On Wednesday, September 14, the Human Services Council hosted our 2016 Annual Membership Meeting. The morning of #WorkingForChange included a panel discussion on the challenges faced by the human services workforce, a briefing on HSC’s FY17 work, an update on our governance change and vote on a slate of our new Board of Directors, and a presentation from Bridgespan on real costs of providing services.
Working for Change: Challenges of the Human Services Workforce Panel
Human service providers – and a diverse workforce – form the foundations of wellbeing by delivering services for physical, emotional, and economic health in communities served. There are many constraints that our sector faces as we work to support and implement progressive labor policies. It is critical that we overcome these constraints in order to strengthen the human services workforce and expand opportunity within it.
In a dynamic discussion facilitated by Jonathan Bowles from the Center for an Urban Future, panelists addressed said issues from an economic lens; they explored factors that drive wages and which policies can sustain and strengthen our sector’s workforce. The panel comprised the following individuals:
- Heidi Shierholz, Chief Economist to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
- New York State Senator David Carlucci, Chair of Senate Committee on Social Services
- New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of Committee on Finance
- Melanie Hartzog, Deputy Director at NYC Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
- Christine C. Quinn, CEO of Win
The discussion highlighted the way inequity manifests in the frontlines of the sector and emphasized the crucial role of direct service staff. Dr. Shierholz noted that, “Human services workers will take lower pay for meaningful work, but still need a living wage.” In conveying the harsh reality that many direct service staff in human services agencies need the same services they might be providing, Ms. Quinn alluded to a point made by Dr. Shierholz: the workforce of the social services sector is disproportionately women of color and individuals of low socioeconomic status.
Panelists discussed the difficulty of retaining staff to maintain the quality services that serve communities without funding for organizations for wages and indirect costs. However, Councilmember Ferreras-Copeland challenged the sector to communicate our full costs to the City Council because “Nonprofits should not assume that elected officials know the real cost of running programs.” As such, our sector also needs to speak with a collective voice and what is needed to fully serve New York’s communities.
Updates on HSC and HSC FY17 Priorities
Following the discussion, Allison Sesso, Executive Director of HSC, presented HSC’s vision and plan for the upcoming year. She honed in on points discussed during the panel: “if we are to effect tangible change, we can no longer afford to allow the current approach in which providers are paid less than true cost, have no funding to invest in our institutions, and continue to employ a low-wage workforce.”
Allison Sesso, Executive Director of HSC
HSC’s “Call to Action” Commission Report, released earlier this year, largely sets out the vision for the change we need and positioned HSC as a leading voice on nonprofit issues. HSC’s report has been referenced in stories found in mainstream media and national nonprofit publications and HSC has been asked to present around the country. As promised, the “Call to Action” is an active report and will continue to drive our work in the coming year.
Highlights of HSC’s work in the coming year include:
- Risk assessment including the development of an RFP Rater; a Government Agency Performance Scorecard; and participation in Ahead of the Curve, a collaborative brainstorming amongst capacity building groups serving NYC nonprofits around risk
- Program Collaboration through a new working group being launched by the City and partnership with State leaders like Fran Barrett, the Interagency Coordinator for Non-profit Organizations
- Capitalizing the sector by understanding the real costs of running various programs and advocating for greater investments by the City and State for our organizations and the human services workforce
- Disaster Preparedness by partnering with the DOHMH to develop a sector-wide plan for disaster response
- Equity Agenda through encouraging our sector to appreciate our own biases at play and actively developing and moving strategies forward for these conversations
Additionally, she introduced the launching of HSC’s newest campaigns, Restore Opportunity Now and Fund the 15, with our partners FPWA and FPI to help highlight the role of human services and make a case for further investment by the state.
After detailing HSC’s development of statewide partnerships, legislative goals, and grassroots functionality with the Advocacy Institute, Allison spoke to the internal restructuring of HSC, and introduced changes to our Governance approach and membership engagement strategy.
Sesso with Joel Copperman and Dr. Jeremy Kohomban
HSC’s New Board of Directors
Nancy Wackstein, the head of HSC’s Transition Committee, described the process HSC went through this year to change our Governance structure and introduced the new Board slate. Joel Copperman, HSC’s Board Chair, presided over the vote for our new Board of Directors, which can be found here. The vote decreased the size of our Board of Directors to thirteen members with an additional three “lay” individuals to be identified, recruited and vetted at a later date.
After a unanimous vote, we were honored to welcome Dr. Jeremy Kohomban as our new Board Chair and the rest of our new Board of Directors. Their leadership will be instrumental in building an even stronger and more impactful HSC.
We would also like to extend our deepest gratitude to Joel Copperman for serving as the Board Chair from 2010-2016. His leadership and partnership has been instrumental to HSC’s growth and positioning. We appreciate the amount of time, effort, and dedication Mr. Copperman has poured into HSC to make sure we continue to work towards our mission and vision. We are also very thankful that Mr. Copperman will be staying on for one more year in the ex-officio role to ensure a smooth transition.
Bridgespan Presentation – Paying What it Takes to Achieve Results
To conclude HSC’s Annual Membership Meeting, Alex Neuhoff and Leslie MacKrell from Bridgespan gave a presentation on the study found in their article, “Pay What It Takes Philanthropy,” on nonprofit indirect costs. In their presentation, they discussed the fact that indirect costs for organizations differ greatly across segments and sectors and that indirect costs at organizations are often greater than what is typically provided by funders.
Bridgespan led a conversation around their study’s methodology and previewed their upcoming research project on looking at the indirect costs of greater numbers of nonprofit organizations. To find a copy of their presentation, click here.
Understanding the real or true costs of doing business and building funding approaches that take these into account is critical to the future of nonprofit human service organizations. HSC is focused on this topic as it is a key component to the financial health of our membership and we are thrilled to be engaging Bridgespan in conversations on this topic.
HSC is looking forward to working on behalf of the sector in this coming year. We would like to thank our members and all of our funders for their support of our work:
- Altman Foundation
- The Clark Foundation
- Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
- The Kresge Foundation
- New York City Council
- The New York Community Trust
- United Way of New York City
- UJA-Federation of New York
We have an ambitious agenda and look forward to working with all of our members, funders, and supporters this coming year!