Where do we go from here? Answering this question is an essential task for Aspire, as it is for anyone weaving a path through the complex world of human services. When CEO Lou Giramma added strategy to Erica Hare’s portfolio and appointed her Chief Financial and Strategy Officer in January 2023, this question became a primary driver of her work.

“This industry is changing. To navigate the changes that are headed our way, we need to be proactive,” says Erica.

Before we can decide where to go, the first step Erica took this spring was getting a clear picture of where we are now. She performed a SWOT analysis to understand the agency’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that included meeting with employees from across Aspire’s four service areas to “have deep conversations about what’s working and what’s not working.”

Erica is still analyzing the findings, but the three primary themes that emerged everywhere she went were:

People. Aspire’s biggest strength continues to be the people who work here. There is no doubt that the passion, purpose, and expertise that each person brings to the mission are the basis for our success and will continue to be. At the same time, the workforce is strained. The DSP shortage has an impact on every aspect of our work and makes it more complex to have the ability to serve additional people or create new innovative services.

Change. Aspire has experienced deliberate and rapid change in agency culture, leadership, and program structures during the past several years. Employees are enthusiastic about the purpose and benefits of these changes, but are also still coping with how the pandemic has changed us, individually and as communities.

“People would like to see the pace of change slow while Aspire tackles the workforce shortage and sets priorities for the future,” Erica observes. “We want to be responsive to this feeling of ‘let’s slow down and catch our breath’ and hold that in balance with the need to keep evolving in order to ensure we’ll be here to serve. I think it will be a fine balance.”

Funding. Throughout the organization, employees recognize that the reimbursement rates that Aspire receives to provide services do not allow for competitive, living wages for DSPs. Advocacy for better rates is seen as key to Aspire’s future. “We need to be at the table and have a voice in the legislative process fighting for better rates.”

Once the analysis is finished, work will begin to create a three-year plan for Aspire’s future growth and development to present to the Board of Directors in the fall. The plan will enable Aspire to focus on allocating resources to the opportunities that best reflect Aspire’s mission, vision, and values.

News ,

Where Do We Go From Here?