Transcendent Partnership

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Purchase all classes as a bundled package to view any time you need to refer to a concept or implement a strategy for your community and economic development programming. You’ll have them right at your finger tips! All downloadable forms are included and Chapter One is free. Head to the Library, review chapter agendas and determine if this information is helpful to you. Below each screen you may also purchase individual classes and access all forms.

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Customized Workshops:

Are you ready to expand on what you’ve learned through Transcendent Partnership with your colleagues and/or community partners? Host Mary for an afternoon, or a day, to share these collective impact hacks in a customized workshop specifically tailored for your organization and initiatives. Perhaps you’ve already taken the classes or are wondering if this is something your co-workers could benefit from. Head to the Contact tab and send a note to Mary requesting a workshop consultation. She is available to work with your organization on partnership mapping, maximization and troubleshooting your project to most effectively leverage further resources.

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Online Group Coaching:

In addition to each of the chapter class tutorials and downloadable templates, you’ll have the opportunity to work directly with Mary by identifying webinar topics and then participating in live Q&A sessions. A free project assessment is included with supply chain mapping for partnership accountability, transparency, challenge assessment and funder “story telling”. Invite a co-worker to join you on the webinar and you’ll receive 10% off!

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Executive Coaching:

All chapter tutorials, downloadable forms, three webinars with live Q&A and free project assessment are provided. Partner leadership, strategic communication, business strategy, negotiation and personal development are also provided for six months (unless otherwise determined based on your community development project length needs).

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Partnership Development:

Tired of spinning your wheels and realize your partners’ operating systems or cultures are stagnating your joint community goals? Get to the bottom of it through logic modeling and business strategy with guided communication for win-win outcomes. (Pricing will vary)

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Organizational Development:

Through empowered leadership and vision have you or your staff noticed that your own organizational polices, procedures or behaviors may be impeding joint-community outcomes? How well do you work with others? Have other organizations come to you and requested changes for ease of partnership? It takes real courage to move beyond identification to action planning and implementation for resolution and group transcendence. Ready to speed up development and assess how your organization is functioning within the community-group dynamic? Working with Mary in a retreat-style format, you’ll line up your mission with a road map to speed up collective impact goals and walk away with immediately implementable action items. This is coupled with one-on-one and group coaching to walk through stagnancy and hurdles to you, your organization and others’ development for collective impact. (Pricing will vary)

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 All packages available only through PayPal. To use a different method of payment please use the Contact form and work directly with Mary.

Q&A with Mary ZumBrunnen


Mary, thanks again for the presentation! Here’s a challenge I am facing in CityName:

CityName‘s City Council has gone through a series of issues in the last three years, with the worst being that the former city manager felt forced to take a job elsewhere. This essentially left CityName without a city manager for almost the last two years. A city manager was hired last fall, yet they caused more harm than good in the 90 days they were employed. The new city manager is expected to be in place by September, but interviews have not yet been scheduled. While the council is not a full representation of the community, it’s combativeness is indicative of where the community is at on most issues. With great tension between council and city staff, and without strong leadership from city hall, how does the community work toward addressing its most critical issues (housing, workforce development, concentrated poverty, food insecurity)?

Attempts at community conversations within the last three years have made little impact. Conversations were held specifically regarding CityName public schools’ annexation, which is what has caused the greatest strife in the community recently. Individual discussions regarding how to garner more participation have yielded responses that “it really matters WHO is hosting an event.” Yet, few people or organizations have been willing to host community events that address the root causes of the issues, namely the effects of racism and classism. Obviously, most people aren’t going to want to come out to talk about those things and maybe talking about them directly is not advantageous.

Again, any suggestions on how to move forward on big projects without strong leadership from city hall would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to let me know if I should provide any additional information. Thank you for your offer to help!

“Name Withheld”, Small City in Southwest Michigan


Hi “Name Withheld”:

Sorry to hear about the transition and lack of leadership. Do you have a sense of the community anchor organizations that are stable around the various issues – from poverty to food insecurity? Who hosted and where were the conversations about the annexation held? I understand turf and systemic issues are the focus and possibly the crux…so it might be better to lighten up on pushing issues (at risk of fracturing further) and zoom out to assess where all are at and what common ground can be leveraged. This isn’t a crisis midway through a project-type-deal. This is a “need to get going” kinda thing. So motivation and small wins would be the focus.

