The Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of minorities in all aviation and aerospace careers. They partnered with Talley in 2020 as their volunteers struggled to balance their association duties and full-time jobs. We came in as full-service association management to free up time for their board members and help relieve volunteer members' administrative tasks so they could focus on the most impactful work.
We quickly started improving their overall administration and management, starting with finding and hiring a new Executive Director, Samantha Whitfield for them. Bringing Samantha in provided OBAP with a central leader they could rely on to set the direction and oversee all things management, freeing up time for their volunteers and board. Samantha immediately began identifying where Talley could be most impactful, and we quickly realized that one of their most urgent needs was staffing to oversee national efforts.
Supporting Volunteer Efforts
OBAP has an extensive workforce development program that spans ten stages with the goal of nurturing potential aerospace professionals from elementary school to higher education all the way through to the job search. As a volunteer-run program, OBAP needed help allocating their volunteer resources and managing the moving parts within the workforce development model in order to ensure that they provided quality education and experiences for Black children with an interest in aerospace and aviation.
While this strain on resources was already apparent, it became a top priority for OBAP when they were unable to fully staff an upcoming session of their Explore Aerospace program. Through this program, OBAP members engage with middle and high schoolers interested in aerospace to foster interest in the profession. Unfortunately, in 2021, they lost some key facilitators who could lead this program and continue their admirable work.
Faced with the possibility that the program would be canceled, our team stepped in. At the beginning of our engagement, we had anticipated issues with volunteer staffing based on how crucial volunteer participation is to them. When the issues with volunteer management became a top priority, we implemented a strategy to improve management that was already in the works. We were ready to launch the solution to solve this specific bump in the road.
Putting Our Plan in Action
While the most pressing issue to tackle was staffing the Explore Aerospace program, we also needed to work with OBAP to understand the full scope of their activities and volunteer needs. As we began understanding the full story with OBAP, we were better prepared to solve their short-term needs with the Explore Aerospace program and start working on long-term solutions. With this approach. We were able to bring our full-service management expertise to OBAP and guide them down the right path.
Solving for volunteer recruitment and logistics with technology
The Talley team and OBAP volunteers jumped into action and began implementing the plan to get the Explore Aerospace program, and volunteer efforts in general, back on track. Our first priority was to recruit quickly and effectively so that we could find replacement facilitators for the program. Thanks to previous engagements with other clients, we knew to begin implementing a flexible interview process.
We used virtual, asynchronous hiring platforms to interview new recruits so that interviewees and interviewers could interview and review on their own time. This greatly helped the already overwhelmed OBAP team as they balanced volunteer and professional responsibilities, and allowed them to work quickly and fill facilitator roles, in a way that was convenient and efficient for them.
Along with the volunteer interview process, we also implemented a volunteer management platform to avoid any crises like this in the future. We were able to move volunteer communication and scheduling into one convenient, cloud-based platform, so volunteers knew exactly what they were expected to do to ease the burden on their busy schedules.
Instead of relying on the volunteer leaders to manage a spreadsheet of all volunteer information and schedules, the platform hosted everything. Now, each volunteer can automatically view shifts based on their qualifications, specialties, and background check credentials instead of having a volunteer leader organize all of the opportunities, which saves time for OBAP’s busy volunteers.
With these solutions, OBAP staffed their Explore Aerospace program in time to host a successful event. Thanks to OBAP’s willingness to move quickly and try new platforms, we were able to get the program on track and keep delivering educational touchpoints for children. Now, the hiring platform and volunteer management platform have allowed OBAP to avoid crises like this and stay ahead of volunteer management, one of our top goals when we started working with them.
Aligning the board
As the immediate pressure lifted, we were able to take a holistic look at OBAP’s board, volunteers, and the delegation of responsibilities. After we had solved the organization’s immediate needs at the beginning of our engagement by successfully hiring an executive director and streamlining their volunteer management, we turned to some organizational changes.
At this point, we realized that the organization’s initiatives were siloed with very little interaction between the programs, which made it difficult for leadership to coordinate and plan efforts. Although each program, like Explore Aerospace, operated under the workforce development model, the management of each one was separate. Individual programs ran like well-oiled machines, but there was a lack of coordination and cohesion overall. As a result, the board struggled to implement new initiatives or make changes to programs. There needed to be additional management to align all of OBAP’s efforts and ensure that everyone was working to uphold their mission.
Our biggest and most rewarding push was a board training session – championed and led by the executive director we helped place. In our decades of experience as an AMC, we’ve learned when it’s important to reconvene a board and bring them back to the core of their mission to keep everyone on the same page and ready for the future. OBAP was primed to benefit from a board training program, especially as the board transitioned from a working board to a non-working board.
Though OBAP was initially resistant to the idea of a board training, as they had been in operation since 1976, it helped coalesce their efforts, refine their intentions, and prepare the organization for its next steps. Specifically, we focused on reviewing roles, responsibilities, and the direction of the organization with OBAP’s leadership.
Aligning the team and creating a global view of the organization was immensely helpful to support all of the smaller changes we helped them make in their volunteer recruitment and onboarding process. On a larger scale, board training allowed everyone to come together and prepare for the future, making it easier to implement structural changes while staying dedicated to delivering quality development programs for aspiring aviation professionals.
Now the board can move forward with their wonderful work that benefits both the future of the aerospace profession and helps youth realize their career goals. At the end of our sessions, OBAP’s chairman remarked, “Talley helped build a staff team that is both capable and empowered to perform their roles effectively.”
Understanding the Value of a Management Partner
For an organization like OBAP that relies heavily on volunteer participation, and especially busy STEM professionals, external support is a must. Often we see associations get bogged down in administrative responsibilities and pulled away from the mission that they’re passionate about.
Now, with our support, OBAP members can focus on delivering on their mission and helping students and professionals in their industry. Removing the burden of executive administration with a new executive director benefitted OBAP immensely and their chairman, Captain Joel Webley, noted, “This person joining our team has been instrumental in helping us transition into a higher performing organization.”
Now that OBAP doesn’t need to worry about small details, like staffing their programs, they can focus on improving the content and strategy of their educational events. OBAP has been able to seize opportunities that otherwise would have passed them by without these improvements. Thanks to their incredible work, they’re attracting more partnership opportunities and bringing more funding into their organization.
With the increased internal organization and alignment, partners like the Hilton Foundation have noticed OBAP’s efforts. We helped facilitate a successful application for the $350,000 Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Grant that emphasized the impact of the organization through the workforce development model.
As more investments in programs come in, we’re here to manage their finances and help them stay focused on their mission. Having a strategic partner helps keep them on track and working toward meaningful partnerships that allow them to fulfill their mission. Their great work is also attracting more professionals to their organization and helping their programs improve. Membership has more than doubled in the past two years, allowing OBAP to grow their programs and spread their work further than before.
Outreach-driven associations have the ability to make an impact in their field, but many times they struggle to reach their full potential as administrative responsibilities and time constraints get in the way. At the most basic, association management can help relieve the pressure from organizations and their leaders so they can focus on their mission. But, the true value of an AMC comes from the strategic approach they can bring to an organization that helps their board focus their efforts and make the most impactful decisions that fulfill their mission.
Is Talley Right for You?
Fill out a questionnaire with some basic info about your association, then we will reach out to discuss if association management is right for you and how we can help.