Results-Based Accountability Workshop in St Johnsbury

Center for New Leadership - February 10, 2016 - 10:26am

Wednesday, March 23, 2016,
8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Springfield College, Emerson Falls Road, St. Johnsbury
Summer Room (first floor classroom)

Presented by faculty from Benchmarks for a Better Vermont, Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies

By the compleon of the program parcipants will be able to:

  • Distinguish between population level accountability and program level accountability.
  • Define results, indicators, and performance measures.
  • Relate a story of a me when working backwards, using turn the curve thinking, contributed to solving a problem.
  • Sort performance measures into three categories.
  • Experience and facilitate three RBA tools.

Cost: $95.00

(includes all materials, light breakfast, and lunch)

Online registration will be available beginning February 15, 2016 at
or you can call (802) 748-2506
Space is limited- please register early to reserve your spot. Registration deadline is Friday, March 18, 2016

Questions? Contact Laura Remick: (802) 748-2506 /

Sponsored by the Northeastern Vermont Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in collaboration with Benchmarks for a Better Vermont, Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College Graduate
and Professional Studies

Northeastern Vermont AHEC, 347 Emerson Falls Road, Suite 3, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819

Podcast: Icebreakers That Don’t Suck

Center for New Leadership - January 28, 2016 - 10:52pm

with Lori Hanau and Jodi Clark.

Jodi and Lori teach “The Art of Facilitative Leadership” at Marlboro Graduate and Professional Studies. In this podcast, Hillary Boone hosts a conversation that dives deep into the art of facilitation and explores the power and responsibility a facilitator holds in beginning with a group. These podcasts are sponsored by the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College.

Music credit to Nicolai Heidlas for “Drive” Nicolai-heidlas – Drive-fresh-upbeat-pop-background-music

Henderson Animates Center for New Leadership

Center for New Leadership - January 28, 2016 - 12:57pm

Originally posted by Philip Johansson on the Marlboro College website

Launched in June 2015, the Marlboro College Center for New Leadership (CNL) has become the umbrella for a growing suite of community engagement and professional development activities for Vermont’s mission-driven sector. But this dazzling beehive of activity would not have been possible without the generous support of the A. D. Henderson Foundation, which includes in its mission to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations in Vermont.

“The long-term financial support and the confidence of the Henderson Foundation enabled Marlboro College to plan, build, and launch the Center for New Leadership,” said Kate Jellema, associate dean for graduate and professional studies and director of CNL. “This is the realization of a dream we’ve had for many years, to create a unified home for the various programs we run in leadership development and nonprofit management.”

Henderson support this year included a $50,000 grant for internal capacity building, as well as an additional $30,000 for Benchmarks for a Better Vermont, the foremost provider of Results-Based Accountability (RBA) and related skills in northern New England. This latter grant will enable CNL to train hundreds of nonprofit organizations in RBA and work in-house with many of these Philanthropy News Henderson Animates Center for New Leadership organizations on how to weave a culture of accountability into their day-to-day operations. These grants build on others from Henderson over the years in support of nonprofit management programs at the Marlboro.

“Henderson Foundation has an interest in the ability of all nonprofit organizations in Vermont to run efficiently and effectively,” said Eddie Gale, program director at Henderson. “The Center for New Leadership is able to provide that support to Vermont’s nonprofit organizations in relation to management, governance, fundraising, and accountability, helping these organizations to steward the public resources that have been put in their trust to serve Vermont communities.”

“Henderson’s support has allowed us to undertake strategic planning, business planning, systems improvements, and staff development,” said Kate. “We now have a core staff working with a large network of trainers and consultants to provide transformational training and leadership development for the mission-driven sector.”

In addition to CNL’s popular cohort programs, such as the Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Women’s Leadership Circle, ALIGN, and the Board Leadership Institute, in October they launched the CNL Consultant Learning Community. This collaborative group of 16 educators, trainers, and facilitators (pictured, right) is dedicated to helping mission-driven organizations achieve greater impact.

“We know that for deep organizational change to happen, it is often really helpful to have a supportive outsider to serve as facilitator, organizer, technical expert, and cheerleader,” said Kate. “We now have the infrastructure and expertise in place to provide a vetted consultant to organizations seeking customized in-house support. In addition, the consultant group will be coming together on a regular basis to share ideas, build skills, and support each other’s practice.”

