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CEO’s New Year’s Resolutions

CEO’s New Year’s Resolutions

Posted January 30, 2014

My name is Emily Cote (Yup, that’s me in that photo, having just polished off a big ol’ plate of food at our ‘A Time for Tasting’ fundraiser), and I am CEO’s Marketing and Communications Officer. I have been a part of the CEO team for a little less than a year and a half now. Despite my short tenure, I have been witness to many remarkable changes within the organization – changes that I believe our supporters, customers, and community partners should hear about. That is why we are going to give blogging a shot – to share more of the “behind the scenes” fun happening at the agency.

Under the leadership of Katherine Maciol, we have thoroughly evaluated the agency from many angles: our daily operations, our leadership methods, our internal and external communications, and our funding structure. In doing so, we have taken stock of what our greatest strengths are, the role we play in the community, and all that we have accomplished during our long history. And, of course, we also ended up with a list of the things we would like to accomplish in the future.

Some of these goals will take longer than a year to achieve. However, in the spirit of the New Year, I thought it would be fun to share some of them with all of you… let’s call them CEO’s New Year’s Resolutions! We want everyone to see our hopes and dreams, and we hope you will all keep us accountable. In fact, if there is a goal here that you believe you can help us accomplish – please feel free to reach out and get involved. We’d hate to go it alone.

Resolution # 1: Use the 2013 Community Needs Assessment to Improve CEO’s Service Offerings

Every three years, our agency uses surveys and local data to assess the needs of Rensselaer County. We look for trends to help us determine what people are struggling with most – and we work to refine the agency’s programs and services to effectively meet those needs.

During the last assessment, the data indicated that obesity was a growing health concern for the county, especially among our customer population. Often, health habits are fostered in the early childhood years. We had already recognized that we could make a healthy impact through our Head Start program, and we had partnered with the Communities for Healthy Living Project, an initiative offered through SUNY’s School of Public Health. By implementing a more activity-focused curriculum and improving our nutrition education for both children and parents, we were able to make a positive, measureable impact, lowering the average body weights of our Head Start participants and supporting healthy habits that will follow the children into adulthood.

As we sort through the data on this year’s assessment, we hope to make more impactful improvements to our programs and services.

Resolution # 2: Increase Public Awareness of CEO and Its Mission

This one is near and dear to my heart. When I first joined CEO, I was stunned by the number of people I met in the community who had never heard of us. After all, CEO has been around for almost 50 years, and it serves over 14,000 individuals and families in need each year! We are also one of the largest employers in the area.

This lack of public knowledge hurts us on a number of levels: It impacts how many people we are able to reach with our services, makes it harder for us to recruit talented new employees and volunteers, and it negatively impacts our fundraising efforts.

To tackle this issue, we submitted a proposal for the Consulting Alliance Roadmap to Results Challenge. We proposed that a team of local consultants could help us assess our brand, refresh our image, and reach more people. Our proposal was strong, and we were generously awarded $24,000 in free consulting services.

We have already begun working with these talented consultants, taking a closer look at everything from our logo to our messaging. Our goal is that, over the next year, we will update all of our marketing and communications to reach more people, more effectively. The look and feel of our materials will also change, to better reflect our vision for the future. Which, of course, brings us to resolution number three.

Resolution #3: Embrace a New Vision for the Future

CEO is a Community Action Agency. Our roots are born out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which was a government initiative to eradicate poverty in our nation. This initiative is often referred to as Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

While many of our programs and services certainly focus on improving the economic wellbeing of our customers, they go so much beyond that. Economic status is just one of many facets which contribute to the overall prosperity of an individual, their family, and their community overall. Our services also support the physical and emotional wellbeing of our customers, their education, their personal values, their self-esteem, and their community involvement.

Our staff have done a lot of work around our core values as an agency, and we all recognize the importance of embracing the whole person and their strengths – not just focusing on their struggles. Therefore, when we look ahead to the way we operate our programs and services, we are envisioning not just a community without poverty – we are envisioning a community filled with happy, healthy, and prosperous people. And our goal is to communicate these values, showing how important our agency is to the overall health of our community.

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So, what do you think about our resolutions? Do you have something you’d like to accomplish in 2014? Maybe we can accomplish them together!

Emily Cote is the Marketing and Communications Officer for CEO. She can be reached via email at ecote@ceo-cap.org.

If you are interested in helping us achieve our mission, we’d love to have you join our family, as an employee, a donor, or volunteer. For more information, please visit our website at www.ceo-cap.org

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