Roland Fryer, Peter Sims Confirmed to Speak at 2013 CEP Conference

Roland Fryer and Peter Sims are confirmed to speak at CEP’s 2013 conference, “Pursuing Results: Effective Foundation Practice,” to be held May 20-22 at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, MI.

Fryer is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University and a 2011 MacArthur Foundation Fellow. Drawing on his work designing innovative empirical and theoretical investigations that explore the disparate educational trajectories of minority children, he will share new insights into how data and quantitative analysis can help unlock solutions to some of our toughest social challenges.

Sims, award-winning entrepreneur and author of Little Bets, will be on hand to discuss how breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries. Through his research he has found that, rather than starting with a big idea and a fully developed project plan, taking a methodical series of experimental steps allows you to learn critical information from little failures –  finding unexpected routes toward extraordinary outcomes.

The conference is designed for CEOs, trustees, and senior managers of larger foundations (with annual grants of $5 million or more) who will have the opportunity to share knowledge and gain resources to help them maximize their effectiveness. Early registration will open in September.

CEP’s Ellie Buteau Named 2012 NGen Fellow

CEP Vice President – Research Ellie Buteau has been selected by Independent Sector as one of twelve 2012 American Express NGen Fellows. Designed to expand and improve the nonprofit talent pool by developing the skills and networks of emerging leaders, the fellowship provides an opportunity for leadership development programming, interaction with established mentors, substantive collaboration on a group project, and participation in the annual IS conference.

NGen Fellows are selected for their ability to “demonstrate a  commitment to advancing the nonprofit community through collaboration and partnership; have an established track record of high-impact contributions to the public good; and exhibit leadership potential for their organization and, more broadly, for the nonprofit community.”  The fellowship will run from August 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Ellie has been recognized for her leadership,” said Center for Effective Philanthropy President Phil Buchanan. “Her contributions to improving the effectiveness of major foundations through the research she has led cannot be overstated.”

Buteau joined CEP in 2004 and has held a variety of positions at the organization in the subsequent years. She authored or co-authored all of CEP’s major research publications since her arrival and was promoted to Vice President – Research in 2009. In that capacity, she oversees all of CEP’s research projects and manages a team of five CEP staff. Most recently, Buteau authored reports on foundation performance assessment and strategy at community foundations that have received significant attention. She was also the opening plenary speaker at CEP’s 2011 national conference for foundation leaders.

Buteau is the second CEP staff member to be selected as an NGen Fellow. Kevin Bolduc, CEP’s Vice President – Assessment Tools, received the honor in 2009. “CEP has been blessed to be able to attract and retain young people who have assumed significant leadership positions and positively influenced the nonprofit sector through their work,” said Buchanan.

To learn more about this year’s fellows, visit the program’s website.

CEP Adds Two Members to Senior Management Team

CEP has added two new members to its senior management team, appointing Mark Russell as Director of Communications & Programming and Brian Hughes as the organization’s first Director of Talent.

Russell will step in to lead the Communications and Programming team, responsible for spreading CEP’s mission and work to the public, marketing CEP’s research and assessment tools, managing CEP’s website and social media presence, as well as organizing CEP’s conferences and events.

He most recently served as Chief Communications Officer and Chair of the Executive Management Team of Physicians for Human Rights, a Nobel Peace Prize winning human rights organization. He has previously held positions at Hunt Alternatives Fund, The Trustees of Reservations in Beverly, MA, Hasbro Interactive, and the Appalachian Mountain Club. He earned a Master’s in History from the University of New Hampshire and an undergraduate degree in Government from Dartmouth College.

“Mark is a tremendously accomplished communications executive who also brings relevant experience in philanthropy,” said CEP President Phil Buchanan. “He will be a significant new addition to CEP’s leadership team.”

Hughes is responsible for all aspects of talent acquisition and cultivation at CEP, including overseeing the hiring and onboarding processes, as well as managing CEP’s professional evaluation, development, and training programs.