Learning Like a Jedi: Presence Through Sword Wielding

Center for New Leadership - January 25, 2016 - 11:59am

by Jodi Clark, Core Consultant at the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College and Faculty at Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies. 


“The way I look at the Force is that people are so buried today in electronics, we live in a culture of distraction.  People can spend their whole days on the internet, Facebook, listening to music, Podcasts and all that and not actually be aware of what’s around them.  They live in this little bubble of distraction and don’t know what’s going on.  When you stop and hear the wind going through trees and paying attention to what’s around you, being present like mindfulness and awareness of what’s going on around you. . . to me, that’s the Force, coz when you’re truly there you actually see the world for what it is.”  –Luke Boyton, founder of The Sons of Obiwan Light Saber Academy


I have been a fan of Star Wars since I was four years old. It was the second movie I ever saw in my life.  Like most GenXers, I was awed by what I saw.  The dramatic duel with Obiwan and Darth Vader was breathtaking. I always wanted a lightsaber to wield for my own and was constantly constructing and prototyping swords with my brother out of paper towel tubes and masking tape.  It took me about 14 more years before I started to really learn how to wield a sword via historical rapier training that was offered at my tiny undergraduate school, Marlboro College.  Since then, I moved into learning stage combat with all manner of swords and other weapons forms.  I teach stage combat to all ages of performers.  And after many years of not fencing due to a knee injury, I find myself once again developing a new practice of sword both solo and with a couple of dear, daring friends.


What is it about wielding a sword that is so engaging?  


The sword is an extension of your arm, thus of your body.  You put energy into moving it, your force (The Force!), your will, your agency.  In order to not hurt yourself, you must be aware of your distance.  In order to not hit things you don’t want to hit, you must be completely aware of what is around you.  You are fully present.  You are in your body, you are with the sword.  If you are practicing with another person, you are that much more aware, as you are minding their distance, their sword, and in this practice, you are NOT trying to hurt them.  Just the opposite, you are holding their safety as primary as the two of you tell a physical story, a sort of a “conversation” using swords.  How you fully you show up in this conversation is going to determine everything from how good you are going to look engaging in it to whether or not either of you is going to get hurt.


Recently, I was practicing my solo form down in my basement after my other workout which includes vigorous elliptical training while listening to a podcast.  Sometimes, the podcasts don’t time out identically to the workout, so I was wanting to continue listening as I moved into my sword forms.  With my earphones in, my iPhone in my very attractive zipper pocket running belt, I began to go through my long sword form.  It was slow.  I had to slow it down further, as I was catching my earbud cord frequently.  Finally, I somehow forgot or misjudged my movements and “YOINK”, I perfectly caught the earbud cord and my phone went flying through the air.  That was the last time I tried multitasking while doing my sword practice.  The whole point of the sword form is to be fully present, to have a heightened awareness and focus.  And as the human I am, I did a marvelous job of outsmarting myself and defeated the purpose of my sword training.  Good thing my phone case is pretty darn robust.  


The remarkable thing I have found is that what I observe in my physical practice shows up in my day elsewhere.  I definitely have challenges with staying present in one task at a time elsewhere in my life.  Despite the temptation to spread my focus, I have to admit, I actually will complete a task, in good time, if I simply stick with it.  Breaks happen (sometimes they are even sword form breaks) and are totally necessary.  But to paraphrase a wise, green teacher: “Do or Do Not, There is No Multitasking.”


May the Force be with you, always.


Somatic Coaching at the Strozzi Institute

Center for New Leadership - January 6, 2016 - 11:34am

Kerry Secrest (CNL Consultant and Women’s Leadership Circles Director) was recently accepted into the teacher-training program at the Strozzi Institute.


The Strozzi Institute is located on a 13-acre ranch in Northern California and is a hub of training and coaching in the methodology of somatic coaching. The organizational mission is “to produce leaders who embody pragmatic wisdom, skillful action and grounded compassion.”


In this interview, we talk with Kerry to learn more about the somatic coaching model, what it can add to one’s leadership development practice, and what drew her to the Strozzi Institute in the first place.


CNL: The Strozzi Institute (SI) teaches embodied leadership and somatic coaching, Can you explain what that means to you?


