Talent + Innovation: Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation

The Challenge

The Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCo)’s mission is to build affordable housing that is anchored in strong communities that residents can be proud of. WHEDCo had a staff of two when they were founded in 1991 – today they have grown to serve more than 15,000 individuals each year, with a staff of over 100. This sustained growth has had a tremendous impact in the community but has resulted in WHEDCo’s multiple departments operating in isolation from each other. WHEDCo needed help to reconnect departments to each other and to the vision of the organization.  

What We Did

CRE facilitated a team-building retreat for 20 of WHEDCo’s senior managers to engage them in cross-department discussion and planning. We focused on providing a platform that allowed WHEDCo’s program managers to talk with and learn from each other. We did this by breaking the managers into groups to run through visioning exercises about their work within the organization and WHEDCo’s future, before bringing everyone back together and comparing people’s thoughts. Participants engaged with each other in a series of creative visioning exercises that encouraged them to think expansively about their departments before bringing them together to discuss their collective vision for the organization.

Impact

Through the retreat WHEDCo managers were able to see the similarities and differences between the departments and understand why there were varying viewpoints. Soon a dialogue emerged that would never have happened in the workspace. The retreat gave WHEDCo managers a shared vision from which they were able to eventually develop annual goals, and thoughtful plans designed to achieve these goals. In addition, the group left the session feeling more connected and committed to closer collaboration among departments.   

“Honestly, I wouldn’t use anybody else. There are other consultants who work with nonprofits in New York but CRE is far and away the best. Working with CRE I am confident that I’m getting the most expert and informed advice. They don’t tell you what to do but they lay out an array of possibilities that inevitably lead you in the best direction.”

- Nancy Biberman, Executive Director, Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation