Kelly Griffin has been supporting complicated organizations navigate significant strategy and culture changes for more than 20 years. She has served as a trusted advisor and thought partner of C-suite leaders, Board members, and department heads while leading teams through the process of creating strategic plans, driving strategy execution and performance measurement processes, and guiding change management. As a consultant, she serves nonprofit clients with missions from ending hunger to solving homelessness to correcting policing inequity to curing life-threatening disease. As a full-time employee, she led processes to identify major strategic shifts and build bridges to successful execution at three national organizations and a government agency. Her work helps organizations clarify their strategies, improve their strategic agility, and drive toward measurable outcomes. She is also certified as an executive coach.
Where did you study and get your start professionally? What other hats did you wear before becoming a social impact consultant?
My first job out of college was an internship at AARP – an 800-pound gorilla of a nonprofit – where I learned much about how nonprofits work and the power they can yield. I began as a health policy wonk but soon discovered big-picture strategy and never looked back. For the past 20+ years, I have worked in and consulted for nonprofits of various missions and sizes. My favorite thing to do (professionally, anyway) is to help people lift their heads up from their day-to-day tasks and think about the finish line years down the road. I have two degrees in anthropology (from Bryn Mawr College and the University of Maryland), and I feel that part of my job is to understand the culture in each nonprofit with which I work. I am also the proud author of a bold new book about nonprofit effectiveness in Solve, Not Serve: What Other Nonprofit Management Books Won’t Tell You, published by New Degree Press, 2022.
What do you feel you do best for your clients and fellow team members at Wachs Strategies?
I know how to help complicated organizations navigate big strategy and culture change. During the transition from old to new, I am a trusted advisor and thought partner for C-suite leaders, Board members, department heads, and fellow Wachs Strategy advisors as we work from strategic plans to strategy execution and performance measurement. I empower my clients by clarifying their strategies, improving their strategic agility, and driving toward measurable outcomes.
I have worked with organizations with missions that range from ending hunger to solving homelessness to correcting policing inequity to curing life-threatening disease. We use research and landscape analysis to set clear priorities, develop and cultivate sustainable leadership practices, make brave decisions, and implement and measure progress.
What are the components that go into maintaining a successful client and consultant relationship over time?
I think that building genuine trust, soliciting honest input, and intentionally making everyone feel heard are the pillars of a successful client-consultant relationship. I always say that the process is just as important as the product, so we carefully design our projects to build ownership and enthusiasm for the final deliverables. Our work often involves collecting perspectives and ideas from a variety of stakeholders, and the best data comes when people feel confident that their input is valued. We have found that the best input is given when people have the right opportunity to share it, so we deliberately design projects to accommodate different learning, processing, and participation styles – and we do not rush strategic thinking.
What are you passionate about besides your work?
I am an avid traveler who has been to 40+ countries and lived abroad. Music is also really important to me – I have sung and danced all my life (including a local DC chorus for the past 15 years), and took up the cello during the pandemic. I also proudly serve as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Spitfire Club, a local nonprofit that nurtures young girls’ love of reading, love of self, and love of community. In between these passions, you can find me socializing (major extrovert), doing extreme workouts, reading, or hunching over complicated jigsaw puzzles.