Change in leadership is perhaps one of the most stressful transitions an organization can go through. When Marlene Fried, longtime Director of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program, a reproductive rights organization located at Hampshire College that cultivates young activists, was ready to explore what might happen when she eventually stepped down, she called on MAG to prepare the organization for a proactive, healthy leadership transition.
“We’ve existed for a long time at Hampshire College, and we wanted to take a close look at how our program was sustainable at the college, independent of my relationships,” Fried says. With MAG’s assistance, the program embarked on a two-stage process: First, clarifying the organization’s mission and values and identifying what aspects of the organization needed strengthening for a leadership change to be successful; and second, strategy development.
Fried says that prior to working with MAG, there was enormous anxiety about a leadership transition in her organization, which has two directors, seven staff members, and many work study students. “Now the process is demystified,” she says. “We’re hoping that long term we all see a way through that isn’t terrifying.”
After working closely with MAG, the organization has a clear sense of what needs to be done to keep the program sustainable long-term. One immediate result, Fried notes, has been changes in staff roles and responsibilities and the creation of an operations team that makes the organization more effective and more sustainable. “We’re really grateful. Everyone really liked engaging in the strategic planning process, and that engagement has continued. That’s attributable to MAG.”
MAG’s deep knowledge of the reproductive rights field was also key to the success of the program’s transition planning process, Fried adds. “We didn’t have to do a lot of explaining about what the broader landscape looked like. As a result, MAG was able to help us get more clarity about where we fit within that larger landscape.”