He comes to CEP from The Cadmus Group, a national environmental science, strategic communications, and energy efficiency consulting firm, where he served as Senior Recruiter. He has also previously worked as a Corporate Recruiter with Children’s Hospital Boston. In this role, he helped develop and coordinate the COACH high school internship program for Boston Public School students. Hughes holds a Master’s of Science in Human Resources from Suffolk University and an undergraduate degree in Human Resources Studies and Business Administration from The University of Scranton.

“I am thrilled to welcome Brian to CEP in this newly created role,” said Buchanan. “He has already made his presence felt in profoundly positive ways.”

CEP Releases 2011 Annual Report

CEP has released its 2011 Annual Report, which depicts in numbers the organization’s accomplishments over the past year. The report highlights key data on CEP’s performance, including data on the reach and influence of its tools, research, communications, YouthTruth initiative, and conference, as well as financial information on the organization.

“2011 was a significant year for CEP,” said CEP President Phil Buchanan. “It marked our 10th anniversary and it was a year of considerable accomplishment.”

CEP chose to tell the story of its work through numbers to emphasize its commitment to self-assessment. In addition to the annual report, all third-party evaluations CEP commissions are made public in their entirety on the organization’s website.

CEP to Release New Research on Social Media, Nonprofit Performance Assessment, and Staff Perceptions

CEP will release several new research reports in the coming months, including a report on whether foundation grantees are using foundation social media resources. That report, due out this summer, is based on new survey questions on social media added to CEP’s Grantee Perception Report (GPR).

CEP will also release its first report based on a survey of its new Grantee Voice panel this fall. The survey explores nonprofits’ practices and attitudes in regard to performance measurement, as well as what support they are looking for from their funders.

Finally, later this year, CEP will release the results of its first effort to analyze staff perception data from more than 30 large foundations whose employees CEP has surveyed. The report will examine the key components of staff satisfaction.

“It’s a busy time for us,” said CEP Vice President-Research Ellie Buteau. “We are looking forward to sharing what we have learned with foundation leaders to inform their practice.”

Bailin Completes Term, Oliphant Joins CEP Board

CEP’s May board meeting brought significant changes, with the departure of a longstanding colleague and the arrival of a new one.

Michael Bailin, former President & CEO of The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, completed his second three-year term on the board. At a farewell dinner, CEP President Phil Buchanan reflected on the profound influence Bailin has had on CEP during his tenure, saying, “Mike has always pushed CEP to be a better organization, and also to be yet clearer about what we could and could not claim as our influence. He has been the best board member a board member could be. I know he will continue to be involved with CEP in the years to come, but I am grateful to have the opportunity to thank him here, now, for all he has done.”

Several fellow board members also shared their appreciation for his leadership, especially when it comes to his calls for humility in the face of philanthropy’s challenges. Kathryn Merchant, President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and current chair of CEP’s board, spoke of Bailin’s lasting legacy: “Your mark on CEP is indelible — we will never be able to say the words ‘ultimate outcomes’ and ‘impact’ without thinking fondly of you.”

Joining the board for the first time was Grant Oliphant, President & CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, whose three-year term officially began May 15. A past user of CEP’s assessment tools, he has been a longtime source of encouragement and advice for the organization. Oliphant previously spent 15 years working at the Heinz Endowments and currently serves as a director on a host of local and national boards.

“Grant Oliphant has a stellar and well-deserved reputation in the philanthropic sector as a champion of effectiveness” said Merchant. “That and his combination of private and community foundation experience make him a valuable addition to our board.”

Recent Webinars Highlight SLT and SPR Tools

On June 27, CEP will host the final installment of a three-part webinar series highlighting the Strategy Landscape Tool (SLT). The SLT, an online interactive data-visualization tool developed by the Monitor Institute, addresses the challenge funders face in communicating and collaborating with each other as they mobilize resources to achieve shared goals. This conclusion to the series will focus on regional associations and affinity groups and how they can use the tool to collaborate effectively.

