Previous PULSE volunteers were right. The first 6 weeks of your 6 month PULSE assignment fly by! So far, my experience with the Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF) has been refreshing and challenging. As someone who loves to study and enhance the health of organizations, being submerged into a completely different environment like this has been simply fascinating.
That said – in this, my 2nd blog post, I detail what I’m specifically doing for PEF while here – – as well share a story that will hopefully help put a skip in YOUR step today.
In June, I arrived at PEF with the primary assignment of helping the Philadelphia Math and Science Coalition (MSC; one of the many programs within PEF) design a new business model. To do this, my initial work has included studying non-profit business models and seeking to understand the current mode of MSC’s operations, as well as its future strategic intent. Fortunately, with PEF being one of GSK’s PULSE “pillar” partners (which means PEF has 3-5 years of continuous PULSE skill-based volunteer support), I have some helpful documents from previous PULSE volunteers – reflecting the Coalition’s partners’ needs, for reference. Also to help in the diagnosis, I meet with my manager, the MSC Coordinator (Don McKinney), daily, and connect regularly with other key players in PEF, including the CEO, leaders of Funding, Finance, and overall PEF Programming. This ensures I understand their current expectations and perspectives around the present and future desired state of the MSC.
As well, with the reasonably new CEO and a new SVP of Programming on board, PEF recently began their 6 month strategic planning process. As an HR Business Lead for GSK US Vaccines the past several years, I have solid exposure and experience in designing strong strategic plans – and helping leaders identify and develop the organizational capabilities needed to pull through those plans. Therefore, I’m happy to report that I’ve also been asked to support PEF in this process while here, as well. This work will help PEF make choices to ensure they are an impactful, sustainable organization for the next several years. How cool is it that this just happens to be going on while I am here?!
Third, one key role the MSC is currently playing is partnering with Drexel University in facilitating the design of Philadelphia School District’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Plan. This is a big deal because this plan shapes the entire District’s (K- 12) curriculum design, teacher professional development on STEM, and community involvement – all of which are required to improve student motivation and achievement in STEM (to learn about Pennsylvania’s current – and pretty low – performance in STEM subjects and the implications of this, click HERE). Since joining PEF, I’ve been invited to contribute to this critical work, too.
Finally – one quick story to make you smile…. last week, I received an unexpected compliment from the District’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, who we are partnering closely with on the District STEM Plan design work. We were wrapping up a meeting where I had recommended a few things for the core team to consider… the Asst Superintendent paused and asked me… “Who sent you here? No, really… who sent you? You’ve made me think very differently about how I’d like to approach these next steps – – and not many people are able to change my thinking these days. So… who sent you?”
Of course, this feedback just 6 weeks into my assignment had me beaming with pride, for both GSK and myself. When you’re still relatively new as a PULSE volunteer, you wonder if you are making or will be able to make a difference for the organization you’ve been assigned to. Although I still have a long way to go to make the difference I’d like to make for Philly kids, that one question was enough to feed my drive and spirit for weeks.
Many of you reading this may not currently be on or ever have the opportunity to be ‘sent’ on a PULSE assignment. My sense is – you undoubtedly also have a gift that others would benefit from. The truth is, we don’t need to wait to be ‘sent’ by someone to make a difference in our corners of the world. Opportunity is always there for us to step up and be of service. Look for these possible moments… bring YOUR magic… and make the difference happen.
THANK YOU for continuing to follow my blog. Your comments from the 1st one were so appreciated – they made me feel connected to you and supported. I’d love to hear from you again!