Kerry: In leadership and in life, it’s not what we say but rather who we are when we say it that makes the biggest impact on people. Embodied leadership is about leadership from the whole self– an alignment of thought, feeling and action. This creates a grounded foundation from which a person can more effectively lead their life at work, in their communities, and at home. Somatic coaching is the means toward this.


In my years of leadership coaching and training, I’ve become aware that despite the traditional focus on just the thought processes (and sometimes emotions) of a leader, there’s a physical component as well. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard social psychologist, has a popular TED talk about how the ways in which we hold our bodies affect physical chemicals that are released, which impacts our confidence, power, and sense of self—for better or for worse. It’s no secret that how a leader, or anyone, handles stress, for example, can have physical manifestations. Somatic coaching seeks to promote embodied leadership which includes this physical piece, and which helps clients became aware of their bodies and adapt in order to become more effective. I recognize that this may sound odd to someone used to narrower forms of traditional leadership training, but I’ve seen the impact, and it can be extremely powerful.


What drew you personally to SI?


I was a competitive gymnast in my youth and have remained physically active so being in my body and awareness of how we hold ourselves has always been central to me. In my coaching work, I focus on the head, heart and gut– intellectual, emotional and physical domains. Strozzi Institutes, one of the top somatic coaching centers in the United States and abroad, was a way for me to learn a deep methodology for teaching people how to use their bodies to support their leadership on a personal and professional level.


 How long is the program? What does it entail?


I will join a small cohort of ten national-level coaches for a year of training that includes four trips to California, monthly calls, and a personalized coaching program to prepare me for being on the faculty of Strozzi Institute.


 What will the teacher training add to your practice or allow you to do?


In learning, there is always a balance between breadth and depth of knowledge. In my ten years as a coach I have been trained in many modalities, including integral coaching, neuroscience, communication and conflict resolution, management approaches, nature-based learning, etc. This has been very useful in order to be able to support a wide variety of clients on their leadership journeys. At this next phase of my craft, I want to deepen my learning in somatic coaching to the mastery level. I have found that integrating somatics into my coaching has had a very positive impact for many of my clients over time. My goal is to best serve my clients, and I feel that in our society that is so focused on the mind and thinking, that there is much to be gained by tuning into and cultivating the wisdom of the body, as well.


MIX Workshops Announced Spring 2016

Center for New Leadership - January 4, 2016 - 12:33pm
We are thrilled to offer these free lunchtime workshops to the community. Reserve your seat now!  JANUARY “What is the State of Your Board?” with Kim Lier January 19th 12pm – 1:30pm At the Marlboro Graduate Center Free registration

Many boards are busy doing their important work and don’t have time for reflection or self-assessment. In this workshop we’ll explore some quick, effective assessment tools that can be used to identify your strengths and areas for improvement.


Accelerating Your Fundraising Success: Five Proven Strategies with Richard Wizansky

February 16th 12pm – 1:30pm At the Marlboro Graduate Center Free registration

This workshop focuses on critical fundraising skills: generating bold ideas, obtaining face to face meetings, building trusting relationships, involving staff and board members in the fundraising process, and monitoring and communicating results.


Writing Clear, SMART Objectives with Beth Neher

March 15th 12pm – 1:30pm At the Marlboro Graduate Center Free registration

We all make plans. We plan personal things – parties, vacations, do-it-yourself projects – and work-related things. We are a goal-driven culture and work hard toward completion. However, we often initiate our plans without a well-defined sense of what we’re actually going to do or how we’ll know if we’ve been successful beyond simply carrying out the plan. In this workshop, we’ll look at SMART objectives as a tool to clarifying what we’re going to do and what successful completion looks like.  


Getting Your Words to Count, the Art of the Op/Ed with Meg Mott

April 20th 12pm – 1:30pm At the Marlboro Graduate Center Free registration

Getting your opinion across in print requires more than clarity and courage. Unlike the elevator pitch, where your audience is captive for a floor or two, the opinion writer doesn’t have a clue who is on the other side of the page. But just because we can’t see our audience doesn’t mean we can’t bring them to our point of view. We’ll discuss techniques as old as Aristotle and as current as cognitive science to befriend the stranger and snap the opposition to attention. 