Nearly 100 people registered for the first of the three webinars, hosted on April 25. Kevin Bolduc, CEP Vice President – Assessment Tools, and Mendi Blue, Strategy Landscape Tool Manager, demonstrated how this tool works and discussed some of its key benefits, such as allowing funders to understand who is funding what by strategy.

Bolduc and Blue continued the series on June 13 with a webinar on the utility of the tool for individual foundations. Fran Loosen, Knowledge Officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, shared her experience with the Strategy Landscape Tool and how it has helped inform the foundation’s work.

Previously, a national audience tuned in for a webinar hosted on May 30 to discuss the value of gathering candid, comparative feedback from staff, and what makes CEP’s Staff Perception Report a unique tool. The hour-long program featured representatives from the Rockefeller Brothers FundMichael Klompus, Director of Human Resources, and Hope Lyons, Director of Grants Management. Klompus and Lyons shared their experience with the process and explained how the Fund is using its results to engage staff and enhance internal culture. Kevin Bolduc gave an in-depth overview of the SPR process and answered questions participants submitted. A full recording of this webinar is available here. Those interested in exploring how the SPR could be valuable to them should contact CEP Manager Austin Long.

CEP Welcomes New Manager

Mendi Blue has joined CEP as a Manager responsible for the Strategy Landscape Tool (SLT), a data-visualization tool developed by the Monitor Institute and delivered by CEP. In her role at CEP, Blue will be responsible for marketing and delivering the SLT both to individual funders and groups of funders that want to better understand and visualize where there money is going, segmented by strategy – as opposed to the broad categories into which grants are typically categorized.

Prior to joining CEP, Blue was a management consultant providing strategic advisory and operations services to startup clients seeking to raise capital, improve business processes, expand market reach and launch new products. Blue’s professional experience also includes founding two consumer internet businesses and work as an internal strategy consultant at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and as a summer legal associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.  She began her professional career as a compliance officer on the trading floor at Goldman, Sachs & Co. where she was a registered broker. Blue is an adjunct professor of Business Management and Finance at American Public University. She holds a BA in Economics from Harvard College, an MBA from Harvard Business School and a JD from Harvard Law School.

She rounds out a team of assessment tool managers, joining Amber Bradley, Austin Long, and Grace Nicolette. “I am very pleased that Mendi has joined CEP,” said CEP Vice President – Assessment Tools Kevin Bolduc. “Too many funders are inhibited in their effectiveness by a lack of good data about who is funding what, by strategy. The SLT helps solve that problem and Mendi is ideally positioned to work with our foundation clients to deliver this tool.”

New Look, New Content for the CEP Blog

CEP has redesigned its blog to improve the user experience, taking advantage of new media to make content both more easily digestible and more intuitively accessible for the blog’s growing readership.

The new site allows multiple posts to be featured at once, complete with an enhanced visual element, replacing the long, chronological scroll of text that existed before. New menus call out the most popular posts and highlight comment threads that have seen the most recent action. If readers find a post they especially enjoy, they are now directed to similar posts at the end of every entry.

“We undertook this effort to improve the blog in recognition of the fact that it has become among the most widely read by foundation leaders,” said CEP’s Senior Coordinator of Communications & Programming Stephen Sullivan.

Recent posts on the blog include a six-part series by Phil Buchanan, clarifying the boundaries between the business and nonprofit sectors. “We idealize companies and markets in a way that defies reality, creates unrealistic expectations, diminishes the contributions (past, present, and future) of nonprofits, and confuses our conversation about the very challenges we face,” he writes. “We do so despite the unrelenting procession of examples of the downsides of unchecked pursuit of profit. And in so doing, we run the risk of dismissing the vital role of nonprofits: organizations seeking to make a difference without the pressure and potential conflicts that come with the profit motive.”