City Hall would be a good neutral location – even if it doesn’t seem neutral – because it’s government and you’re neutral as a consultant. A county economic development entity would be too. What is the relation with a local community foundation?

Backing off on issue-specific topic areas could be a good way to regroup and instead talk about what’s working (ultimately with the intention of building partnership to address the rest). One way to do this is to gather useful organizations for a “strategic alignment” meeting or similar. The purpose being to note where there is overlap in partnership and services (as low hanging fruit) so you can see where the Grand Canyon sized gaps are – but you’re keeping that documented in the background for now. At that refocus meeting, almost like an asset inventory, you’d be able to harness some of the community spirit. People can brag. And the point is to compare strategic plans for alignment to see what hidden capacity building might be squeezed out. As a peace broker, if you can get a hold of (or Google) their strategic plans prior to, or host a facilitated event to piece them together like a rubik’s cube, then you can see what is actually working at the macro level. From this, if folks step forward, you could create a workgroup to assess where the community has major holes. Those same areas will show up – poverty to food insecurity… For example, perhaps there is no agricultural workgroup but for a few farmers who show up to a market with no direction or funding.

Likely you’ve already identified this and most other anchors know it, as well. They probably talk about it all the time and point fingers. But, it is worth talking in a professional group setting and documenting with folks on good behavior. A great press release comes out of this. Org’s with wider reach are more likely to take notice – like a social justice institution – or family foundation with which you can start to build a relationship and seek advice. In two years that might turn into funding – you never know. What will get them together to have a neutral conversation and why would it be worth their time?? That’s the lynch pin… A positive focal point from which to pivot instead of continuing to stare at and dig into holes would be (with aligned plans) inviting a larger resource – like US Econ Dev Admin or MI Dept of Ag & Rural Dev – to come to the next meeting and offer their assistance based on your prior homework.

If they know you’ve done this work of plan alignment, EDA is happy to come in and facilitate a workshop on what grants are available for CityName’s specific situation. If you can’t do the alignment yourself, they are open to providing some hand holding and walk a community through it. Sometimes a larger gov agency with promise of incentive is a great way to get comm org’s out of fighting mode and into a more open mind set because they don’t know what’s available until they do the work. Sitting side by side at round tables talking about what their org’s do well and adding to the puzzle is somewhat fulfilling in itself and offers a huge amount of info (that I know foundations like to see you’ve collected). It’s like a treasure hunt. If it’s EDA invited, then they’ll chaperone you through the alignment process. A win like this – even before something is funded – helps build cohesion and a sense of positive forward movement that can help build a better foundation for the next Manager. It also (without pointing a direct finger) highlights who is being an unruly entity(s) in the community and shines a light on snowballing consequences. An example might be a soup kitchen, say the only one in town, that never follows through. If they complain through the whole thing but haven’t come up with resources in five years while sitting next to a giving entity and commissioner while bad-talking the City, they will probably quiet down the negativity when they don’t have as much to share. They’ll also sit up and listen hoping to get something useful from the giving entity. That charity might tap the commissioner later for a letter of support. And so they lean on one another…

That’s what I would recommend for loosely reorganizing entities around a positive and broad topic area to see what is actually working without bluntly saying so. It’s like backing up out of a snow heap to go around it and continue forward without plowing through and getting stuck worse. It hits the same ultimate goal of addressing poverty or food insecurity but offers a pathway forward that’s open to all interested in participating and sheds light on strengths and weaknesses while incentivizing addressing the weaknesses by a larger neutral entity – state or federal. Is that helpful? If EDA comes back and this year the buzz words and funding is focused on a specific goal then that’s what CityName would have to aim at anyhow (rather than arguing) because that’s what’s available. So, they can’t get caught on a branch. Once relations smooth out and hopefully after a community win, this type of assessment is a good one to jump from for focusing in on issue-specific effects stemming from systemic roots. So, if broadly economic development assistance is available, CityName figures their alignment, and is funded (say something like water treatment support because that’s what immediately best works)….then there is a win for citizens and organizations to talk about deeper issues later like trust and environmental justice. Supporting energies will then come to table as well as media.

What are your thoughts? Happy to help facilitate a strategic alignment and state, federal or academic partner invitation. Just FYI – before you work with EDA make sure your economic development plan is on file!


Listen to Mary on ‘Successful Nonprofits’

Podcast coming soon…

Watch Mary’s Webinar with Community Economic Development Association of Michigan

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