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Join us for a conversation with nonprofit leaders recently highlighted in Crain’s Chicago Business magazine. Moderated by Crain’s nonprofit reporter, Lisa Bertagnoli, this workshop will open with a panel discussion between Jackie Edens, CEO of Inner Voice, Alli Henry, COO of The People’s Music School, and Michelle Larson, CEO of Adler Planetarium. It will also include guided breakout sessions for deep change at your own organization.

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Come spend Halloween morning with the Axelson Center and one of our most popular presenters, Sidney C. Freitag-Fey, and learn how to make your annual giving appeal less spooky! 

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How Concordia Place won the Alford-Axelson Award...and gained much more in the process
  Brenda Swartz

Concordia Place uses age-appropriate activities such as story time, music and simple games to develop a lifelong love of learning.
 
Establishing and communicating your organizational values is an excellent way to ensure buy-in from staff, clients and other stakeholders. When Brenda Swartz, President and CEO of Concordia Place, decided to apply for the Axelson Center’s Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence in 2013, she found that working through the application process itself was an exercise in improving organizational management and provided a helpful trigger to zoom in on values.

“The application process was an opportunity to review key areas of our operations and honestly ask ourselves what we could do better,” Swartz said in a recent interview. “We realized that, with our growth, we wanted to ensure that our culture continued – and that required that we define it and write it down.” After realizing this, Concordia, an organization that provides proactive solutions to key social needs through economically inclusive early childhood, teen leadership and senior wellness programs on the north side of Chicago, developed their five Guiding Principles –Faith in Action, a Place of Yes, a Place for All, a Place of One, and a Place of Excellence. Concordia continues to use the Principles to guide everyday actions as an organization and as individuals.

“The full-range of criteria reviewed for the Alford-Axelson Award are pillars of excellence for any organization. The application process and subsequent award lent credibility to the importance of strong, efficient and effective operations to support our mission work.

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The Axelson Center awards program is designed to recognize managerial excellence in the nonprofit sector in Chicago and its surrounding communities. Since 2002, the Alford-Axelson Award has recognized organizations that embody exemplary organizational management qualities. Through practice and performance, these organizations exhibit qualities of the seven Hallmarks of Nonprofit Managerial ExcellenceSM: Mission and Program, Leadership and Governance, Strategy and Innovation, Human Resources, Financial Strength and Performance, Resource Generation and External Relations, and Accountability and Integrity.

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  Concordia strengthened their Strategy and Innovation, one of Axelson’s Hallmarks of Nonprofit Managerial ExcellenceSM as they developed their five guiding principles to guide everyday actions.
 

Working with Axelson, Concordia has achieved “big and bold accomplishments.” Like most nonprofit organizations, Concordia has developed a strategic plan, but according to Swartz, Concordia also uses “a purposeful review process to keep the vision fresh in our minds and its execution on track.” This allows the organization to develop a strategic plan with a long-term vision in addition to an annual plan with specific initiatives to advance strategies.

According to Swartz, “the full-range of criteria reviewed for the Alford-Axelson Award are pillars of excellence for any organization. The application process and subsequent award lent credibility to the importance of strong, efficient and effective operations to support our mission work.”

“We were proud to receive the Alford-Axelson Nonprofit Managerial Excellence Award! It was a great reason to reach out and share this achievement with our supporters and partners,” Swartz continued.

The Excellent Emerging Organization Award honors up-and-coming nonprofit organizations that exhibit current and future leadership in the sector. This award has been bestowed on smaller, newer nonprofit organizations since 2010.

Both awards focus on management practices rather than programming. Recognizing that no organization is perfect, these awards focus on the steps taken on the journey toward excellence. During the evaluation process, the awards committees look to see how well the organization embodies the Hallmarks through management practices.

This year’s Alford-Axelson and Excellent Emerging Organization award winners will be announced at the Axelson Center conference, Embracing Inclusive Leadership: Uncommon Conversations About Diversity on October 19th. For more information about the Axelson awards program, visit our website.

 
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