Karen Zinn, Principal, KZB Advisors, speaks about her experience as a business volunteer with Philadelphia's Magic Gardens after being matched with the organization through Philadelphia Arts & Business Council's Business Volunteers for the Arts program. Here are a few excerpts from Karen's interview with Flying Kite Media.
Here you can read the interview in its entirety.
Flying Kite (FK): Tell us about the project you completed with Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Karen Zinn (KZ): I was matched with Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens by the Philadelphia Arts & Business Council's Business Volunteers for the Arts program to help PMG management and trustees develop a first-ever Strategic Plan. Over a 10 month period I led a strategic planning committee comprised of the executive director, key staff and a panel of trustees through a series of exercises that ultimately resulted in a livable and documented strategic plan. The exercises had them re-evaluate their mission and vision statements; examine the organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and finally to define the organization’s needs in relation to programs, funding, governance, facilities and administration. The end result is an implementable plan with milestones and timeframes which will guide the organization in meeting its future goals within a three-year timeframe, and address specific and immediate needs around PMG’s facilities, governance structure, and professionalism as an arts organization.
KZ: PMG is a truly special place and organization. You can’t visit this incredible art installation and galleries and not feel uplifted and connected with the art and the artist. Everyone involved with PMG is passionate about their work with the organization and truly lives and breaths the mission of inspiring creativity and community engagement. Through my work with them I have been inspired and wanted to continue to be involved and contribute in some way. While I enjoyed facilitating the planning process and tangible outcome of a strategic plan document; being part of the successful implementation is the greatest reward.
FK: How have your professional skills grown as a result of working with Magic Gardens?
KZ: My skills as a facilitator have improved, particularly when working with diverse teams – for example: I’m better able to observe when a quieter or less assertive voice is getting lost and to draw them into the discussion. Strategic Planning is an iterative process - I’m definitely more patient and creative in my thinking as a result.
KZ: The director of BVA, Eileen Cunniffe and her staff are amazing. The training really helped us understand the challenges of managing an arts organization, the mutually rewarding role of a BVA Consultant, and provided tips for a successful BVA engagement. Just one week after the training Eileen notified me she "had the perfect match." Because of my workload at the time, I initially declined, but Eileen kindly persisted and provided clear expectations for both PMG and me in the contract. My role was not to write the plan but to facilitate it. There were frequent “check-ins” during the engagement and I knew I could rely on Eileen and her staff for support if I needed them. This allowed me to relax and enjoy my role as a Volunteer …in fact, I viewed this as "me time."