Tag: Lori Vacek

WRAG launches new “Fundamentals of CSR” workshop

By Katy Moore
Director of Corporate Strategy
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

In the fall of 2013, WRAG, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, launched the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility – an exciting new professional development program designed specifically for CSR professionals. Since then, WRAG has received more than 30 requests for information about the Institute from business students, aspiring CSR professionals, fundraising consultants, and nonprofit leaders seeking to better understand CSR for the purposes of, for example, launching a CSR career, identifying and building new corporate relationships, or strengthening existing corporate partnerships.

WRAG heard these requests and is proud to announce the launch of The Fundamentals of CSR: A Two Day Workshop. The inaugural class will be held on April 23-24, 2015 at Pepco Edison Place Gallery and will feature more than 15 speakers and panelists from some of the largest and most respected companies in the Greater Washington region.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn directly from CSR professionals about topics such as the history, key components, and recent trends in CSR; the breadth, depth, and variety of CSR disciplines; how corporate philanthropy and community involvement fit within a company’s overall CSR strategy; what it’s REALLY like to be a CSR professional; understanding a company’s community investment resources; how to think like a corporate funder; and best practices for building strong corporate partnerships.

There will also be a number of interactive sessions where participants engage with each other, stretch their thinking, and apply their learnings, including sessions on “Learning to make the CSR Business Case” and “Designing a Community Investment Strategy.” Each of these sessions is designed to help registrants think like a corporate funder and understand – from the inside out – what motivates CSR professionals and a company’s overall CSR strategy.

We’re proud to offer this new opportunity and would like to thank the members of our curriculum design committee for making this new program a reality:

Naomi Smouha (Capital One)

Pam Holman (Pepco)

Tracye Funn (Washington Gas)

Kelly Waldron (United Way Worldwide)

Lori Vacek (Freddie Mac)

Jeannan Peterson (Bank of America)

To learn more about the workshop or to register please click here. For questions about the program, please contact Katy Moore at moore@washingtongrantmakers.org.

A Fresh Take

By Lori Vacek
Foundation Manager
Freddie Mac Foundation

When I first heard about the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), I was not sure about registering. Like many of us, I’ve attended numerous conferences, most of which have been interesting and provided a chance to network, but I was looking for something different – something fresh, inspiring, and substantive.

I found that in the Institute for CSR, and here’s why:

  • Throughout the year, we have been challenged to develop our own creativity. Dinah Dittman from Kaiser Permanente shared this TED talk and described how she strives to incorporate a sense of creativity into her work. This line of thinking was a nice complement to the more typical strategic perspective discussed at corporate conferences.
  •  From Jon Spector of The Conference Board, we heard that it is not always possible to “prove” the value of CSR with data (which can be compelling), but that it is our responsibility to make the business case for this work. For instance, offering meaningful employee volunteer opportunities supports retention and recruitment goals.
  • James Abruzzo from the Center for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers asked us to consider why a corporation would produce a product for which there was no viable market. A case study describing Merck’s handling of the decision to manufacture and give away a vaccine for river blindness in Africa “for as long as is necessary” was inspiring, and offered a strategic analysis of the decision making process from a senior management perspective.
  • Dane Smith from FSG and Sonal Shal from the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown discussed new frameworks and tools for achieving both business and social goals, including shared value and social impact bonds.
  • Lead faculty member, Tim McClimmon, of the American Express Foundation encouraged us to assume a greater CSR leadership role by, for example, authoring new case studies and creating new resources to strengthen the field.
  • And, most recently we were inspired by Mike Harreld, the head of PNC Bank in the Washington metropolitan region, who spoke clearly about how community involvement is “just what you do,” and described PNC’s role in both early childhood education and sustainability practices.

I’m only able to mention some of the many substantive speakers and discussions the Institute for CSR has offered, but,  overall, it’s provided a chance to step back, reflect, connect with peers (each session is like a day-long round table discussion!), dig deeper into current trends, learn about new resources, and to think anew about long-standing challenges.  I’d recommend it for all CSR practitioners interested in strengthening their programs and striving to “make a difference” for the stakeholders we serve.