Questions? Contact Julie Jansen,, 802-258-9204

MIX (Management Ideas Exchange) is a free, lunchtime workshop series sponsored by the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College. Directors and staff of mission-driven organizations are invited to join us for network opportunities, best practices in organizational success, and the exchange of ideas. With topics ranging from “Managing Organizational Change” to “Calming the Storm: De-escalating High-Heat Encounters,” these workshops build on the experience of participants to reach new horizons in professional efficacy. Each session will be presented by an instructor from one of the Marlboro graduate degrees in management, or by a local nonprofit, government, or business leader.

Grants Management Training in Brattleboro

Center for New Leadership - December 29, 2015 - 4:30pm

The Center for New Leadership is working with The Grantsmanship Center to bring renowned grants-management training to Vermont.

Effective grant management is essential to your organization’s health, and this workshop will show you how to do it right! You examine critical legal and policy considerations, plus you focus on the tasks, responsibilities, practices, and real-world situations that grant managers confront every day. It’s an approach we call “operational realism.”

Learn more by watching the video below, and be sure to sign up for our early notification list to be among first alerted when registration becomes available.

Grant Management Training
March 23rd & 24th
Tuition: $795
Marlboro Graduate Center
Brattleboro, Vermont

Year In Review

Center for New Leadership - December 29, 2015 - 4:27pm

Happy New Year! Enjoy this montage of photos put together by our own Kelly Fletcher.

Serving the Community – In More Ways Than One

Center for New Leadership - December 14, 2015 - 9:21am

by Don Parker

Nathaniel Brooks had an idea – perhaps a hopeful dream as well – for his Capstone Project, the culmination of his studies in our MBA in Managing for Sustainability program. In the process, it had to embrace the tenets of the program: a solid bottom line, sure, but also respect for the community and the environment.

And then, there it was: VT Dinners, a new Brattleboro-based company, offering wholesome frozen meals made with ingredients from Dutton, Harlow, Old Athens, and other Windham County farms.

Chef-prepared meals are made in small batches during peak season, then rapidly frozen, held in low temperature storage, and distributed throughout the year. Research demonstrates there is significant interest in healthy local food, but price, convenience, and seasonal availability are all barriers. VT Dinners addresses each, offering delicious, easy-to-prepare frozen entrees year-round at an accessible price point.

“The real draw of the VT Dinners business idea was two-fold,” says Nathaniel.  “First, as a new parent who was simultaneously working and going to graduate school I’d experienced exactly the customer pain we’re aiming to alleviate (i.e., the challenge of putting real food on the table when life gets hectic). Second, the prospect of a business that, by virtue of its model, could change the dynamic of limited accessibility was incredibly exciting. The local food movement struggles with the challenge of affording small-scale farmers, producing without the economies of scale found in industrial agriculture, a livable wage while still being affordable. If re-localization of at least some of our food supply is to play the role that I think it can in bringing about a paradigm shift towards a more sustainable society it’s critical that it be affordable to families at all income levels.”

VT Dinners delivered its first order this past fall to an employee of Brattleboro’s Brooks House recuperating from injuries sustained after being struck by a drunk driver. Since then the two-portion frozen meals have been purchased through corporate and school buying clubs, or picked up at the production kitchen at the former Austine School.

Nathaniel credits lessons learned at the Grad School with helping him establish this new venture. For instance, they have drawn on some of the elements covered in “Law” to navigate the thicket of regulation surrounding food processing as well as the stakeholder engagement framework used in “Communications” to set up a win-win scenario for future use of the kitchen.

Two-serving meals are $12 for meat dishes, $10 for vegetarian items. Vegan and gluten free meals available. All orders are placed through the website ( Similar to the popular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, the business offers discounted pricing for pre-purchase and a “set it and forget it” subscription option for weekly or monthly recurring orders.

Nathaniel reports that since opening in mid-October, “sales have been growing steadily. We’re looking to ramp things up as the holidays approach. One effort I’m particularly excited about is something we’re calling our ‘fill the freezer’ holiday sale: $100 for a case of any 12 two-person meals and for each case sold we’re donating a meal to Groundworks Collaborative.” 

As they grow, they are still mindful of “community” in the triple bottom line. They are actively seeking someone interested in part-time work to take over the order fulfillment aspect of the business. In addition, they intend to re-engage with area dining services companies to offer summer employment to some of their staff currently on 10 or 11-month contracts as well as partner with (Grad School alum and faculty member) Tristan Toleno, and the Strolling of the Heifers to employ their culinary training students.

