On March 16-17th, the NVF held its first-ever strategic planning summit at its headquarters in LA. This historic step forward for the Foundation included the Board of Directors and NVF staff members, and also participation from numerous stakeholders, strong supporters from outside our organization, all meeting together to brainstorm the future of the NVF. Our loyal stakeholders came from other veteran service agencies, local business people, the LA County Department of Mental Health, members of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University, and the School of Social Work at USC, to mention just a few.
Leading the meeting were John Ruffin, NVF Board Chair, and Board member Bart Buechner, both veterans. The strategic planning model used is called SOAR, for strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results, as a strongly positive approach to looking at the future. The enjoyable and productive discussions utilized an approach called “World Cafe.” In a cafe setting—round tables with checkered cloths— 5-6 participants gathered at each table in open discussion during twenty-minute sessions. Following each session, all groups were shuffled such that by the end of the afternoon, every participant had been able to interact with every other person there and the collective results were the absolute best thinking from all present.
Working from a pre-meeting electronic survey on strategic issues, we began by identifying our core strengths and values, then brainstormed opportunities for the future. The day was fast-paced, rich with shared ideas, and incredibly productive. The second day the Board met to review what had been generated in the full group and begin to make strategic plans.
Besides the strengthening of relationships, probably the most productive outcome was the initiation of the NVF Campaign for Sustainability. You’ll be hearing more about this as we move forward. For now, we’re excited about what lies ahead, and more than a little proud of what we’ve accomplished. The concept of a vet-to-vet helpline, begun over 30 years ago, has served nearly 450,000 veterans and their family members. We’re crafting a plan to expand that number. Come grow with us!