By Maggie Harney
RE:Her, or Regarding Her Food, is a nonprofit based in Los Angeles striving to empower female restaurateurs by facilitating opportunities of connection, access, and professional growth. Its nine founding members started the organization in November 2020, given the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food and beverage restaurant industry.
As an organization that prioritizes community engagement and public service, MPS was excited to support RE:Her’s mission and staff. From May to July 2021, project engagement included initial exploratory work, stakeholder interviews and strategic planning sessions. In August 2021, the team developed a short survey and reported results. A final report was produced in early September 2021 and is an artifact that may be distributed to the rest of RE:Her leadership.
In this Q&A interview with MPS Human Capital and Operations Manager, Julianna Driskel, we highlight how MPS Assists collaborated with RE:Her to advance the nonprofit’s strategic planning goals.
Which nonprofit did you work with and why was it selected to benefit from MPS’ pro bono consulting?
I found RE:Her while based in L.A. and reading the websites of restaurants I enjoy. A nonprofit like this is welcome and long overdue in the restaurant community, and while it was started as a response to COVID-19, it fills a need that goes beyond pandemic response. MPS Assists, our pro bono program, is great because there are no parameters around what sort of nonprofits we help support. We are encouraged to reach out to groups that inspire us and offer our wide variety of services to increase operational effectiveness within our communities.
How did the team assess what services would be most beneficial to the nonprofit and define the scope of the project?
We began our relationship with RE:Her first performing exploratory calls determining the intersection between their program/operational needs and the knowledge areas where MPS can assist. In the end we determined the best use of our skills would be around strategic planning, as RE:Her was growing quickly and had many volunteers but wasn’t sure where to best focus their efforts and in what order.
What issues or obstacles do the staff face?
RE:Her is effective and ambitious; the problem for them isn’t how to achieve their goals, but rather in what order. Because they’re chefs and restauranteurs, they’re used to working in an industry that require[s] quick thinking, flexibility and constant challenge. These are also qualities needed by those who run nonprofits, and between their can-do attitude, inspiring mission and impressive network, they were able to go [from] zero to [a] hundred very quickly. Therefore, what MPS provided were the facilitation services to provide framework on how to decide next steps, moving forward with strategy in mind.
How many people total were involved in the implementation? Who from the MPS team supported this nonprofit and in what capacities?
[From the MPS team], Wes Cronkite ran our strategic planning sessions. Katerina Triantos supported stakeholder interviews. Brenda Reyes recorded meeting minutes, and Julianna Driskel facilitated program management and coordination.
Did anything surprise you or the team?
How enthusiastic and collaborative the RE:Her team was! They showed up on time, prepared and inspired. It’s uncommon to have a pro bono client push for results and to be so specific and communicative in their needs. They were fantastic to work with, and the overall success of their organization comes as no surprise given how easy and creative they were to work with.
If you are a nonprofit organization interested in becoming a pro bono client through our MPS Assists program, please apply here. For more information, please contact Julianna Driskel (firstname.lastname@example.org).