InsideNGO’s 2017 Excellence Award winners: Bill Lester of NPOKI, Nana Frimpong of Social Impact, Sue Lauscher of The Nature Conservancy, the BvA Team at IRC, Meredith Cann of FHI 360, Emily McLaughlin of Nuru International, and Kirsten Jacobson of Heartland Alliance International.
The InsideNGO Operational Excellence Awards recognize the important role that operations play in the work of NGOs and celebrates the innovation, collaboration, and accomplishments of InsideNGO’s members.
2017's winners in their categories are:
- Cross Operations - Nana Frimpong
- Emerging Leader - Meredith Cann
- Finance, Grants & Contracts - IRC's Budget vs. Actual (BvA) Team
- Human Resources - Emily McLaughlin
- Human Resources - Kirsten Jacobson
- Information Technology - William "Bill" Lester
- Legal - Susan "Sue" Lauscher
We also had a number of other outstanding nominees. See the Honorable Mentions below.
Nana Frimpong, Social Impact
Nana Frimpong, Director of Business Operations and Security Services for Social Impact, Inc., was instrumental in strengthening Social Impact’s core operations during the organization’s recent period of rapid growth. He worked tirelessly across functional areas to build new approaches and systems to ensure staff security, improve knowledge management, and implement structures for field office management. He leveraged technology and training to share best practices and support project implementation. Nana introduced a collaborative process to drive organization-wide results. Thanks to Nana’s leadership, Social Impact is more efficient with its current resources and more prepared for a long and successful future.
Meredith Cann, FHI 360
Meredith Cann, Program Officer at FHI 360, earned this year’s Emerging Leader Operational Excellence Award by demonstrating leadership within her core areas and beyond. As a true leader, Meredith’s work often elevates the work of others—she co-created a program that provides opportunities for junior staff to build skills to promote professional development and collaboration, and she has supported the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and training to help technical staff understand administrative and financial processes. More broadly, Meredith has contributed to strategic planning and a SharePoint rollout that facilitates document sharing and version control. Meredith’s efforts have gained regular recognition from FHI 360 management as the types of contributions that help the organization be more efficient and more compliant while increasing morale and helping the organization develop organizational strategy that can be operationalized.
Finance, Grants & Contacts
The BvA Team, IRC
Improved reporting to donors and more real time information for decision making, this is what the Budget vs. Actual system has ensured at the IRC both at an organizaitonal but also on an individual level. Prior to the Budget vs. Actual system, a Budget vs. Actual (Bva) report required a lot of manual intervention. All procurements were managed on excel spreadsheets, and to obtain a ‘snapshot’ and understand an overall country procurement situation required the manual intervention of consolidating all differnet field spreadsheets. Information was delayed resulting in poor information for decision making and there was always the potential for human error. The BvA system is a web based application built by the IRC that is now available to all country offices. The initial product was built in three months and has been further refined and adapted to the needs of all 30 IRC countries around the world. It can be implemented in several different settings with varying internet connectivity speeds and consistency. The system has helped IRC field teams better understand their grant budgets versus actuals in a more timely manner and it has resulted in a better way of managing supply chain procurement. The grants teams is able to better manage their donor funding, has ensured greater compliance with donor restrictions, reduced work load of staff and ensured access to an electronic dashboard of all procurement in a country. Overall it also has helped the IRC identify inconsistencies and poor business practices across their programs, improved their finance and supply chain procedures and ensured they are prepared for an entirely new ERP system.
Emily McLaughlin, Nuru International
When Emily returned to Nuru, after a two year absence, she was faced with the challenge of rebuilding the HR function and culture throughout the global organization. No small task. Emily started the transformation process by making sure the basics were done right and on time. This included payroll, benefits, visa support, and providing relevant HR information to the executive team. Next, after spending evenings and weekends reading and researching best practices, Emily focused on making Nuru a great place to work. She focused on improving processes around the employee lifecycle, creating culture teams, establishing a formal professional development system, and raising Nuru’s profile as an employer via her recruiting efforts and external speaking engagements. Thanks to Emily’s efforts, Nuru’s staff satisfaction has greatly increased, retention has improved significantly, and overall performance across the organization is up. Emily keenly understands the importance of HR as an enabling and supportive role rather than simply administrative. She provides tremendous support to the staff and has earned their trust and confidence. Emily’s efforts have allowed Nuru to create a far better and stronger team.
Kirsten Jacobson, Heartland Alliance International
Staff at Heartland Alliance International (HAI), refer to time as HAI “before Kirsten” and HAI “after Kirsten.” In November 2015, Kirsten became the first full-time dedicated HR partner. What was chaos has now been revolutionized thanks to the essential core infrastructure Kirsten has helped to build. In her year and half in this role, Kirsten has revised and implemented a new performance management process directly tied to HAI’s strategic plan, reviewed and revised country employee handbooks, implemented new salary scales in a number of countries, and overseen implementation of abuse reporting mechanisms. Senior leaders have improved their own human resources management skills through guidance and coaching from Kirsten, making for more efficient management of staff across each division of the organization. HAI’s 2015-2020 strategic plan goal to be the “best place to work in human rights” is ambitious and there will always be areas for improvement, but Kirsten’s leadership has made this goal achievable. HAI is a better place, and our participants are better served, because of Kirsten’s work and unwavering dedication.
Bill Lester, NPOKI
Bill Lester has been at the forefront of finding information solutions throughout his career. The need to standardize the reporting of information and avoid replication/duplication led to the creation of the NonProfit Organizations Knowledge Initiate (NPOKI). Developing workable solutions for the field and headquarters, creating standard indicators and developing shared dictionaries of health programming have been just some of the results. But Bill’s focus on using affordable, appropriate technology to make our world a better place to live in, has provided a body of work that extends beyond NPOKI and has benefitted the entire INGO sector. Recently, he led expanding the utility and reach of DHIS2 as an open-source data collection tool in the US; offered methodologies for making large, expensive enterprise resource planning systems successful at cash-strapped NGOs, and provided non- profits with previews of innovative technology solutions in the “connecting the information dots” webinar series. Always mindful of working in low bandwidth areas and with a focus always on the end-user, Bill co-designed an iRider Training system to train and develop competencies of trainers. Driven by a passion to avoid reinventing the wheel, Bill has created an information mapping process for multi-office NGOs. A smart, practical visionary, Bill has demonstrated time and again throughout his work that information can be used in countless ways to support mission, and in so doing improve the lives of people all over the world.
Sue Lauscher, The Nature Conservancy
Twenty-four years ago, Sue Lauscher joined TNC to help establish a highly professional grants program and has been contributing to the organization ever since. Sue helped build the infrastructure of TNC’s grants program – the Grants Services Network; she was instrumental in expanding the legal compliance team where she currently advises on U.S. federal funds as well as the World Bank, various European and Latin American governments, and other institutions; she has developed training materials for staff on grants management, procurement, and contract negotiation. Sue has served as an original writer and editor of many of TNC’s key legal and operational documents. In the midst of all this, Sue has been the champion attorney for the TNC science team as she stewarded many authored books and articles from the renowned experts on the Conservancy’s conservation science team. Sue has contributed greatly to TNC’s stewardship of hundreds of millions of public dollars to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends around the globe. Sue retires from TNC in August and will be greatly missed by the organization and her colleagues.
- Margarita Doneva, Water for People
- Matt Clark, PYXERA Global
Finance, Grants & Contracts
- John McWeeney, Project Concern International
- Alex Kerwin, Population Services International
- The Legal and Donor Compliance Team, Marie Stopes International