Delivery is available anywhere within the 05301 zip code and is free for orders of $100 or more. VT Dinners are also available for pickup at several area locations.

Good news for all who attending our December residency weekend:  Nathaniel will be here Saturday, 12/12, for lunch (12-1pm) with samples and meals available for purchase.

For more information about VT Dinners, visit

The End is Nigh!

Library Blog - December 11, 2015 - 5:11am

It’s almost over! Congratulation to our graduating seniors, and we wish everyone a successful close to the Fall semester! The Library will close over the winter break, and to that end, we wanted to update everyone on the following dates and deadlines:

  • Please remove all personal belongings from the Library no later than Thursday, December 17th.
  • All interlibrary loan books are due back no later than Wednesday, December 16th.
  • Marlboro library items are also due back Wednesday, December 16th. However, you are welcome to renew them over break as long as no one else has requested them.
  • The library building will begin winter break hours on Thursday, December 17th, at 4:30pm (when the dorms close), which means the building will be locked overnight.
  • A return bin will be located outside the entrance by the librarians’ offices for those needing to return library materials.
  • Generally, hours for the library building and services over break are M-F, 9:00am – 4:00pm, with the exception of December 21st and 22nd, which will be half days: 9:00am – noon.
  • The library will be closed from Wednesday, December 23, 2015, through Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

Doing research over break? Don’t forget that you have access to tens of thousands of journals, books, and more via the library’s website. And whether you are near or far, library staff remain available to provide research assistance.

Have a wonderful break!

Library Hours Over Thanksgiving & The ILL book request deadline

Library Blog - November 20, 2015 - 12:08am

While the Library building will remain open during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Service Desk will have reduced hours.

Governor LeRoy Collins pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey in Tallahassee, Florida. 1957. State Library and Archives of Florida.

The Service Desk will close at 4:00pm on Tuesday, November 24th. Please plan in advance if you’d like to borrow reserves, DVDs, equipment, or pick up holds or ILLs before break!

The Service Desk, Reserve/AV Room, and Plan Room will reopen at 6:30pm on Sunday, November 29th. Regular hours will resume at that time.

The last day to request books or A/V materials via Interlibrary Loan this semester is Tuesday, December 1st. (You can keep requesting articles.)

Remember that even when you’re away from the library, you still have access to over 125,000 academic ebooks, 40,000 online journals, and dozens of research databases. When you use library resources off campus, if you’re prompted to log in, just use your Marlboro username and password.

Have a wonderful break!

Marlboro Deepens Commitment to Sustainability

Sustainability Updates - November 18, 2015 - 9:53am

Marlboro College has recently become a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to further campus efforts toward building a healthy and just world. Through membership in AASHE, Marlboro will receive support in advancing its sustainability initiatives throughout the institution and in the community.

“AASHE counts on the support of progressive institutions like Marlboro to fulfill its mission of facilitating leadership to transform our planet,” said Meghan Fay Zahniser, AASHE executive director. “As the gateways to knowledge, higher education institutions have a unique opportunity to make sustainability part of everyone’s agenda. I welcome Marlboro to our family of colleges, universities, associations, and businesses driving the transformation to a sustainable world.”

AASHE enables higher education institutions to meet their sustainability goals by providing specialized resources, professional development, and a network of peer support. Membership covers every individual at an institution, so the entire campus community can take advantage of member benefits.

“We are happy to join AASHE and expand on our active role within the higher education community, as we all work to advance sustainability,” said Todd Smith, Marlboro chemistry professor and chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee. “We encourage students, faculty, and staff to visit the AASHE site and take advantage of the member-only resources to support ongoing campus efforts like the community farm, recycling, composting, energy conservation, and the Real Food Challenge.”

Trip to the UMass Amherst Libraries this Sunday!

Library Blog - November 18, 2015 - 6:59am

This Sunday, November 22nd, the Library is sponsoring the second van trip of the semester to the UMass Amherst Libraries. Space is limited! Sign up on the sheet at the Library Research Bar.

The van will leave the Dining Hall at 11:30am and return by 5:30pm.

While at UMass, you can search their hundreds of databases and download or scan articles from their extensive journal holdings (e-journal list; library catalog). If you are a Massachusetts resident, you can get a library card and borrow books; if not, you can jot down any book titles that look useful and request them via Marlboro’s Interlibrary Loan service.

