Perhaps your organization is determining how to grow, or perhaps you are stretched thin, or trying to do too much with too little. Maybe you need an impartial sounding board through private discussions with a peer. At Odyssey Associates, we can help you focus, whether on a personal level through executive coaching or on an organizational level through strategic planning. Whether you need support in coaching, facilitating meetings, developing a planning framework, engaging stakeholders, or building operating models, Odyssey Associates can provide the support you need to attain clarity and maximize your organization’s impact.
Founded in 2001, HartBeat Ensemble's mission is to create provocative theater that connects their community beyond traditional barriers of race, gender, class, and geography. In 2020, HartBeat Ensemble hired Odyssey Associates to coach its new executive leadership team. The original purpose of this work was to collectively develop a vision and strategy to support the organization moving forward. However, the Coronavirus pandemic ensued, and Odyssey Associates quickly adjusted its scope to work with the organization to adapt to the pandemic.
"Josh's executive coaching isn't just a boilerplate exercise...he tailored his interactions specifically to our needs as leaders of a small arts nonprofit and knew exactly when and how to pivot during extraordinary events like COVID-19. His calm, firm, and joyous work with us has been illuminating."
- Godfrey Simmons, Artistic Director
The Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (WVRA) is a New Haven-based non-profit organization and a designated Connecticut Main Street organization. Its mission is to partner with local businesses, property owners, residents and public and private institutions to foster and sustain economic revitalization, community engagement and cultural vitality in Westville Village and the surrounding neighborhoods, while emphasizing historic preservation and placemaking. In fall 2019, WVRA hired Odyssey Associates to conduct an operational feasibility study of Lyric Hall, a small theatre originally constructed in 1914 that was for sale by its private owner. Odyssey Associates first researched three possible, diverse models for operating models for Lyric Hall, and then developed a sample activity profile as a foundation for a future financial operating model. The research and documents gave WVRA the ability to articulate to key stakeholders how Lyric Hall's programming would change under its ownership.
"Working with Josh has been a joy! He is generous with his knowledge and experience and flexible in his thinking. He really took the time to understand our organization, our community and our goals for the project, and to make the path forward understandable and achievable."
- Lizzy Donius, Executive Director
Fundraising is the capital with which arts organizations sustain and expand their impact. At Odyssey Associates, we provide strategic fundraising counsel that is uniquely tailored to your needs. Instead of cookie-cutter tactics and rote giving pyramids, we will look at your organization's unique qualities to determine the most effective and efficient strategies for you. Whether you are looking to build the overall size of your donor base, develop your relationships with major donors, or plan a capital campaign, Odyssey Associates can guide you to success.
Artvolution's mission is to celebrate the power and beauty of the global Black experience by advancing and empowering American communities through high-quality arts, innovative educational opportunities and health and wellness programs. In 2020, Artvolution hired Odyssey Associates to help the organization build its fundraising capacity. Odyssey Associates researched grant opportunities for Artvolution and created a grants calendar for the organization to follow. Members of our team wrote grants for Artvolution and we also identified a number of important potential institutional donors and introduced the chief creative officer to those foundation program officers.
The mission of the Wethersfield Historical Society is to preserve and promote Wethersfield’s history and culture to inspire people today and tomorrow. In 2021, WHS hired Odyssey Associates to conduct a feasibility study for a capital campaign to accomplish three objectives: Renovate the historic Hurlbut-Dunham House in Old Wethersfield; fabricate a new permanent exhibit on Wethersfield history; and, build the organization's endowment. We conducted a file analysis of the historical society's membership cross-referenced with proprietary third-party data to determine who might be the top prospects for such a campaign. Odyssey Associates then conducted a series of leadership interviews and provided an assessment of WHS's readiness for a campaign as well as recommended next steps.
Whether you are anticipating a future change to your organization's management team, or there has been an unplanned departure of leadership staff, Odyssey Associates can provide leadership at the executive and department levels while you search for your next colleague. With particular experience with management transitions, we understand how to quickly assimilate to an organization, how to collaborate with board and staff members, and how to maintain relationships with your donors so your organization can continue supporting art and artists with minimal disruption to its operations.
The mission of White Heron Theatre Company is to produce transformative, professional productions of classical and contemporary plays and create innovative educational experiences based on that work. White Heron retained Odyssey Associates in late 2019 to focus on fundraising, marketing, and developing new operational systems. With Josh serving as interim managing director, White Heron saw a 79% increase in individual donors and well as received its first grants from the National Endowment from the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and two major local foundations. Josh also provided critical guidance for the organization while it was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through persistent fundraising and federal relief, White Heron achieved a substantial operating surplus that allowed the organization to reopen from a position of financial strength.
"At a pivotal time in White Heron’s lifecycle, Josh provided leadership and partnership –– evidenced in his willingness to think big with us and then map those lofty ideals to realistic possibilities and executable plans. As a Managing Director he has proven himself to be equally strong as an organizational leader, strategic thinker and a marketer.
"We hired Josh to help us transition from start-up mode to growth and sustainability while keeping the entrepreneurial spirit of a small arts organization dedicated to promoting dialogue with our community. On day one, literally, I asked Josh to sit in on a Board meeting without any expectations. But he had done his homework. He jumped from the 5-meter platform and immediately engaged the Board as if he were a tenured staffer. His ability to quickly immerse himself in the business kept us moving forward with purposeful speed.
"In a few short months as Managing Director, Josh had helped the leadership team to move the organization forward and prepare a solid foundation for our future. And then… global pandemic. During the COVID-19 crisis, Josh ratcheted up to another gear to help us do the right thing, the right way –– being responsible for the organization while putting the community first.
"We are lucky to have Josh as a key part of our leadership team. He is a seasoned veteran who listens, thinks, solves, and leads. He is first and foremost a responsible partner with a personal stake in the outcome. But at the end of the day, his values-driven character stands above all. To work with Josh is to work with family (the kind you love)."
- Robert Doran, Board Chair
Writers Theatre was founded to explore productions in which the word on the page and the artists that bring the word to life hold primary importance. Writers retained Josh in January 2020 to serve as its interim general manager to negotiate agreements with authors and directors as the organization prepared for the 2020 – 2021 season. Then, in fall 2020, the organization’s finance director departed, and Josh stepped in to prepare financial models for different operating scenarios to aid the nonprofit in its decision making in response to the ongoing pandemic crisis. After that scope of work was completed, the organization hired Josh again to coach a member of its senior management team.
"I have known Josh Borenstein for over 20 years and have worked with him as project manager during our capital campaign and a colleague during his tenure as one of our theatre communities most respected executive arts leaders. The creation of Odyssey Associates comes at the most ideal time for us here at Writers Theatre, as we are in the middle of a staff transition. Josh has joined our team as a consultant as well as taking on a variety of general management responsibilities. Josh is providing much needed strategic guidance, advice and support during a critical time here and we are grateful."
- Kathryn M. Lipuma, Executive Director