The 2015 Social & Community Investment Awards: Huron Consulting Group

j. tiscornia

Firm: Huron Consulting Group
Type of Work: Pro Bono
Client: Test Positive Awareness Network

Late last year, Huron Consulting Group kicked off a Pro Bono project through its Helping Hands program with Test Positive Awareness Network (TPAN). TPAN’s mission is to empower everyone living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS to live open, healthy and productive lives.

TPAN innovates to deliver peer-led support programs and collaborative wellness services and to communicate comprehensive information until HIV/AIDS is eradicated.

The initial scope of the pro bono project was to develop recommendations on organizational strategy. Huron developed the project and deliverables that included a digital roadmap of potential future technologies and a plan to increase circulation base, readership and advertising revenue of TPAN’s Positively Aware, a national publication for patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

TPAN was looking for someone to help it evolve to come up with a high-level strategic plan, which they really didn’t have, says Huron’s Diane Doherty, Director, Diversity & Community Affairs. “They needed to figure out where do they want to go with the organization and what would be the best benefit for the community they are serving,” Doherty says. “They were looking for help with a roadmap. What were the next steps for them as an organization?”

Over the last year, TPAN has been through significant leadership and board changes while Huron has continued to engage in strategic brainstorming sessions and planning meetings with leadership to determine the right path for the organization. A five-year strategic plan for TPAN is currently in development.

Mark Hussey, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Huron Consulting Group, says 20 Huron individuals, four project teams and three people with overall project oversight worked on the project. Of course, Huron’s relationship with TPAN is open-ended and ongoing. A big part of that, he says, stems from the fact that Huron already had a significant number of employees already involved with the organization.

“Within Huron’s culture, our diversity and inclusion has a huge amount of participation across the company so we’re very aligned with where our employees are passionate and where they want to spend time and energy,” Hussey says. “I would call it an outgrowth of the people that we have here. It’s not a top-down initiative at all, it’s really about our people and where their passion lies.”

Huron employees are committed to serving the communities where they live and work, Hussey says, and the firm prefers to partner with organizations, rather than just do one off pro bono engagements.

When Huron opens up a pro bono project, it gets plenty of people who want to participate for any number of reasons, says Doherty.

“Obviously, one is they believe in the cause, but another we hear a lot is that these projects often give them a chance to use their skills in a little bit of a different way,” Doherty says. “It allows them to the opportunity to give back and expand their skill sets at the same time.”

In addition, it gives people the opportunity to experience the impact and the difference their work makes on a not-for-profit organization, which is different than on a traditional client project, she says.

“Many of our people are actually doing work with TPAN outside of work hours, which I think says a lot about the type of people we have here at Huron,” Doherty says. “But it says even more about how they feel about the type of work they’re doing.”

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