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St. Barnabas Senior Services

Developing Development Program and Customized Leadership Coaching

The Project

In June 2016, the board and staff at St. Barnabas Senior Services (SBSS) were enthusiastic to get started on their new strategic plan. As the oldest senior service agency in Los Angeles, SBSS is a dynamic leader in caring for older adults that live at or below the federal poverty level. They provide individualized services including transportation, nutrition, case management and more, while also providing daily programs at facilities throughout the greater Los Angeles area. With California’s older adult population estimated to increase by 60% in the next 15 years, the SBSS team was determined to stay ahead of the game and deepen the organization’s impact by expanding its programming to serve 20,000 older adults per year by 2020. Rigo Saborio, President and CEO of SBSS, envisioned the organization as the “premier service organization for older adults” and an “employer of choice” in the community. ESC became a partner in Rigo’s vision, helping launch a series of programs that have transformed SBSS from the inside out.

Rigo and his board and staff enrolled in ESC’s 2016-2017 Developing Development Program (DDP) in September 2016. Director of Development Marissa Marasigan saw DDP as the ideal opportunity to take a deep look at their fund development practices. ESC consultant Michael Hirschfeld encouraged Rigo and Marissa to “look for early wins” to build up their fund development plan. Marissa says, “DDP pushed us to think about the legacy of our mission. Our client population was growing in numbers, and we wanted the resources to ensure all of them would age well with dignity.”

A strong development plan was only one piece of the legacy strategy though – to ensure SBSS’s impact for years to come, they would need to revolutionize the way they carried themselves as a team. Rigo saw among his employees “folks who have tremendous potential for leadership in this organization.” He realized that “helping them to move in that direction would not only support their work at SBSS but also wherever they go in their life and career.” So in fall 2017, Rigo worked with ESC’s Vice President of Organizational Consulting Vicky Foxworth to design a large-scale coaching engagement to support SBSS’s site directors and other emerging leaders at all levels in the organization. This coaching program was tailored carefully to support diverse leadership styles and strengths, no matter the level of experience, and participation was competitive. Half of the 30 full-time staff applied – nine were ultimately chosen for the program and were assigned ESC consultants who provided individualized coaching sessions and group trainings. The participants explored the unique challenges they faced in areas ranging from public speaking to change management to executive decision-making.

The Result

After eight months of coaching, the results have been outstanding. The participants feel more self-confident in their leadership roles at SBSS, and they credit working with their ESC consultants as integral to that transformation. At the leadership level, Rigo and Marissa have observed how the benefits of this coaching program have impacted the entire organization. Rigo says, “Ultimately, we are a team that cares, and that’s really what makes what we do a true success.” Marissa expresses her gratitude, “Our clients are our family, and now with ESC’s guidance, from the administrative level to direct service staff, it’s very clear that we all care and rally for our older adults in a way that’s true to our mission.” SBSS re-contracted with ESC in summer 2018 to continue the coaching program and offer it to even more staff members. For Rigo, this partnership has been critical to SBSS’s growth as they look ahead to expanding their programs and increasing their policy and advocacy efforts to support older adults and the challenges they face every day. He shares, “ESC has become such an important part of the St. Barnabas family. Together we’ve put our organization on the path to success!”

To learn more about St. Barnabas Senior Services, click here.