work with are just trying to do the right thing and do it based on their perspectives of what the needs are.  We are ALL A TEAM. 

Hear my story.  Share your story.  Join the conversation.

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