Testimonials

Foundations

“We were extremely pleased with Communitas during the entire strategic planning process. Saphira assisted us from the beginning and coached us through until we ended up with a terrific finished product. My trustees were so impressed with her style and are delighted with our plan for the future.”

Kathy Dunleavy, Executive Director
Mary Black Foundation, Spartanburg, South Carolina

“Communitas Consulting ably enabled our board and leadership team to make a key strategic shift in our grant making. We are now focused sharply on investing in results, and on convening, collaborating and leading the community to achieve improvements needed in the region. Saphira and Lydia are excellent facilitators, evaluators, and champions for developing and adopting new frameworks. The end product is compelling in its simplicity and focus.”

John Sherman
Past Chairman
The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia

“Communitas Consulting accelerated our foundation’s efforts to move from traditional grant making to an approach where we prioritize and support investments that positively impact the community. Lydia and Saphira conducted extensive outreach to our stakeholders, donors, and grantees. They analyzed our investments, put together a logical and inspiring set of community result statements, and then helped our team translate this into a grant application and review format that streamlines the way we do business. Their steady and clear guidance was tremendously valuable.”

Farhad Aghdami
The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia
 

“Saphira Baker is not only a highly-skilled consultant and coach, but shared the passion of our mission. She understands the heart of the not-for-profit world and shares her expertise with skill and true caring about the outcome. ”

Ray Mishler, Vice President
Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation
Charlottesville, Virginia
 

“The report Communitas coordinated gives a powerful visual to the culmination of months of hard work and excellent attention to detail…..How fortunate we feel to have had the opportunity to work with you.”

Gina L. Pitrone
Former Executive Director
Obici Healthcare Foundation
 

Non-Profit Organizations

“When Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond embarked on the revision of its Regional Plan for School Readiness, we turned to Saphira Baker to facilitate this bold and ambitious new plan for kindergarten readiness. Saphira orchestrated this effort skillfully and strategically, and provided inspirational leadership to our partnership as we developed this new three-year vision. She is masterful at synthesizing complex information, and worked closely with our coalition leadership in building a new plan that reflects the priorities of our region. Through her expert facilitation, our partnership has committed to higher levels of regional accountability, as we work together to ensure that all children enter kindergarten ready to succeed.”

Rich Schultz, Executive Director
Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond
Richmond, VA

 

“We brought Communitas Consulting in to guide the staff and leadership of two separate community coalitions in a decision on whether to merge. Within a short period, Saphira was able to lead the group in conducting due diligence, building trust, and adopting a common vision and a unified structure. We believe that the resulting merger, and the detailed work plan Communitas created with the group, will result in a stronger early childhood development system for the region. We return to Saphira again and again for assistance with our organizational consulting needs because of our great confidence in her expertise and admiration for her approach.”

Kathy Glazer, President
Virginia Early Childhood Foundation
Richmond, VA

 

“Saphira designed and managed a fast-paced project where JFF team members worked collaboratively to develop innovative workforce development concepts. She created a productive and creative space to share and build on ideas, and coached staff in writing compelling concept papers. Because of its success, we replicated the process with a second set of managers, and, collectively, the concepts have resulted in new partnerships and increased funding for JFF.”

Maria Flynn, President and CEO,
Jobs For The Future, Boston, MA

 

“Communitas Consulting provided an exceptional evaluation of our collaborative grants program along with practical tools we used to implement their recommendations, such as new grant guidelines and a check list for grantee readiness. Through interviews, focus groups, surveys, and their team’s expertise in organizational collaboration, Communitas helped us invest more strategically, streamline our process, and establish benchmarks for future allocations. We are pleased with the work and highly recommend them to others seeking a rigorous evaluation with immediate application.”

Tina R. Trent
Senior Director, Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation, NeighborWorks®, Washington, DC

 

“Saphira worked with us on a strategic plan and is working with us now on a specific project that will define us for years to come. She possesses a remarkable ability to move from the big picture to the details and back again, and she does it seamlessly.  Saphira is both incredibly smart and intuitive. She is warm and kind and generous of spirit in a way that is unique. We are so very fortunate for the opportunity to work with her.”

Frank K. Grosch
Former Executive Director
Piedmont Housing Alliance
Charlottesville, Virginia
 

“Saphira is extremely skilled in the many facets of strategic planning, strategic thinking, organizational development, and change management. She has deep knowledge of community initiatives, public/private partnerships, qualitative and quantitative evaluation, and is the consummate professional.”

Lisa Specter-Dunaway
Virginia Home Visiting Consortium CEO and President, CHIP of Virginia
 

“Communitas skillfully engaged our staff, board, clients, and external stakeholders in a dynamic strategic planning process that has made us more focused and efficient, which is critical in these economic times. Saphira Baker worked as a true partner with us, helping us make tough decisions and affirm our core passion and mission, while providing us with practical tools throughout the process. Her ability to capture, analyze and communicate information from a diverse group of people is outstanding, as is her ability to facilitate a high energy and productive retreat. I have been through several strategic planning processes in my career and I must say this was the most enjoyable and fruitful that I can remember.”

