by Connie McMullen
Not many know Reno’s Kelly Marschall, but she has indirectly touched thousands of lives having influenced government decisions on policy and planning. Marschall is president of Social Entrepreneurs, Inc., a Management Consulting Services company that gives business tools to non-profits and governments to tackle larger problems. Strategically planning for 21years, SEI have been contracted to preform more than 50 strategic plans, which include 20 in Nevada.
There is no project too large or difficult for SEI. "We engage people in planning," she said. "We do it because it’s hard and inspirational, not because it is easy. That’s what inspires me."
SEI, a first of its kind to open shop in Nevada, has influenced policy makers and leaders in the Silver State and portions of California much like consulting giants McKinsey & Co. and Deloitte Consulting, tackling issues, systems, workforce development and industry problems. Rooted in deep conviction that "We are our brothers keeper," Marshall noted, "every time we don’t attend to the critical needs of our neighbors, the bill will come due."
Working to get a handle on the tougher issues confronting the state over the past two decades has been approached with critical thinking. Marshall’s favorite strategic plan is the first Food Security Plan for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
Over the years food security has affected both children and seniors. With Nevada’s older adult population poised to grow by 36 percent over the next ten years, current data indicates roughly 14.8 percent of older Nevadans are food insecure.
Strategies to address the need for food is a concern for administrators and policy makers statewide. This past legislative session, some of those concerns were addressed when extra funding was appropriated to the Aging and Disability Services Division (ADSD) meals program to meet gaps, a direct result of advocacy and strategic planning. The long awaited rate increase for meals will be given to providers beginning in January, 2018.
Initially to address the Food Security Plan, former HHS Director Mike Willden, Department of Agriculture Director Jim Barbee, and former Administrator of the Purchasing Division Greg Smith, set out to allocate more resources and money to make changes in supplies available. "When people shift systems that’s when planning happens like it should."
A good example of a systems change is the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit that occurred in August, 2016. Over 500 attended the summit in Las Vegas to address the crisis. The plan and recommendations to resolve the opioid epidemic are ongoing and can be read on the Governor Brain Sandoval’s website at: FinalSummitReport.pdf
The human condition and services necessary to bring about change became a passion for Marshall in 1998 when she went to work helping young women with alcohol and drug addiction problems. After two and a half years, she decided to make a change but human needs never strayed far behind. A relationship with Incline businessman Mike Smith, SEI CEO, led to her long career that has been both engaging and challenging. Armed with the knowledge of nonprofit operations and human suffering, she has guided SEI to consult in very difficult areas.
"Instead of Nevada being number one in every category of bad core rankings, it has finally taken a leading edge nationally, specifically dealing with the opioid crisis. There is a vision, and much political will."
Another emerging trend that is demanding attention is the paradigm shift in the aging population. A trailing edge Baby Boomer, Marschall believes older adults will find help from aging boomers over the next 10years.
Many boomers are of the Sandwich Generation, raising their own children and grandchildren. "Those experiences breed compassion and understanding. We have a large sample size of people who are connected in more ways than they understand. It creates a climate where people truly see neighbors and want to help them. That understanding is vital."
Having recently completed an update to the DHHS Olmstead/ADSD Strategic Plan in 2016, Marschall said of the document, "We’re looking at the oldest of the old, they are the largest and fastest growing population. These Nevadans want to age in place, to stay in their homes and age independently. The question is ‘how can we craft that respectfully to help meet the needs?’"
Much of Marschall’s values stem from her parents. One of eight children, she was raised with a sense that "we are our brothers keeper." That strong commitment inspired an early call to service.
Since 2000, SEI has completed numerous strategic plans for HHS to draw conclusions and similarities across the divisions, parallel goals and priorities that administrators are seeking to achieve. One prevailing theme is that of the "No Wrong Door" concept developed in the No Wrong Door Strategic Plan, which makes universal entry to programs and services available to all consumers no matter what division they contact.
"NWD systems are designed to serve as highly visible and trusted places where people of all ages, incomes and disabilities get information and one-on-one person-centered counseling on the full range of Long Term Services and support options."
With this in mind, SEI and Marschall have much work to do. Accountability will be essential – "to do the things we say we’re going to do for community wellbeing." Adding, "If you don’t write it down, and do what you say, there is no accountability. That’s where the rubber hits the road."
It should be noted, SEI has been contracted to develop numerous strategic plans for HHS on a variety of critical issues. That opportunity came about when the state developed a Master Services Contract in 2009, a vigorous vetting process for vendors. Once strategic planning was developed in HHS by a single vendor, it became obvious where the divisions were operating in a silo that actually blocked consumers from getting much needed services. That is a significant component to SEI’s work and commitment to moving Nevada forward.
Former ADSD Administrator Jane Gruner summarized the relationship nicely, stating, "SEI is a Nevada company that understands the people and landscape of Nevada. The product affects them as it does all Nevadan’s. They really understand Nevada."