CBS Alumni Club of Boston Gives Back - Fall 2009
On behalf of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of Boston, we would like to thank and recognize the following volunteers for participating in the third pro bono project of the CBS Alumni Club of Boston Gives Back initiative this past fall. Collectively, they dedicated approximately 500 hours of their time during this 12-week project:
Supriyo Dey, Class of 2007
Vincent Fung, Class of 2009
Evan Jacobs, Class of 2007
Cathy McCarthy, Class of 1979
Naomi Nuta (spouse of Evan Jacobs ’07 and Columbia B.A. 2001)
Lei-Choon Ong, Class of 1997
Barbara Wipf, Class of 2000
Please find attached a letter of appreciation from the Executive Director and Board Chair.
The Client: The Asperger's Association of New England is a rapidly-growing 13-year-old non-profit organization with the mission of improving the quality of life for those with Asperger Syndrome (AS). Their mission is to foster awareness, respect, acceptance, and support for individuals with AS and related conditions and their families. AS is a neurological condition - people who have AS are born with it, and have it for life, although as they mature they may gain new skills, outgrow some of their AS traits, or use their strengths to compensate for their areas of disability. AS is generally considered a form of autism, an autism spectrum disorder.
AANE’s key objective for this project was to improve the organizational structure (and they were open to all ideas), specifically between Watertown (the HQ) and the organization's 7 chapters. Their goal is to take their "start-up" non-profit to "the next level," and requested that the CBS team explore the current organizational relationships within AANE.
The Project: Barbara Wipf '00, a member of the team, said, "Working on the CBS Gives Back program this fall was an extremely rewarding experience for me. I was hoping to keep my resume fresh while doing some good for a local charity, but what I got out of it (and put in!) far surpassed my expectations. The charity was dear to my heart because of how Asperger's Syndrome has touched those around me, but I never realized how fulfilling it would be to know that our group was truly making a difference for those in the AS community. Working with folks in the non-profit community was an eye-opener for me as I witnessed a level of dedication and selflessness that I hadn't experienced in my professional career. And I learned so much from the other 6 CBS alums in our project group as each of us brought different expertise to the table: project management, presentation skills, strategic planning. Their level of commitment and zeal was very inspiring. The project was a lot of hard work but the personal payoff was tremendous."
After a 12-week project, the 7 volunteer consultants completed a successful final presentation to the full board of directors on December 8, 2009. "I am grateful that this project offered me a unique opportunity to leverage different skill sets to solve an organization problem. The direct interactions made me feel that I learned a lot more about Asperger Syndrome and how I can make a bigger impact in the community," Vincent Fung '09 remarked.
38 people were interviewed individually for this project, including board members, key staff, management, and chapter directors. Research was conducted on AANE programs as well as similar Asperger's organizations nationally, and the competitive landscape in the New England area and other non-profit business models were analyzed as well. In the end, this information was synthesized and presented, including 4 potential recommendations for AANE’s future organizational structure and role in New England. AANE will use the group's presentation as a starting point to begin the rigorous discussion on how to grow and excel moving forward.
Based on a typical billable hours measurement, the 7 volunteers spent approximately 500 hours on this project. Our CBS pro-bono consultants visited the Watertown HQ a couple of times, had several breakout meetings with the Strategic Planning Committee as well as the organization's board chair and executive director, and met as a team frequently. The results were vetted with AANE and understood prior to the final presentation to the full board.
"I thought the presentation was amazingly well-received. The remarks I heard after were thoughtful as well as appreciative. I felt we delivered some extremely useful information and perspective that they can act on going forward. It was definitely worth the time!" Cathy McCarthy '75 said.
A special thank you to the volunteers! Please stay tuned for 2010 news on exciting CBS Alumni Club of Boston Gives Back initiatives. We hope to have repeat volunteers and gather some new ones too!
Lei-Choon Ong '97
VP of Philanthropy, Columbia Business School Alumni Club of Boston