Case Study:

Schuylkill River Heritage Area

THE CLIENT

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area (SRHA) celebrates the Schuylkill River watershed as one of America’s most significant cultural, historical and industrial regions. The Schuylkill River watershed was designated a Pennsylvania Heritage Area by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 1995. It is home to more than 3.2 million people across five counties; approximately 1.5 million people draw their drinking water directly from the River.

SRHA hired Schultz & Williams (S&W) to facilitate a strategic planning process that would help the organization achieve its mission: connecting residents, visitors and communities to the Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail by serving as a catalyst for civic engagement and economic development in order to foster stewardship of the watershed and its heritage.

S&W began the comprehensive, inclusive planning process by becoming familiar with (or “getting to know”) SRHA’s staff and Board and by interviewing numerous external stakeholders and partners. This input was extremely helpful in focusing and prioritizing the strategic opportunities and challenges facing SRHA.

Once SRHA’s leadership had identified a clear and compelling vision for the future as well as the organization’s key strategic goals, it tested the draft framework of the strategic plan in several public meetings across the five counties touched by SRHA. The resoundingly positive feedback encouraged SHRA to keep moving forward ……as they fleshed out action plans to implement their goals. The staff then assessed and articulated how each goal would be reached, and they formulated detailed objectives and action steps with timelines for implementation.

The final outcome of the strategic planning process was a visionary “roadmap” for SRHA as it works towards ensuring the five-county Heritage Area is a thriving and economically vibrant region whose residents, visitors and communities understand, value and are fully committed to the stewardship of the Schuylkill River watershed and its heritage

Highlights

Developing a Plan of Historic Importance

Schultz & Williams facilitated a strategic planning process for Schuylkill River Heritage Area, creating a visionary “roadmap,” helping the organization achieve its mission and foster stewardship of the watershed and its heritage.

Facing an Unexpected Turn of Events

At the completion of the strategic plan, SRHA’s executive director left for a new opportunity, and the organization needed to search for its new leader. The staff called on Schultz & Williams to facilitate the executive search.

Understanding the Value of Planning

The strategic plan provided SRHA with a strong advantage going into the executive search. They were able to attract a high caliber of candidates and to zero in on exactly what key attributes they needed in order to achieve the plan’s goals and objectives.

The Challenge

Just as SRHA completed the strategic planning process, its executive director left for a new opportunity, and the organization needed to search for its new leader. Because the Board and staff had spent the previous ten months thinking strategically about the mission, vision, core values and future overall direction of SRHA, the Board was ready to move ahead with confidence on an executive search. They were easily able to articulate want they required in their next leader. The Board reached out to Schultz & Williams to facilitate the executive search.

Throughout the search process, both the search committee and the candidates for the position recognized the value of having a new strategic plan to ensure that SRHA would attract a highly qualified executive director and would select the best person to lead the organization.

The Solution

As facilitators of the executive search process, our work benefited from SRHA’s foresight in preparing a dynamic strategic plan that reflected their mission, vision and values. The plan established where SRHA was and pinpointed its priorities for the future. The mission was clear and the organization’s commitment to it had been nurtured and enlivened through the planning process. The Schuylkill River Heritage Society was in a prime position to navigate a leadership transition with comfort, clarity and confidence.

“Our strategic plan provided us with a strong advantage going into an executive search. We were able to attract a high caliber of candidates who all spoke highly of the benefits of knowing our goals at the time of applying for the position, and the Search Committee was able to zero in on exactly the key attributes we will need in a successful candidate in order to achieve our plan over the foreseeable future.”
SRHA Board Chair Wendi Wheeler

 

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