RBA at the Vermont Creative Network Summit

Center for New Leadership - November 11, 2015 - 9:42am

by Hillary Boone, Organizational Development Specialist at the Marlboro College Center for New Leadership.


Last week, almost 200 people descended onto the campus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts to learn, network, and workshop the emerging Vermont Creative Network (VCN). The VCN is a burgeoning collective impact initiative that has been modeled after successful Vermont models like Farm to Plate. It intends to bolster and develop the creative economy in Vermont.


The Vermont Arts Council has been a leader in the work. “I envision an opportunity for a broad variety of Vermonters to come together for a single purpose of using creativity as the vehicle for making life better for all,” said Executive Director Alex Aldrich.


I was selected to attend the conference and present about Results-Based Accountability with a focus on performance measurement. Over 20 people joined the session, to learn about RBA, and work together develop performance metrics for arts organizations.


Some of the key thinking that emerged from the group:


  • It is possible to measure “better offs” for arts programs designed to use arts as a therapeutic tool, or with the purpose of helping people. For example, returning soldiers exposed to the arts may report an increased ability to talk about their experiences or trauma.
  • It is harder to measure “better offs” for programs intrinsically designed to share the arts with large audiences. How does one measure the effect of a local theatre on the surrounding community? On the patrons? What is the value of the symphony? To me, the challenges raised by these organizations were similar to the struggles that advocacy organizations can have with metrics. How do we ensure that we don’t lose sight of long-range goals in favor of short-term impacts? How do we concretely measure our influence, when it is diffuse by nature?
  • It is imperative that the creative economy shows up in the Vermont State Outcomes and Indicators. There is work to be done in making the case that a rich arts community contributes to a vibrant quality of life in Vermont towns.


Vermont Creative Network

Funds for Collaboration

Center for New Leadership - November 9, 2015 - 2:32pm

By Kate Jellema, Associate Dean for Graduate & Professional Studies and Director of the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College.

“How can we mobilize resources to support high-impact cross-sector collaborative work?” This was the central question posed during “Fundraising for Collaborative Initiatives,” the panel Kate Jellema moderated at the Association for Fundraising Professionals Northern New England conference at Stowe this week.


Although we are seeing the impact of many successful large-scale social change initiatives around the world, our funding mechanisms continue to favor requests from individual organizations running independent programs. Research shows that to be effective, collaborative efforts need time to mature and require dedicated administrative support, but it can be difficult to secure funding for trust-building, relationship cultivation, and the hard work of collaboration.


Collaboration entails a certain level of mystery, noted Janet McLaughlin of the Vermont Community Foundation: you cannot necessarily predict where the conversation of multiple partners might lead. As funders that means you have to build in time, patience, and a tolerance for the unexpected.


To build genuine collaboration, it is important to be forthright about the potential challenges and downsides as well as the possible opportunities, according to Jodi Clark of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. Jodi described the importance of honest conversation to the creation of a tri-state collaboration that secured a half-million dollar federal Economic Development Administration grant.


Amy Carmola, Director of Community Impact for the United Way of Chittenden County, explored how funders might redesign their grantmaking process to provide the requisite time, space and freedom for the development of strong collaborative efforts. If funders issued ITPs: Invitations to Participate in a conversation about funding priorities instead of RFPs (Requests for Proposals) from individual agencies, what new forms of collaboration might develop?

The social sector has expanded well beyond traditional 501c3 organizations, according to Lauren-Glenn Davitian, Executive Director of Common Good Vermont. For example, some corporate philanthropists are charting their own pathways and may bypass traditional institutions altogether in their quest for high-impact social change. Crowdfunding, microloans, impact investing and pay-for-success might open new ways to finance social change initiatives.  


To mobilize traditional and non-traditional resources in service of collective impact projects, we will need to become more adept at making the case for deep, genuine collaboration amongst multiple stakeholders as critical groundwork for sustained systems change.


The slides from the panel are available here.

Jodi Clark: When you can have an honest conversation about the risks and opportunities of a potential partnership, everyone in the room can relax.

How Can RBA and Collective Play Nicely Together?

