By Kirk Kardashian, January 2013
Published Jan 25, 2013
Community Consulting Teams (CCT) of Boston is nothing new to Tuckies.
The organization, which provides free consulting services to nonprofits, was co-founded by Carolyn McGuire T’83 in 1991 and has recruited more than 100 Tuck alumni to help with its mission. Since its founding, CCT has completed close to 130 projects for 100 different clients, and it has always been a place where Tuck alumni and other MBAs can give their time in substantive ways, regardless if they are just embarking on a career, balancing mid-life demands, or have recently retired.
All three motivations were probably present in the team of Tuckies who consulted for the Children’s Trust Fund of Massachusetts (CTF) in 2012. The group was comprised of Kathy Schaller T’94 (project sponsor), Liz Thorne T’90 (project manager), Peter Clay T’83 (project manager), Jim Becker T’75, Alex Burgess T’09, Ross Guida T’11, Bruce Jones T’69, Susan Shepard T’07, and Lea Tompsett T’06. “The team is a very good example of a mix of generations coming together to make a difference,” said McGuire.
CTF thought so, too. In fact, it named the group Volunteer of the Year for the strong impact of its consulting. CTF is a public-private partnership that works to end child abuse by strengthening families, and it applied to CCT because it needed help with its communications strategy.
“They had great experience and plans for programs and advocacy,” explained Schaller, who has worked in management, product, and strategy consulting. “But one prong of their strategy was awareness, and they wanted to address all parents in Massachusetts.” Schaller figured CTF probably didn’t have the budget to reach that big of an audience, so the team suggested using social media to segment the population and target specific towns and parenting needs. Ultimately, the Tuck team produced a marketing plan for CTF and did an organizational evaluation to help the nonprofit develop a job description for a new communications director. Then the team linked the two reports by participating in interviews to select the director most able to implement the marketing plan. Finally, in an impressive show of respect for CCT’s expertise, the CTF board followed the advice of the CCT project team to change the name of the organization from Children’s Trust Fund to simply Children’s Trust. “In our 40-minute meeting with the CTF board, they voted to adopt our solution to a branding issue that had been debated for years,” said Schaller, “so we had credibility.”
In giving the Volunteer of the Year award to the team at a special event in November, CTF’s deputy director Brent Ayles said, “CTF has benefitted from a wide array of volunteerism over the years, but it is seldom to have a group of volunteers that had have such a positive and transformative impact as this year’s recipients.”
Just about a week ago, CCT launched a set of 12 consulting projects for 2013. The clients include the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Cambridge School Volunteers, Cape & Islands Self-Reliance Corporation, and Children’s HealthWatch Boston, among others. Once again, there is an all-Tuck team. Comprised of project sponsor Lisa Howe T’86 and project managers Mate Converse T’97 and Andrew Haggard T’03, along with Kristen Balderston T'84, Carolyn Zern T'09, Celia Chase T'97, and James Tenner T'82. The team will be helping the Center for Women and Enterprise develop a long-term sustainable revenue stream through a mentor program. Tuck alumni are also serving on mixed-school teams and the CCT Board.
CCT’s project schedule follows a predictable pattern, beginning in January and ending in June every year. “It offers a fair amount of flexibility, as far as stepping in at a time that’s right,” said McGuire, “even if it’s possible that eight months down the road their full-time job will send them to the Middle East.” Getting involved with CCT is also easy because there are different levels of commitment, from project managers to team members to project sponsors, who serve as liaisons to the CCT board.
The benefits of volunteering with CCT extend beyond feeling good about helping society, noted Schaller. “I’ve really enjoyed that I’ve worked with Tuck people whom I never would have known,” she said. “I knew the people in my class, but you don’t get a sense of people from across the spectrum of alumni. I feel more connected with Tuck through this than I have in a long time.”