Pandemic Crisis Response Evolves into Crafting a Future Leadership Vision for Reality Changers

Updated: Sep 29


In the Spring of 2020, many nonprofits were adjusting to the news of extended ‘Safer at Home’ orders. Reality Changers among them. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the organization gathered middle and high school students in various locations for tutoring and mentorship in its college readiness program. Reality Changers needed to pivot, and quickly. A former Investee, the organization applied for a Crisis Response Spark Team with SVP.


Reality Changers paused their strategic planning process and were trying to grapple what COVID-19 would mean for the next 3-5 years of the organization’s operations. Organization leadership was working to transition staff and students to remote operations while also navigating an uncertain fundraising climate.


An SVP Team was assembled to assist Vice President Theresa Cunningham plan for the brave new world that lay ahead. Lead Partner Philip Lurie, a retired Controller with experience building and growing successful companies, along with Partners and Kristen Ford worked with Reality Changers to help them implement their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan and ensured compliance in order for the organization to cover core services and continue to serve its population, if not in-person, then virtually. Additionally, Reality Changers was in a moment of transition regarding its location. SVP Partners assisted them in analyzing lease options prior to making the move to ensure a smart decision for the future of the organization.


At the end of their Crisis Response Spark Team, Reality Changers saw such value in the engagement, they returned to SVP asking to extend the collaboration. This time, President and CEO Tamara Craver sought to enlist SVP Partners to help her bring the organization’s vision for board leadership to life. Partner Joyce Ross, founder of an international management and leadership consulting firm who now dedicates much of her time to pro-bono consulting for board development was the perfect person for the job. Partner Holley Martens, an experienced philanthropist with a background in social work and passion for youth-serving organizations was also brought in to support the project. Joyce and Holley worked with Reality Changers’ leadership to develop a Board Governance Committee to help strengthen their board. Once in place, they met monthly with the committee to review and revise “Key Drivers of a Highly Effective Board”. By the end of six months, Reality Changers had assessed the size and composition of its board, analyzed member recruitment and retention strategies, and updated its bylaws. Upon closing the Spark Team, Craver shared, “SVP was an incredible partner to Reality Changers and helped us to strengthen our board governance. From leading thoughtful discussion and providing ample templates and resources, SVP guided us through a critical moment as we launched our 5-year strategic plan.”

What began as a crisis response turned into a collaboration to help build a future vision for Reality Changers. What did it take? The right people, in the right place, at the right time. The organization came with an openness to learn and work along

side a team. SVP Partners lent their unique perspectives and experience to not only respond to the urgent needs at hand but to craft a vision that will carry Reality Changers forward in the years to come.


Are you looking to join a community of like-minded individuals creating real impact for nonprofits in San Diego region? Contact Sierra Visher Kroha to learn more about joining as an SVP Partner.




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