Businesses and nonprofits can benefit from a little Conscious Coalition Consulting￼
Mary Christa Smith enjoys helping organizations reach their potentials
The first word in Mary Christa Smith’s Conscious Coalition Consulting is the foundation of her company’s approach in helping for-profit and nonprofit organizations and businesses realize their plans, goals and missions.
“My consulting work has risen from a desire and a need to do things differently and holistically,” said Smith. “The creation of my business has arisen from a deep need for organizations to do things differently. I’ve had folks whom I had worked with throughout the community who have asked for some guidance and expertise, and that request really sparked my interest in creating my own consulting company.”
Organizations have contacted Smith for a number of reasons.
“Some are new ventures that they are looking to get off the ground, and they want to set a solid foundation on which to build upon,” she said. “Oftentimes that requires alignment and stakeholder engagement.”
Some organizations and businesses reach out to Smith because they have hit an evolutionary point of their run and are needing to adapt to the changes in the business and nonprofit community.
“They’ve been rolling along for a number of years in a certain way and want to shift or update their strategic plan or revisit some key programs and require skillful ways to do that,” she said.
Other Times, organizations will ask Smith to help find ways to get employers, employees, board members, volunteers and other stakeholders on the same page.
“There is a need for artful facilitation, which many aren’t trained to do, to help people engage the group in meaningful processes, how to read rooms and how to have the challenging conversations and create a context and a container that allows those conversations,” she said. “Done well, those conversations can be transformative, but done poorly, they can be destructive. And so many people avoid having these conversations out of fear of what the consequences may be. So I would say I’m rather fearless, willing and able and comfortable doing that kind of work.”
Smith’s foray into artful facilitation comes from developing facilitation skills throughout the past 25 years that include executive director positions at Communities That Care Summit County, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of families and children through prevention, and Summit Community Power Works, another local nonprofit that works to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through multiple community engagement programs.
“I have a lot of tools and processes that bring ideas down into grounded reality,” she said. Sometimes organizations need coaching work and other times organizations need a structured template to help them achieve their goals, according to Smith.
“I find my role is to help them be thoughtful and deliberate and measured so the foundation they put in place can hold the big vision they have,” she said.
To effectively help these concerns, Smith has instigated a five-step process.
- Iluminate — going in and getting a lay of the land within an organization through the leaders and stakeholders.
- Harmonizing — accessing the chaos and misalignment by looking at things from different layers of engagement — mission, vision, values, operations policies, protocols and how teams function — in a more holistic view
- Energizing — working on strategic planning, retreats, building plans and creating websites from a whole place
- Grounding — bringing things into form
- Regeneration — recognizing that organizations are constantly evolving and looking at that in terms of seasons and cycles so they can go through the changes in generative, healthy and viable ways to help people do the good work they want to do.
“I came up with these five steps because I’ve often found that people try to solve deeper-level issues by solving issues at a surface level,” she said. “They will be curious about the identity of their organization and the work they do, and they’ll try to gain clarity through selecting a logo or developing a website. But they need to know that they have to first back up and do deeper internal work first and let the development of those outward facing elements flow from the core.”
Sometimes organizations and businesses will try to solve other deep-rooted concerns by making minor adjustments, such as changing the time of a meeting or sending out board-member agreements, Smith said.
“I would say my superpower is how I guide people into what is really happening underneath,” she said. “When they recognize what is going on, I can help them do the harmonizing work that needs to happen.”
Smith formed Conscious Coalition Consulting as an LLC about a year ago, because she was getting requests from organizations and businesses she loved to help with facilitation.
“It’s been in the dream phase and in the works for a couple of years,” she said. “There’s a lot of talk about that sweet spot where what you love, what the world needs and what you’re good at doing all come together. And my consulting business allows me to focus on that spot.”
Echo Church travels into the past with a Transcontinental Railroad exhibit
Tourists and residents can immerse themselves in the past through free, self-guided tours at the historic Echo Church.
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