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Julie Bluhm, CEO

Julie Bluhm: Mapping the Future

Apr 5, 2021

*Written by Julie Bluhm. Julie, a social worker by training, is passionate about driving systemic change and creating solutions that really work. Julie joined Guild as the CEO in 2017.

When our team began a year-long strategic planning process in December of 2019, we had no idea what 2020 had in store for us.

One year ago, I wrote this on my personal Facebook page:

I don’t even remember what I was thinking the future would hold – while securing hand sanitizer and paper products were top of mind – I certainly did not expect an entire year working from my apartment, grieving the loss of over 500,000 people in this country – countless more throughout the world – and so many transformational moments.

I am proud to say that, despite the unknowns, we accomplished a lot, and started the internal roll-out of our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan. Embarking on the process, we knew we wanted everyone to participate – clients, stakeholders, staff, our leadership team, and our board of directors – and, despite the lack of sessions with actual post-it notes on actual walls (I’m so grateful we had the large team session with post-its in 2019!), we accomplished our goal. Here’s what we learned:

        Our clients continue to respond that they are very satisfied with our services, and especially appreciate opportunities for social connection, and our housing and employment services.

        Stakeholders agree that the hands-on, practical services we provide in the community are critical. They want us to continue the portfolio of services that meet client’s needs for the long-term and would like to see an expansion of our housing and homelessness work.

        Staff are eager to see Guild focus on equity and inclusion. We have grown and changed throughout the years and are ready to begin a journey of looking closely at our culture – including the implicit norms and rules that aren’t visible to new staff. ur goal is that all Guild staff are free to bring their authentic selves to work and for all of us to be able to complete the best work for our clients.

        The leadership team is looking forward to continuing to build our infrastructure. We have been busy with a lot of big projects and 2020 included unending crisis management. We’re proud of the work and look forward to being able to take a pause, look around and work to optimize processes, policies, and systems.  

        Our board is very excited about Guild’s work, financial stability, and the potential for future growth. They have been working hard on optimizing our governance and we’re all eager to be able to re-join in-person to continue to serve the organization.

The Process:

The work started with a human-centered design workshop led by Imagine/Deliver, a local strategy group focused on integrating equity into strategy. Over 130 staff participated and the results were compiled into a comprehensive report that the team used throughout the planning process. From there, an incredible team of volunteers who work in the strategy department at Target led us through a year-long planning process throughout 2020. The group brought creativity and an amazing ability to read between the lines and dive right into the core of our intentions and goals.

The Result:

We have a three-year strategy (see below!)! The plan includes a “north star” goal, to keep us thinking about the big picture as we continue to develop our on-the-ground and day-to-day strategy, and a three-year goal that we will use to drive our annual work plans. We divided up the “how we will accomplish our goal” into four separate pillars: Intentional Growth, Advocacy, Equity and Inclusion, and Infrastructure.

View our 2021-2024 Strategic Plan HERE.

We are so excited for you to see our plan and we invite you to dream with us as we envision our future potential.