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


For more information about the meeting, read Mo Hamilton’s coverage of the morning session.

Focus of the Afternoon Session

Following a lunch break, the GHI Board of Directors, the Audit Committee and the General Manager agreed that the remaining items to be discussed included a review of the annual strategic actions plan (the Plan), review of the two to five year goals and objectives and an exercise in long-range thinking.  There was some concern that there might not be enough time to cover all these items so the group decided to focus on the annual strategic action plan first.

The work session facilitator for the afternoon session was Becky Roberts, CPF, PMP who is the President of Catoctin Consulting, LLC .


Ms. Roberts said that the deliverable for this work session would be a report that contains notes from the activities that comprised the work session. She will also provide the group with a revised version of the Status of Board of Directors’ 12-mth Action Plan as of 7/12/2018 spreadsheet which was used during the review of the Plan.  She emphasized that this report was just a starting point for the group. It will be important for the group to review and finalize the content, including the spreadsheet.

A draft two to five year plan was included in the packet of materials distributed at the work session. The Board decided that the review of the Plan would also serve as a review of the two to five year strategic goals and objectives as the Plan includes the same goals and objectives.

Following the review of the Plan, the group revisited their wish list, developed during the the morning session of the workshop, to ensure that all the items were included in their goals and objectives and that the wording was similar. This review did result in a couple of additions and clarifications.

This review was followed by the long-range thinking exercise:

  • The group was told to imagine that the year was 2048.
  • They were provided with a series of directions that guided them through aspects of GHI.
  • They were asked to make notes on what they envisioned.
  • They were divided into small groups and asked to create a consolidated set of key vision elements.
  • These key elements were shared with the large group.

Some examples of the key elements that were shared with the large group follow:

  • There was consensus that the board room would look different. More technology and better  ways and better space for members to participate in meetings.
  • One group envisioned the administration building preserved while others saw a entirely new building with all the green certifications.
  • Instead of solar panels, buildings would use solar tiles.
  • One group saw more office space built above the current building.
  • More staff able to work off-site.
  • One member envisioned the use of robots.
  • There was consensus that an environmental emphasis continues throughout the cooperative.
  • One group believed that staff would have more of a remote presence, and that using new technology, our homes would be monitored so staff would be alerted to problems before members could report them.
  • Different leadership but the co-op continues to be strong.
  • Members biking, walking, valuing outside and valuing physical activity.
  • Evidence of gentrification.
  • Homes looking like they are ready for the next HIP
  • Power lines are buried
  • Push back on historic preservation. The exteriors will be maintained but there will be changes that are new.
  • Still have the original Greenbelt plan.
  • Woods would still be there.
  • Enhanced business around Roosevelt Center with quality businesses.
  • Transportation would include electric bikes and scooters.
  • More people work at home and have products delivered.
  • Use Lyft and Uber  as needed.
  • GHI might serve as a business incubator.
  • If they saw a newspaper what would be the headline about GHI?
    • One answer was that GHI fees were eliminated by business success that pays for all expenses.
    • GHI Acquired all Historic Apartment Buildings.
    • GHI Built Retirement Homes.
    • Development Pressure on GHI Increases.

During the wrap-up of the work session, it was evident that both the Board, the Audit Committee and the General Manager were very pleased with the facilitator, and felt that the work session had been very productive.

Highlights of the review of the 2018-2019 Strategic Action Plan follow.

Highlights of the Strategic Action Plan Review

Using the Status of Board of Director’s 12-mth Action Plan as of 7/12/2018 spreadsheet as the starting point, the group began their annual review of the Plan.  According to the Board President, he keeps this document close at hand as he finds it a good reminder of what items need to be addressed by the Board and the priority the Board has ascribed to each planned strategy or action. The spreadsheet contains the following items: strategic goal, objective, action  number, actions, priority, whether it is a board, committee, or staff responsibility, comments on the status, and the status of each action. Each goal and objective is also part of the Board’s two to five year strategy.

