Sarah, Aidan, Jessica
Since June 2015, M Powered Strategies staffers Jessica Gilles, Aidan Wojtech and Sarah Nurse have been working on a pro bono project for the Military Initiatives Division at Points of Light, an NGO dedicated to volunteer service. Our MPS Reporter recently sat down with Aidan and Sarah to find out more about the project and how they are helping.
MPS REPORTER: Tell me a little bit about this project.
AIDAN: We’re working with the Military Initiatives Division at Points of Light to implement a strategic plan that will help align their work towards a model where veterans are engaged in volunteering to provide service in their communities.
MPS REPORTER: Can you describe the process?
SARAH: We started with stakeholder interviews so we could do an environmental scan of where the organization is now and what they hope to achieve in the future, as well as the issues and challenges they face. From there we go through a full strategic planning process to develop the tactical approach—the actual tasks and initiatives that they’ll focus on—and how they’ll resource them for the next year.
AIDAN: We basically synthesize the data they give us into a coherent action plan. By running through several workshops we are able to drill down in successive levels from what their mission and values are all the way down to the specific actionable items needed to implement this new strategy.
MPS REPORTER: Sarah, since you’re the senior consultant on this Pro Bono project, what is your role
SARAH: Actually I joined in the middle of the project, so Aidan and Jessica had already done all the prep work, the environmental scans, to understand the environment they’re facing, the major stakeholders in the organization, and their levels of resourcing. They had a structured project plan in place, showing all the phases, based on typical strategic planning methodology, to arrive at a tactical plan. I stepped in to attend the strategy sessions with the Points of Light contact, to help guide the conversation or help them understand the methodology that we’re using when appropriate, but really Jessica and Aidan are the ones driving the strategy, and documenting, and moving the operation forward to get us to the next meeting.
AIDAN: The goal is to get our POC at the Military Initiatives Division to a point where she can present her strategic vision—which will be in alignment with the overarching organization vision—to her managers and her peers, along with an action plan for the next year. That will happen at the end of August.
SARAH: What I like about this project is that it ties in with MPS’ considerable footprint in the VA space. It’s nice to do some pro bono work that directly impacts Veterans. It’s hard at OI&T (Office of Information and Technology) to have that mission focus.
AIDAN: Yeah, the mission focus is certainly nice. In the IT space, it can be very difficult sometimes to see the actual effect for the Veteran. Beyond that, I really enjoy the strategy work. This has been a great opportunity to engage with an MPS service line that’s largely new to me.
SARAH: The great thing about this particular mission of Points of Light is it’s not just about helping Veterans re-assimilate into their communities, but it’s about applying the skills they have, that they’ve learned through their time in service, to the community. So it’s about empowering the Veterans as well as educating the community about their skills.
AIDAN: Our consulting work at OI&T at the VA is a couple of layers removed from direct contact with Veterans. But through this we get to see more of that impact.
SARAH: MPS’ Pro Bono program is awesome in so many ways. Besides being able to help others in a meaningful way, it gives us the opportunity to have different types of consulting experiences outside the Federal Government. We’re always looking for additional nonprofits to provide services to, so if anyone out there is interested, please contact us!
For more information about M Powered Strategies’ Pro Bono program, visit