Over 300 Project Managers (PMs) and representatives from nearly 100 local nonprofit organizations (NPOs) filled the ballroom of the Sheraton Tysons Hotel in Virginia. Peering down from the balcony above, one saw a sea of heads leaning into computer screens and groups of listeners gathered around flipcharts as Project Managers outlined strategies for stakeholder management, organizational redesign, communications plans, and other mechanisms/systems/tools that can vastly improve the performance of an organization.
The date was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2015. The occasion was the first ever Project Management Day of Service (PM-DoS), brainchild of M Powered Strategies® (MPS) president, Kendall Lott. To make it happen, all five DC Metro Area Project Management Institute chapters came together, under the direction of Laura Barnard, to form a special Program Management Office (PMO). Partnering with the Taproot Foundation, they assembled a cadre of PM Subject Matter Experts to meet with charity and nonprofit organizations in this massive day-long “Scope-A-Thon.”
Secretary Penny Pritzker of the Department of Commerce gave the opening remarks. Speaking to Martin Luther King’s role as a preacher, she highlighted his message of community service. The event elicited strong emotional response from the nonprofit sector, who came away thrilled with the actionable direction they were given, and from the Project Managers, who saw in a new light the importance and the impact their work can have. There were tears, laughter, and “Aha!” moments.
For Kendall, as a member of the regional leadership of the PMI chapters, it was a significant moment. “The work PMs do, planning into the constrained resources of time, money, staff, and capacity, is so important and valuable to NPOs…and a real chance for PMs to see the impact and value of their work. Today, we mattered, and we felt it.”
Jimmy Church, PMP, of M Powered Strategies®, worked with two non-profits: the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center, a Virginia-based preschool that provides comprehensive learning services to children of working families, and Hatch International, of Washington, DC, that helps innovators in developing countries get the support they need to develop and introduce their products to the marketplace. Both organizations requested assistance with the development of a roadmap and a communications strategy to expand and improve their outreach to donors, investors, and other funding sources. “It was amazing how much we were able to accomplish in just a few hours,” Jimmy remarked. “Non-profit leaders are so strapped for time and resources that having an expert listen, ask probing questions, and then help them organize their thoughts and prioritize their next steps proved to be invaluable.”
MPS staffer, Perry Morton, PMP, worked w/ Baltimore Corps, which develops and supports community leaders from various fields. Perry was able to help their recruiting lead by pinpointing her marketing challenges, offering potential solutions, and setting specific milestones so she could achieve those solutions.
Carl Crampton, PMP, of M Powered Strategies, summed up the experience eloquently. “It was a great way for us PMs to show up and make a difference. The variety of non-profits was staggering, as was the need. It was transformational.”
Planning has already begun for next year’s Day of Service. Taproot, Kendall and the PMO all hope to double the attendance and double the impact next time around.