The long-standing relationship between Insignia Partners and the leadership team of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is based on trust.
“They are really thorough,” said Lisa Grover, the senior director of state advocacy and support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
“They follow up. They bring ideas. They are willing to expand project parameters. They focus on outcomes and know we prefer outcome-based projects.”
Insignia Partners brings a strong background in charter school work to the relationship with the National Alliance. Lisa Diaz worked for several years with the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, Michigan’s charter school association. Marisol previously worked for the National Alliance and the Walton Family Foundation.
Insignia Partners has worked with the National Alliance on two major projects:
1. The New Sector Development Community of Practice
The National Alliance is currently helping partners in Alabama and Mississippi launch their charter school movements after both states recently enacted charter school laws (Alabama in 2015 and Mississippi in 2013). As part of this effort, Insignia Partners is helping CSO leaders in these two states build a team of partners – including community leaders, educators, and business executives – to implement their laws in ways that will lead to great charter schools in these two states.
Emily Schultz is the director of state advocacy and policy for the National Alliance. Previously, she was the executive director of the Alabama Coalition for Public Charter Schools. She said the New Sector Development Community of Practice project developed by and with Insignia Partners has put Alabama and Mississippi charter leaders on a solid path.
“It is soup to nuts,” Schultz said. “They helped me assess what each team had to work with, helped me through conversations with the teams. They looked at the expertise around the table and helped them see what they were missing and create a differentiated strategic planning process.”
Schultz also said Insignia Partners assisted Alabama and Mississippi leaders in envisioning what success in five, 10 and 15 years would look like, then backward map from there to identify a detailed action plan. Marisol helps outline agendas for Community of Practice meetings, then facilitates the discussions. Lisa Diaz follows up with key leaders.
“This is where Marisol and Lisa’s preparation and facilitation come into play. They help everybody work together more efficiently. We don’t get stuck and dwell on a topic. They find ways to give leadership groups a lens to understand and identify solutions.”
2. Master Classes
Insignia Partners worked with National Alliance for Public Charter Schools leaders and state CSO leaders to plan and execute professional development trainings – or master classes. Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president for state advocacy and support, has been with the National Alliance since 2005.
“It’s high-quality training every time,” Ziebarth said. “They were key in putting the programs together. They do a great job running the meetings.”
Master classes were conducted three to four times a year and each all-day session is focused on a leadership skill. Topics have included communications, advocacy, and more.
“CSO leaders want applications and strategies, documents and ideas,” Grover said. “Not just talking; it has to be actionable, otherwise we would lose them. When we talk about building a membership base and identifying contacts, Lisa and Marisol are giving them tools to go back to their states and recruit members or deal with difficult members or problems.
“Not many strategic planners or facilitators have that understanding. I’ve worked with many, and Insignia Partners gets it done.”