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NPN/VAN Launches New Strategic Planning Process

Posted: Monday, October 16th, 2017 at 4:11 pm in News

Strategic Planning

At a recent Board of Directors meeting in Pittsburgh, NPN/VAN launched a new strategic planning process, led by the consulting team of Justin Laing and Ian David Moss. Laing and Moss were selected from a competitive pool of consultants who responded to our strategic plan RFP and together they bring a diverse set of experiences and skills. Their strategic planning philosophy rests on three pillars: the invitation to explore, reflect, try, fail, and succeed offered by iterative planning; the rigorous understanding of causes and effects generated through a theory of change; and the integration of these ideas with a racial and cultural equity lens.

NPN/VAN is in a time of change, and through this planning process we are reimagining the organization – its mission, vision, and core values – and embracing the opportunity for transformation. The planning process also includes two parallel projects, to ensure a holistic engagement with the history, operations, and systems that make up NPN/VAN: the Knowledge Building Initiative, led by Paul Bonin Rodriguez; and a year-long consultancy on financial sustainability with the Nonprofit Finance Fund. We are grateful for generous support from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for our strategic planning process and consultancy with Laing and Moss; to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for our work with Nonprofit Finance Fund; and to the National Endowment for the Arts for the Knowledge Building Initiative.

“The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is a long-time supporter of NPN/VAN’s vital work, and we are pleased to partner with them as they write their next chapter,” says Maurine Knighton, Program Director for the Arts at The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “NPN/VAN has crafted a thoughtful, holistic, and coordinated approach to strategic planning that is centered on serving artists. We look forward to learning from the course set by their new vision and seeing the positive influence it will have on the artistic community for generations to come.”

The year-long planning process will include engagement with our Partners, artists, colleagues, and funders, through surveys and research as well as face-to-face convenings at our annual conference in December in San Francisco. NPN/VAN’s strategic planning committee is chaired by Shannon Daut, Director of City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs, who recently completed a six-year term on the NPN/VAN Board of Directors. Committee members include Board and staff of NPN/VAN, artists, Partners, and colleagues.

We are excited to dive into this work over the next year and to emerge with a new roadmap that ensures we are focused and responsive in our work and reflects an unwavering commitment to building new systems rooted in justice. We look forward to seeking your input and sharing our new theory of change with you!


About Justin Laing: Justin Laing has lived in Pittsburgh for 25 years and has spent more than 20 years in the non-profit sector. Most recently, Laing worked for The Heinz Endowments as Senior Program Officer for Arts & Culture, planning projects in arts and culture as well as community development. In 2017 he founded Hillombo LLC to focus on his consulting work. Hillombo’s aim is to lift Black perspectives and negotiate and build alternatives to systemic racism and capitalism. Laing’s consulting work focuses on collaborative planning processes that themselves increase racial equity by centering race in the planning questions and being certain that ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American) voices are visible, noted, and included in the plan’s eventual strategies. He served on the board of Grantmakers in the Arts and was the chair of its Thought Leader Forum on Racial Equity; additionally, he is a Commissioner on the City of Pittsburgh’s Equal Opportunity Review Commission, on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and a member of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. Laing has a B.A. in Black Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, a Masters in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and studied Capoeira Angola for 12 years with Mestre Nego Gato.

About Ian David Moss: Ian David Moss specializes in the alignment of evidence and strategy within large institutions and across complex ecosystems. Over the past decade, strategic frameworks that Moss helped create have guided the distribution of nearly $100 million in grants, and he is frequently called upon to advise funders and service organizations. As one of the arts sector’s leading practitioners of theory of change, he recently worked with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation on the foundation’s Building Demand for the Arts program, and he co-created the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s first-ever theory of change for the performing arts. For more than seven years, Moss was part of the leadership team at Fractured Atlas, and in 2007 he founded Createquity, an internationally acclaimed think tank and online publication investigating the most important issues in the arts and what we can do about them. He holds BA and MBA degrees from Yale University and is based in Washington, DC.


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