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Episode 29: Purpose-Driven Strategy

Jennifer Mulholland & Jeff Shuck
April 1, 2021
What is purpose, really? And, how do we find it?
On this week's episode, we talk with two of our treasured clients, Elizabeth Carey, President and CEO and Derek Allen, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at Starr Commonwealth. 
It might sound cheesy, but Starr Commonwealth is an absolutely magical organization. Starr is a global pioneer in trauma-informed care and resilience training, with over a hundred years of legacy helping children and families flourish. One of it's guiding principles was coined by its founder, Floyd Starr, over a hundred years ago: "There's no such thing as a bad child."
We first met Elizabeth and Derek and the rest of the Starr organization three years ago when we facilitated our purpose-driven strategy process, Meridian.
As many of our clients do, Starr came to us with big challenges on the table. Pre-pandemic, they needed help charting their course into the future while staying true to their rich historical roots. 
Through a series of discovery workshops, intimate interviews, board, executive, and staff involvement, an onsite retreat and a lot of creative synthesis, we helped Starr align on a simple map to guide their next few years. And, lo and behold, it was perfectly timed for what was about to unfold in 2020. 
Tune in to this fascinating story as we explore:
  • [14:40] Anchoring every conversation and decision around an organizational belief system
  • [19:18] Navigating tough organizational decisions in order to chart a new way forward 
  • [24:00] Shifting to a mindset of abundance 
  • [26:00] Using a heart centered, inside-out approach to purpose driven strategy
  • [30:45] How to stay true to your organizational blueprint 
  • [40:02] The importance of organizational alignment 



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Conscious Conversations With Leaders Like You 

Elizabeth Carey

Elizabeth Carey has three decades of experience in the field of social and human services. As President and CEO of Starr Commonwealth, Elizabeth provides leadership and direction, and serves as one of Starr’s most passionate advocates for systems-level change for childhood whole health. In her previous role of chief strategy officer, she helped shape the future of this century-old organization, modernizing our approach to providing positive experiences so all children can flourish.

Prior to joining Starr Commonwealth in 2010, she served as Director of Government Relations for the Council on Accreditation, as Executive Director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, and as Senior Vice President and COO for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.

She holds Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Social Work from Michigan State University.

Derek Allen

Derek Allen, MA ACTP, Starr Commonwealth’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, provides administrative leadership and supervision to all Starr programs and departments as well as leads the organization’s business development efforts. Programs include school- and community-based behavioral health services, trauma screening/assessment and intervention services, the Resilient Schools Project, professional training and consulting, and eLearning certification and degreed programs for professionals around the world.

He also serves as a Senior Consultant for Starr’s trauma-informed, resilience-focused approach. In this role, Derek works with schools, organizations, and communities around the country in their implementation of system-wide approaches that best support the needs of students and families who have experienced trauma, adversity, toxic stress, and/or systemic racism and oppression.

He provides “thought-leadership” to the Starr organization in the areas of strength-based approaches in education and treatment and building resilience in children and families. Derek is currently pursuing a doctoral degree from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Though Derek is proud of the work of Starr Commonwealth and honored to serve as a senior leader, he is clear that his role as a father is the “most important hat” he will ever wear. His son, Sam, is his “reason for being”. Derek’s other son, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Oliver (Ollie), also keeps him busy. When he is not working or spending time with Sam and Ollie, Derek enjoys traveling, binge watching “good shows” and movies, trying new restaurants, and/or “hanging out” with his close knit group of best friends. 

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Meridian: Purpose-Driven Strategy

Creating a Purpose-Driven Strategy

Meridian, our acclaimed strategic planning process, helps organizations align their passions, explore potential pathways, and build the right plans to create a better world.

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