Morning Session of the 2018-2019 Board of Directors Strategic Planning Work Session

On Sunday, July 22nd, the GHI Board of Directors gathered in the Administration Building boardroom for its annual strategic planning work session with the Audit Committee and General Manager Eldon Ralph. Guided by professional facilitator Becky Roberts, CPF, PMP and president of Catoctin Consulting, LLC, the Board, Audit Committee, and Mr. Ralph discussed, debated, and imagined GHI’s near and long-term future.

Board President Steve Skolnik opened the meeting by reading aloud GHI’s mission statement to set a tone for the day’s work. Facilitator Becky Roberts introduced the agenda and explained that the strategic planning process would flow from mission/vision of the future to goals/objectives for the next 2-5 years which would be detailed in annual action plans.

The morning portion of the meeting (11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) focused on one question: What do you see as the most important area to change at GHI over the next 2-3 years and how will that change help the cooperative? Each participant shared their thoughts then Ms. Roberts guided the effort to organize ideas into concrete and prioritized action statements with assigned responsibility.

To help the Board make its strategic plans operational, Mr. Skolnik will proceed to appoint the Long-Range Planning Committee as soon as possible.

Below are many of the ideas discussed in the morning session, organized by general theme with a note about when detailed planning might begin. For more information about the meeting, read Kris White’s coverage of the afternoon session.

Implement business processes that will … (undertake within 1 year)

  • Capture important institutional knowledge of long-serving Board members and management to ensure continuity in GHI’s operations during staff and leadership transitions
  • Ensure that the Board allocates the necessary resources to fund its strategic priorities
  • Streamline budget and finance operations

Update the investment policy to … (undertake within 1 year)

  • Increase yield to pay for new priorities and higher cost of current operations
  • Safeguard cash to pay for required operations and projects

Improve communications with the membership to … (undertake within 1 year)

  • Inform members of the co-op’s current and forthcoming challenges
  • Involve members in brainstorming solutions
  • Increase the number of members who actively participate in the co-op
  • Foster better relations between members, leadership, and staff
  • Demonstrate transparency in how the co-op conducts its business
  • Provide more information about Board and committee meetings
  • Deliver an updated and streamlined member handbook

Overhaul GHI’s technology infrastructure to … (undertake within 2-3 years)

  • Allow members, leadership, and staff to share information and communicate with each other
  • Digitize the paper records that document GHI’s current and past business operations
  • Incorporate social media tools
  • Connect GHI’s financial, maintenance, and member-services computer systems

Increase and diversify revenue streams through … (undertake within 5 years)

  • Effective utilization of GHI’s property
  • A fee-for-service program that can undertake major projects
  • Messaging GHI’s value to homebuyers as more than just money saved with focus on time saved and quality of life gained through location, manageable home/yard sizes, walkability, and more
  • More effort to win grants for special projects
  • Targeted business development outreach

Expand facilities management to include … (not yet scheduled)

  • Detailed specifications for how structures should be rebuilt if destroyed by fire or a severe-weather event
  • Plans for a next-level Homes Improvement Program that goes beyond replacing components to regenerate the community
  • Rebuild the natural swale system to better protect structures and land from water-related damage
  • Means through which members can charge electric vehicles
  • GHI’s own internet network

Author: Mo Hamilton

Mo Hamilton joined GHI in 2013 after living in the Washington area for 18 years. She lives in large yard that was sold with a block honeymoon cottage attached. Contact Mo at

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