Peter J. Prizzio, M. ED., Chief Executive Officer
Daily Planet, Richmond, Virginia

Government

“Saphira Baker of Communitas Consulting has done several projects for us and her work is first rate. It starts with the preparation and planning. Her meeting management is superb, and her follow-up reporting provides actionable steps.”
 
Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel, Jr.
Co-chair, Virginia Governor’s Children’s Cabinet
Richmond, VA
  
 
“I can’t say enough good things about Saphira Baker and Communitas Consulting. She invests the time in preparation, and truly listening to stakeholders, that leads to a successful engagement.  Saphira provided a useful and practical structure for our community’s retreat. She promotes interest and involvement from everyone at the table. Saphira always provides tremendous insight, but in a way that that ensures that the group’s ideas and will are preserved and honored. I believe this process builds ownership, and has left our community with a really valuable product to guide our work with children and families. I’m grateful we were able to work with Saphira and would look forward to doing so in the future.”
 
Mike Murphy, Community Planning and Management Team Chair
City of Charlottesville, Virginia  
 
“Saphira Baker of Communitas Consulting produced an excellent report for the City of Norfolk with detailed recommendations to reduce poverty.  The writing is  easily understandable to a range of audiences, captures extensive local and national research, and reflects local priorities.  Saphira’s capacity to facilitate and organize 34 Commissioners over the course of ten months was impressive. We anticipate that Norfolk will make headway in reducing poverty with the aid of the report and the support of the citizens and city staff who are part of this process.”
 
Honorable Paul Fraim, Former Mayor, City of Norfolk, Virginia 

“Saphira Baker with Communitas Consulting produced a report that provides a strong process and framework for reducing poverty in Norfolk.  She assisted the Commission through a 
well-planned process that was targeted to our needs.  She listened carefully to our thoughts along the way, proactively sought feedback from members and offered concepts and recommendations that would work among various stakeholders.  Her knowledge of local government processes was an added bonus to her facilitation skills.”
 
Susan L. Perry, Ph.D., Management Analyst III, City of Norfolk, Virginia
 

“Thanks to Saphira Baker and her team, the Family and Children’s Trust Fund (FACT) has been able to promote the use of family violence data in communities in ways that we never could have imagined! Over the past four years, the Communitas team transformed large amounts of quantitative and qualitative information from various data sources into a format that was easily accessible and understandable to a wide range of human service professionals. Communitas’ commitment to quality and detail in each publication of the Violence at Home: The FACT Report and Issue Brief has helped stakeholders raise awareness, build capacity, and coordinate multi-disciplinary responses to preventing and treating family violence. Communitas is a top-notch firm, and FACT was fortunate to work with them on such an exciting project.”

Hayley Mathews, Executive Director,
Family and Children’s Trust Fund of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia
  

“We are thrilled with the progress in reducing homelessness in Virginia. It seems that the stars were aligned with federal policy, our state plan, and the grant through the National Alliance to End Homelessness funded by the Freddie Mac Foundation. Homelessness decreased 16 percent between 2010 and 2013 surpassing the goal of 15 percent. Family homelessness decreased by 17 percent. Implementation the strategies laid out in the Report and recommendations was paramount to this success and Communitas was critical to the development of those -so congratulations and thanks.”

Kathy D. Robertson, Associate Director, Homelessness and Special Needs Housing,
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Richmond, Virginia
  

“Communitas Consulting did a terrific job creating the first Cabinet-level plan to address homelessness in the Commonwealth. Saphira Baker’s ability to build consensus among a group of passionate individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise was impressive, as was her background research and expertise, and her engagement of local stakeholders across the State. The resulting report is top-notch.”

Bob Sledd, Former Senior Economic Advisor to the Governor
Commonwealth of Virginia
  
 

Post-Secondary Educational Institutions

“It was a pleasure working with Saphira Baker to capture core aspects of our blended facilitation approach in Facilitation for Community Change. She brought tremendous flexibility needed to incorporate multiple perspectives while also writing the guide in welcoming language.”

Jason Smith, Ph.D.
Interim Executive Director
Bridging RVA, Richmond, Virginia

 

“Communitas Consulting was instrumental in assisting our transition team to identify the core issues that Bridging Richmond and a new Executive Director were facing. Communitas worked closely with our planning team and community partners to balance the process of soliciting feedback and input with the need to make efficient and best use of everyone’s time. The research and recommendations from the process resulted in a powerful report that infused new energy and structure into our collaborative organization and established a clear path forward for the new Executive. Saphira Baker’s use of data, interviews, and community input, combined with her focus on results and her capability as a facilitator, make for a winning combination.“

Dr. Beverly J. Warren
Former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
 
 
 
 

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