Priority is expressed as a letter.  An A priority indicates that the action should be addressed this year. The letter B indicates that the action is on the list but may not be addressed this year. The 2017-2018 Plan also included items that had a priority of C.  Please note in the highlights that follow, if a priority is not mentioned for an action, the priority is A.

There are five strategic goal areas in the Plan:

  • A. Buildings and Property,
  • B. Organization and Infrastructure,
  • C. Financial Stability,
  • D. External Communication, and
  • E. Internal Communication.

A. Buildings and Property

The first objective under this goal area was A.1 Complete HIP through 2020.  The cohort years were updated for the 2018-2019 actions associated with this objective. Actions covered topics such as completing Year 3 and beginning Year 4, reviewing Year 3 and make process improvements based on these findings for Year 4, continue member education about HIP, continue masonry and frame crawlspace improvements including asbestos removal.

Another action that was part of the 2017-2018 Plan was to continue to document HIP for posterity. The General Manager mentioned that the Board will soon be receiving a couple of reports documenting previous HIP years. (This item has a priority of B.)

An action to establish a process for members to monitor their own HIP installations was not started this past year and will be dropped as an action item from the Plan.

A second objective was A.2 Implement Sustainable Practices. This objective included the GHI administration complex solar project. According to the GHI President the updated action item will also include a part two which is to investigate bringing solar to the Parkway Apartments.

Under the A.3 Maintain and Protect Buildings and Grounds objective:

  • An action that was to be updated involved reviewing the results of a survey on sandblasting damage to brick units and to make recommendations for repairs if necessary.  The survey is complete and so a budget item will be considered based on the results of the survey. The priority associated with this action is B.
  • Evaluation of Community Beautification Program is now an ongoing action and its priority has changed from a B to an A.
  • The Board will continue to negotiate with WSSC concerning the pipe replacements for the masonry homes. (Priority updated to A.)
  • Although the Board did receive a report from the Additions Maintenance Task Force, they also gave the Task Force two new directives so this action item will remain part of the the 2018-2019 Plan.
  • Consider appropriate solutions for screening, fencing, sheds, plants, rain barrels, and patios, etc. will remain on the Plan with a priority of B. Initially this action also included drainage issues. This piece is being assigned to the Storm Management Task Force with direction from the Board.

A.4 Historical Preservation has no actions. It is deferred with a priority of C.

A.5 Coordinate efforts with external entities, e.g., City, County, State, Federal Government, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission includes:

  • An action to collaborate with the City of Greenbelt re the Zoning Rewrite Project.
  • An action to establish a memorandum of understanding with the City of Greenbelt for the utilization of  yard areas with Rights of Way (ROW) encroachments (The priority is a B).

A.6  Plan for Purchase of Future Apartment Complexes was reworded to Plan for Future Business Opportunities. The action under this objective includes developing a methodology for future business opportunities which may include a membership vote, as a change in GHI’s bylaws and articles of association may be necessary. (Priority is B.)

