Metropolitan Center for Independent Living

The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) was incorporated in 1981 as a federally recognized Center for Independent Living and a consumer directed organization. The mission of MCIL is Removing barriers, promoting choices. MCIL serves the seven-county metro area with core programs including individual and systems advocacy; independent living skills training; nursing home relocation; personal assistant services; peer counselling and mentoring; and accessibility training and tools.

We’d like to share some feedback from Jesse Bethke Gomez, MMA, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living, in St. Paul. SCC worked with Jesse and MCIL’s leadership to create a new strategic plan as well as mission and vision statements to guide the organization into the future.

SCC: Jesse, our team has worked with MCIL in a number of ways. We’re so pleased that you and the board of directors have placed your confidence in us. How do you view the relationship?

Jesse:  The working relationship with SCC began in 2014 when the Board hired SCC to provide interim executive leadership. Cheryl and Renae played a terrific role during what was a transition period for MCIL. They reached out to MCIL employees and did survey work to see how people felt about the organization and worked with the Board and staff in forging a path forward. They also conducted an executive director search and, hence, I was selected. I continued to work with SCC, collaborating on the development of MCIL’s management training, particularly for emerging leaders within the organization.

SCC: Can you share a couple of positive outcomes of working with SCC?

Jesse: SCC has a strong understanding of MCIL and a profound knowledge of the nonprofit sector. We worked together to prepare the organization for its strategic plan, focusing on community engagement. SCC’s support for our strategic planning committee was very good. I appreciated their work and the training sessions. They helped us with contacting our internal and external stakeholders and did an exceptional job of connecting with the hearts and minds of MCIL and the issues facing people. We looked at how people with disabilities are faring today. Thanks to SCC, we developed a rich data set to help us ascertain how to make an even greater positive difference in the lives of people we assist.

Cheryl and Renae facilitated a great strategic planning session. We created a new mission statement and vision to align the organization to better meet the needs of our stakeholders. We also formed a first-time set of organizational principles that speak to the heart of who this agency is. I had done this type of work as a consultant and was really grateful for their expertise and skills in engaging people.

We identified four major strategies that guide us for our future. The planning led to the kind of clarity that was helpful for me as technical writer to turn around and write the plan. Cheryl and Renae provided the summary plan and I was grateful for their confidence in me to play that role.

SCC: We’ve all read case studies where everything went well. What would you change?

Jesse:  I wouldn’t change anything. Cheryl and Renae really brought the best out of our strategic planning team. We saw true relationship building and sharing and comradery among the Board and staff which provided authenticity in forming a plan that represented a collective voice. I wanted our executive committee to have lots of conversation with Cheryl and Renae so we had a good sense of becoming a galvanizing force. You have to talk through that so people find ways to express what they want. Strategic plans also need to give you the ability to go through harmonized strategies so the organization can continue doing what it does best while planning for the future. You have to sequence key action items and goals in each strategy. The strategic plan shouldn’t take away from what you do but rather build on it.

Cheryl and Renae did really good work in helping us take the plan to the next level. We have become a much larger organization in a planned and strategic way over last two years. Our strategic planning accommodates who we are today and identifies a pathway for who we will be over next three years. Cheryl and Renae also allowed me to contribute my interest and expertise in leading a nonprofit organization in a sustainable way.

We are deeply grateful for the well-supported strategic planning Cheryl and Renae conducted. They are change agents. They brought tremendous clarity and focus to the process and allowed for the kind of conversation that really helped MCIL deliberate about who we are and what we do. Considering all the years I have conducted strategic planning for private industry, foundations, government, and the non-profit sector, I can say that Strategic Consulting and Coaching, is among the best strategic consultants serving the nonprofit community!

In addition to serving as the Executive Director at MCIL, Jesse Bethke Gomez is also a contributing author for Forbes and about the nonprofit sector.