Center for New Leadership - November 3, 2015 - 5:38pm

By Kate Jellema, Associate Dean for Graduate & Professional Studies and Director of the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College. My colleague Hillary Boone and the three dozen participants in our Lake Morey workgroup all contributed substantively to the thinking in this post.

Last month at the Collective Impact conference at Lake Morey organized by United Way of Chittenden County, I had the chance to explore the connections between Results-Based Accountability and Collective Impact, two approaches with broad currency in Vermont’s mission-driven sector. In our work group, we started with the assumption that both RBA and CI are strong, effective and inherently-collaborative methodologies. We then asked: Where are the points of overlap, and how can these approaches enrich to one another?

Points of agreement

Collective Impact and RBA start from a similar set of assumptions:

  • Both seek to create meaningful big-picture change.
  • Both start with ends (“results” or “shared vision”) and work backwards to means.
  • Both recognize the importance of “measuring what matters” and using data for organizational and systems learning.
  • Both emphasize the need to enlist multiple partners to contribute to population-level results.
  • Both offer a framework for thinking about the connection between broad systems-level goals and organizational-level programming.


Unique contributions

When we put these two approaches side-by-side, we build a more powerful toolkit:

  • CI gives us the concept of the backbone organization, a formally-appointed and well-staffed entity with specific responsibilities to coordinate the efforts of the collective undertaking.
  • RBA gives us “turn the curve thinking,” an intuitively-appealing conceptual tool to connect data with action and inspire systems-level work for change.
  • CI encourages us to build comprehensive systems maps that demonstrate the complex interrelationships of population-level systems and help us to identify leverage points for change.
  • RBA encourages us to sketch concise performance grids that keep the question “Is anyone better off?” at the forefront of our minds.



On several key topics, the two methodologies enrich each other in more subtle ways. Where they differ in emphasis, they expose important questions to ask about the art of community work.


  • TIME: One of the most memorable lines from the CI training at Lake Morey last month was trainer Greg Hill’s comment that “Collective Impact moves at the speed of trust.”  CI encourages us to move slowly and approach collaborations with the long haul in mind, ready to invest many months and even years simply building the relationships that will allow for effective partnerships. RBA provides a nice counterbalance to that gradualist approach by providing effective means to move quickly from talk to action in order to break through conversational impasse and build group momentum by getting things done. How can move fast enough and slow enough in our community work?


  • BOUNDEDNESS: One of the insights implicit in the CI model is the value of creating a bounded group of enlisted partners, all of whom publicly sign on to shared goals and a shared work plan; this allows for greater alignment and accountability within the team. On the other hand, RBA encourages us to never stop asking ourselves “who are the partners with a role to play?” and to continually think about who else could/should be at the table. When should we limit our circle to a committed core, and when should we think more expansively about potential partners?


  • COMPLEXITY: CI leans towards capturing the full complexity of a situation or system, the better to fully understand and influence it, whereas RBA leans towards simplification based on a philosophy that in our noisy world, less is often more. When should we embrace complexity, and when should we drive towards simplification?


Spiral of Inspiration

RBA and Collective Impact share many starting assumptions, and with relative ease they can become mutually-reinforcing methodologies. Used in tandem, they offer an expanded repertoire of effective change-making concepts and tools, and the contrasts between them encourage us to grapple with some subtle questions of community work.


At their best, CI and RBA can work together to create a spiral of inspiration whereby a desire to make systems-level change using a CI approach can motivate groups to do thoughtful work to gather mission-centric data in an RBA format, while at the same time RBA-style data trendlines can redouble a group’s commitment to work together for positive systems change.


ALIGN Kicks Off with Focus on Storytelling

Center for New Leadership - November 3, 2015 - 7:30am

ALIGN prepares emerging community leaders for a sustainable, high-impact career in the mission-driven sector by helping them clarify personal purpose, develop practices to support work/life integration, form a supportive community of practice, and better align their work with their strengths and passions.

This year the cohort consists of 12 people, ranging from local executive directors, an international NGO founder from Atlanta, Georgia, and two current Marlboro graduate students. The opening retreat has completed, and now the group is moving into storytelling as a practice for better work-life balance.

We got in touch with Chris Meehan, ALIGN participant and Chief Community Impact Officer at Vermont Foodbank, to catch up about the ALIGN kickoff and how it has impacted her so far.

