West River Consulting provides these services to non-profit organizations, schools, foundations, government agencies and socially responsible businesses on an hourly, daily, or project basis.
Shared goals and interests provide an excellent
starting point for potential powerful partnerships and coalitions. Their
success, however, depends on the details of working together and identifying
individual strengths. My experiences and skills with building consensus and
facilitating productive, respectful discussions on often thorny issues can help
partnerships at different points in their growth. As chair of a
school board that oversaw the merger of two schools, I drew heavily on
I bring a combination of formal training, hands-on experience and
innate skills when I help organizations think through the development of an
issue campaign in a systematic and logical way. Many organizations know what
they want to achieve but do not always know how to get from point A to point B.
This was a critical component of my work as Coordinator of Vermont’s statewide
early childhood coalition (Kids Are Priority One Coalition) and in a similar
role in Connecticut.
Facilitating Meetings I work
collaboratively with clients to set meeting/retreat goals and build the agenda.
In my role as facilitator, I gently guide participants from discussion to
decision-making. My facilitation style
blends humor and flexibility with a focused, systematic approach to ensuring
concrete and specific outcomes. My goal of using meetings to build community is
reflected in my comfort with participatory decision-making approaches such as
the consensus model. Meeting facilitation was an integral part of my role as Coordinator
(2000-2011) of Vermont’s statewide early childhood coalition (Kids Are Priority
One) and in my current capacity as chair of a joint school board.
Groups, organizations, agencies, school boards and other entities
that require close collaboration to function effectively often get
"stuck." This can be explained by personality conflicts, incompatible
management styles, poor communication, an unclear decision-making process,
conflicting goals, and other factors. Using various techniques and tools, I
work with groups to identify where they are stuck, the reasons for that and
strategies to help them advance their goals in a collaborative and harmonious
analyzing policy proposals, state and federal legislation and regulations have honed my skills in this area, especially in the
field of early childhood and elementary education. Policy briefs are an excellent tool to help
organizations and individuals make decisions about policy recommendations or
research skills, combined with a clear writing style and incisive analysis,
result in evaluations that have practical use. When working for the federal
government and then the Harvard Family Research Project, I produced a 30-60
page report every three months for six years on a wide range of topics related
to family support, child development, early learning, and elementary education.
Several years ago, I completed an evaluation of a national project on language
acquisition among multilingual children.
My excellent organizational and time management skills serve clients
well when I’m managing projects that require strict adherence to timelines;
involve multiple individuals/organizations; and a "point person" to
ensure that work products are completed on time. I work well in a team setting
and adapt easily to diverse work styles.
Foundations, legislative bodies, non-profit organizations and state
agencies need to write reports at some point but do not always have the
in-house capacity to do so. I am skilled at synthesizing large amounts of
information and presenting it in a readable format. A recent project entailed
conducting twenty-two interviews, synthesizing the information collected and
developing recommendations for the client to consider.
Organizations and agencies often find themselves at a point in their
development where they need to take a step back, re-evaluate their goals and
strategic direction and map out a course for achieving newly-articulated goals.
I guide clients through the process of developing and implementing a strategic
plan. The Gathering Place (Brattleboro,
VT) is one example of a recent client.
for Clarifying Strategic Decisions
When thinking about how to best approach
an issue, organizations often benefit from the perspective of someone who is
not directly involved in the work. Outsiders often feel more freedom to ask
"hard" questions, assess available resources that may have been
overlooked and identify opportunities that are often more difficult for those close
to the issue to see. Providing support in this way does not require that I am
familiar with the particular issue at hand. I am available on an hourly or per
diem basis for organizations/agencies that are seeking a very short-term
engagement with a consultant.
Whether you have a short-term initiative
that needs outside management, a position paper requiring research and analysis
or a formal independent evaluation to conduct, West River Consulting can help.
Let me put my unique combinations of skills and experience to work for you. I
promise my commitment and thoroughness in getting your job done.