Communities Rise (CR) has moved to a three-person Co-Executive Director (Co-E.D.) team as part of our commitment to shared leadership. Each Co-E.D. will spend the majority of their time working with external partners and leading their respective departments – Capacity Building, Legal Services, and Finance/Operations. As a team, Co-Executive Directors will be responsible for organization-wide budgeting, contracts, and organizational wellness. By co-managing more traditional executive responsibilities, we’re improving our communication across teams while ensuring each Co-E.D. has more capacity to support our staff and programs. We’re excited for you to get to know our teammates in their new capacity! Our new Co-Executive Directors are:
How did we get here?
Communities Rise has spent the last two years exploring how shifting away from a traditional Executive Director model could better serve our staff and mission. Rather than embarking on a traditional E.D. search, staff and board agreed early on to prioritize the growth and leadership of our current staff. We want CR staff to feel valued and see a path forward as individuals within the work. Our consultant Kad Smith helped us better understand what our staff loves about our culture and what doesn’t serve them. We also met with other organizations to understand how they developed their own alternative leadership models. Then we put together a Transition Team, made up of staff and board members across positions, to generate ideas, facilitate staff and board input, and draft a proposal outlining CR’s next leadership structure. Internal candidates were identified via a staff nomination process at the end of 2022, staff and board conducted interviews in February, and the board voted to appoint Andrew, Annie, and Brianna in March. This is a broad summary, but it was a complex process! Throughout, we were grateful all staff could turn to Michelle Gislason for 1:1 coaching and support, including our outgoing E.D. which was vital to ensuring a smooth transition.
In this next phase, we’re creating a feedback mechanism for staff to evaluate how we’re putting these ideas into practice. Our Co-E.D.’s will work with staff and board to develop practices for accountability to each other and our work, while ensuring that no individual person in the system holds too much power. Communities Rise will be hiring to grow our legal and capacity building teams – watch for more announcements to come and check our website for new job opportunities. We’ll also be digging into strategic planning this year, complemented by some really exciting board changes. The Communities Rise Board is thrilled about embarking on this new journey of shared leadership with the new Co-Executive Directors and our dedicated staff. Part of this journey includes the board’s intention to explore outside traditional board culture – being open to increased ownership and initiative and being adaptive to new challenges. As we begin this journey, the board is centering staff needs, capacity, and working relationships as we develop the board’s new roles, responsibilities, and goals.
Fund Our Organizational Sustainability
Your support of Communities Rise is an investment in this new leadership structure and a more collaborative era of leadership in our sector. Shared leadership strengthens our long-term sustainability as one of the only capacity building and legal services providers to small businesses and nonprofits in Washington State. While this model makes sense for the current size and scope of our team, we will be regularly examining what works and changing what doesn’t. And because peer learning is a central part of our philosophy, we’re committed to being open with you about what we’re learning along the way. Thank you for your support.