Chris: “Since our first meeting together, I’ve made some significant changes in how I organize my day so I’m more productive and energized.

I’m a mother of two remarkable children, a partner to an amazing man and I have a very fulfilling career – the big, juicy question for me is “how do I prioritize the things that are most important to me in my life so that I can be as happy, passionate and effective as I can be in all of these areas (mom, wife, worker – and more)?”

ALIGN offers some very practical tools and support for me to be able to live a good life in the areas that are most significant to me in the context of a shared learning community so that I may continue to learn and grow.

The “Story of the Week (SOW)” component of ALIGN is one of those practical tools that I just referenced above. This exercise provides a framework for me to review my week through a certain lens: one that helps me look for a few particularly fulfilling areas and for any challenges or important questions that may have come up. Being able to tell this story, ask these questions and share it with others has not only help me to remain focused on what I want in my life both professionally and personally, but can also help others in my ALIGN community of learning. The narrative, or story, that we tell ourselves and others has great power.”

Theory Into Practice: Marlboro Facilities Go Solar

Center for New Leadership - November 2, 2015 - 1:47pm

Last week a small solar system was installed on the roof of the Marlboro Graduate Center. We interviewed “KP” Peterson, Marlboro MBA graduate and Master Electrician at Marlboro College to get the scoop on the project.  

Hillary Boone: How long have you been planning this? What got you started?

KP Peterson: This is part of my capstone project, so I started the planning about two years ago.

My capstone was about getting the grad center to be a lot more efficient. I wanted to actually do my capstone on something that was relevant to me and to Marlboro College. I got several quotes to do the entire building, to do very large systems. This system is small, and my hope is that it is preliminary to a larger scale system at the grad school that includes panels on the roof and on the bridge.


HB: What impact will the solar panels have?

KP: Right now, it’s about visibility. The system is small. It went online on Thursday [10/29/2015] and produced 47.8 kilowatts. It’s something. According to the charts associated with the system, as of today we have saved one tree and could have powered one house for one day. It’s teeny, but the system is hugely visible. Everyone coming into the building has asked about it, and everyone can see it, right there from the parking lot. My mindset is that every tiny bit helps.


HB: What do you see as the future of buildings at the graduate school?

KP: My longterm vision for the graduate center is to do everything I possibly can to reduce the electrical impact. We have also done a lot of work on the heating systems. It has made a difference. Efficiency Vermont has been helping out with that and I have graphs and charts and they show that we’re making a dent. We definitely have reduced the electricity usage at the college. And that’s awesome. Not everything will get done off of that capstone, but at this point it’s all about the money. I think there is buy-in for a large scale system, and now we just have to find the money to pay for it.


HB: You’ve put so much energy into this, how does it feel to see the project really happening?

KP: It’s pretty cool. My capstone included other things that have been happening at the grad center, like parking lights that are now LED, getting some LED lights in the building, which is happening little by little. It included this solar. It included more LED lights outside instead of the high-wattage we have now. So it’s a piece, and it feels great. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the entire thing could happen in five to ten years? I’ve got a longterm plan, and that’s it.

Graduate Center Grows Solar

Sustainability Updates - October 30, 2015 - 1:19pm

The addition of new solar panels on the south-facing awning of the Marlboro College Graduate Center, on October 28, marked the latest stage in the greening of Marlboro. The new system includes a series of 16 grid-tied photovoltaic panels, rated at a total of 4,560 watts, facing the graduate center parking lot.

“It’s a very visible start to what could be a larger project down the road,” said K.P. Peterson, the college’s master electrician. Although the panels are not sufficient to generate all of the electricity used by the facility, long-range plans include expanding on the project to include panels on the roof.

Walking The Talk: Watershed Coaching is B Corp Certified

Center for New Leadership - October 28, 2015 - 12:44pm
A message from Kerry Secrest, Principal at Watershed Coaching LLC, CNL Consultant and Director of the Women’s Leadership Circles.  — I’m excited to share that Watershed Coaching was just B Corp certified!“What’s that?” you might wonder. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, a B Corp (B stands for “Benefit”) is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corp status requires meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. It’s an external, measured validation of my commitment to corporate social responsibility through my work. What I really appreciated about the process was that it got me focused in a concrete way on how my business reflects my values and what the metrics are which demonstrate actual actions bringing those values to life. -Kerry