Los Angeles County has shown great political will for taking on social and economic challenges. Last year, for example, County residents voted to approve a sales tax increase to fund services addressing homelessness. And County leaders and agencies have prioritized work on pressing issues affecting its population of ten million residents, carrying out their commitment to improving the lives of the most underprivileged among them. The Community Development Commission and Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (Commission), with a staff of 555 and a budget of $515 million, is at the epicenter of many of those efforts. The Commission is an independent agency associated with the County that is comprised of two legal entities, the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles and the Community Development Commission. Together these agencies operate programs focused on subsidized housing, housing development and preservation, community development and economic development.
The LA County Board of Supervisors, as the County’s governing body, serves as the agencies’ Board of Commissioners and sets its policy. In recent years, the five-member Board has become increasingly progressive, stipulating swift and significant efforts to address a number of issues affecting vulnerable populations. The Commission has been asked to take action on new, though somewhat overlapping, priorities, including workforce and small business development and homelessness. Internal changes are also underway as the Commission’s new Executive Director begins to implement a significant reorganization designed to better serve the agencies’ clients. And even as it confronts greater demands on its resources, the Commission, which derives more than seventy percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has been facing funding cuts.
To fulfill the goals of the Board, implement effective solutions to LA County’s challenges, and maximize its resources, the Commission will launch new initiatives and establish a new division centered around strategic partnerships. To support this work, the Commission will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive fellow for one year who will solicit and synthesize input from a wide range of stakeholders, research best practices among public services, help launch new initiatives and develop a new Division of Strategic Partnerships that will be turn-key and sustainable. If successful, the fellow will play a vital part in the Commission’s efforts to more fully assist LA County residents and ameliorate poverty and homelessness.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the fellow and the host agency.
Starting in September 2018, it is proposed that the FUSE Fellow will begin by becoming familiar with the Commission’s goals, initiatives, and organizational structure, and establish strong relationships with executive leadership. The fellow will research best practices around similar public service initiatives as well as strategic partnerships. In concert with executive leadership, the fellow will leverage outstanding interpersonal skills in meeting with a broad number of stakeholders.
Deploying leadership skills as well as the ability to pivot to a background role as necessary, the fellow will work with Commission executives to align perspectives and establish well-defined goals. The fellow, relying on both a facility for details and an ability to keep the big picture in mind, will develop comprehensive initiatives addressing the Board’s priorities and assist in their implementation.
Concurrently, the fellow—using expertise in business development and a thorough understanding of organizational structure—will design a plan for establishing a new Commission division focused on strategic partnership that can help it more effectively and sustainably carry out its mission. Working with executive leadership, the fellow will then build the division, ensuring it is launch-ready within one year of beginning the fellowship. By overseeing the creation of this new division and execution of new initiatives, the fellow will help the Commission address the Board’s priorities and provide greater opportunities and benefits to disadvantaged LA County residents.
- Develop an understanding of best practices and the Commission – Meet with executive leadership and establish close working relationships. Become well-acquainted with the Commission’s culture, goals, financials, and current or potential partner agencies. Become familiar with ongoing Commission functions and projects, the reorganization in progress and internal attitudes toward change. Learn about the Board of Supervisors, its relationship with the Commission, and its new directives. Research best practices among public services related to the implementation of community initiatives and strategic partnerships.
- Explore and align stakeholder perspectives – Working with executive leadership and a change leader they identify who will act as the forward face of the effort, meet with stakeholders including Commission management and staff, Board executives, partner agencies, and client communities to gain their insights and viewpoints about the Commission’s objectives and approaches. (If necessary, launch community outreach to gain feedback.) Identify political considerations, divergent viewpoints, potential obstacles and key relationships. Work to align perspectives and address any conflicts.
- Construct a new division devoted to strategic partnership initiatives – Analyze the Commission’s needs and objectives for strategic partnerships. Explore and evaluate comprehensive approaches to structuring the division. Present a detailed proposal to management and incorporate changes. Work to ensure buy-in among stakeholders. Establish a timeline for building out the division. Determine overall objectives and methodology for goal-setting, exploring, and evaluating potential partners. Define process flow and metrics. Create organizational chart encompassing internal functions and reporting structures as well as the context within the Commission’s organizational structure. Draw up a budget and establish budgeting procedures. Determine staffing needs and layout hiring processes that comply with Commission guidelines. Establish criteria for selecting a Director of Strategic Partnerships and requirements of the role. Ensure the Division is poised to become fully functional by completion of the fellowship.
- Design and launch new initiatives – With the goal of addressing the Board’s priorities as efficiently and effectively as possible, investigate and evaluate approaches to structuring and managing new initiatives around workforce development, homelessness, and community development via women- or minority-owned small businesses. Determine resources. Examine existing functions and projects across Commission divisions and roles they might play in carrying out new initiatives. Present priority proposals to executive leadership for feedback and go-ahead. Build momentum among management and staff, employing change management approaches as required. Determine infrastructure, process flow and reporting relationships and help to oversee initiative launches.
- Monique King-Viehland, Executive Director, Community Development Commission and Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles
- Emilio Salas, Deputy Executive Director, Community Development Commission and Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles
- Kathy Thomas, Administrative Deputy, Community Development Commission and Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in business and organizational development. Experience with workforce development and/or women- or minority-owned small businesses beneficial.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments.
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.