B. Organization and Infrastructure

  • It was decided to make Objective B.1 Develop 30 Year Strategic Plan broader and move it to C. Financial Stability. The renamed objective is to Develop Future Business Opportunities.
  • B.2 Improve Operation of the Board addresses actions such as provide training of the Board (which will be ongoing), and create understudy programs for officers of the Board.
  • Because of legal concerns the action to consider remote participation in board meetings was dropped.
  • B.3 Improve Committee Operation and Promote Member Involvement includes actions such as:
    • Provide training for committee chairs;
    • Increase participation in committees (the priority has been changed to an A); and
    • Continue volunteer recognition program  (Priority is B).
  • B.4  Prepare for Succession of Administrative Staff addresses the likelihood that a number of  key GHI staff will be retiring at the end of the HIP.  Of particular concern to the group is the retirement of the General Manager which is scheduled to occur once HIP and the asbestos remediation is complete.  There was a request to the facilitator to make this item an A+ priority.
  • There was discussion of hiring a qualified individual for the General Manager position about a year before the current General Manager retires. This would allow the individual to be up to speed when the current General Manager leaves. It would also provide the Board with the option to replace this individual if it became clear they couldn’t handle the job.
  • The General Manager said that he is identifying staff in every department who could become acting directors if the department director retires. This would provide someone to maintain continuity for a few months until a new hire can be made. He also ended by saying that once he retired, if the new General Manager did not work out, the current General Manager could always return for a a few months until the position could be filled.
  • B.5 Review and Develop Policies includes the following actions:
    • An action that will create a task force to look at member complaints  against staff.
    • An action that would have the Board consider having a subset of Board members interview prospective members.
    • An action to review and update the Member Handbook. Discussion centered on whether to hire someone to review the Member Handbook, Board policies, and the GHI website and make sure they are all in sync. This led to discussion of hiring an Information Officer.
  • B.6 Review and Update Bylaws includes the action to continue bylaws updates. This action will be part of the 2018-2019 Plan as the Board has several updates to the bylaws in mind (Priority changes to A).
  • A new objective was added to this goal. It will be B.7  Operational Efficiency. The first action under this objective will be to consider a business process review to maximize operational efficiency.

C. Financial Stability

  • A new objective will be added: Develop a Strategic Plan for  Business Opportunities. The strategic action under this objective is to develop a plan for future business development.
  • C.1 Review/Modify RRF, AMP, and Contingency Funds currently includes actions that were completed such as the contingency funds, the Replacement Reserves Fund Study, and the Addition Maintenance Project.  For the 2018-2019 Plan, the remaining strategic action will be to complete the review of the Replacement Reserves Fund Study and the Addition Maintenance Project.
  • C.2 Practice Transparent Financial Reporting will include the action to continue education on GHI finances, including members’ charges, inflation, and what’s included in monthly fees.  These education efforts will target both members and the Board.
  • C.3 Increase Grant-based Income Activities was updated with a strategic action to focus on acquiring volunteers to search for/apply for grants. (Priority is B.)

D. External Communications

  • The D.1 Attract People Drawn to Co-ops and Community Living objective’s strategic action was rewritten to place emphasis on supporting the Members Outreach Committee which among other activities is planning to participate in upcoming community events, such as National Night Out. This action will have an ongoing status.
  • The D.2 Coordinate Efforts with External Entities objective includes the strategic action to continue to refer issues to the Legislative Affairs Committee (LAC) and have them monitor (for issues and legislation that will have an impact on GHI) and report back (to the Board).  The Audit Committee asked if the Board could direct LAC to place more focus on legislation at the County level. The Board agreed.
  • The D.3 Be a Leader in Cooperative Living and Co-ops objective includes the strategic action to “Influence the shape of the Common Ownership Communities (COC) program in PG Co and MD.”

E. Internal Communications

  • The E.1 Increase Cooperative Living Education, Including About Co-op Finances objective keeps a strategic action to conduct two town hall meetings. The Board added a new action under this objective to consider a new Information Officer position to coordinate communications and to develop a strategic communications plan.  Also strategic actions that were under E.3 Use Technology for Improved Member Access and Communication have either been completed or have been moved as strategic actions under E.1. The actions that were moved under E.1 include:
    • Develop a proactive social media plan to include regular tweets and the use of Facebook for official dissemination of information.
    • Explore better ways of obtaining member feedback on topics. (Priority B)
    • Investigate how to employ internet technologies to increase opportunities for participation in meetings. (Priority C)
    • Investigate member portal commercial packages and budget for it.
  • The E.2 Increase Cooperative Spirit objective includes the actions:
    • To develop an annual member survey which has been assigned to the Member Outreach Committee and is in process.  This survey should collect input geared towards improving GHI. (Priority C)
    • To set-up a schedule for Board members to attend the pre-purchase orientations for new members.

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