Strategic Organizational and Conservation Consulting


Strategic Planning



Madison, Wisconsin-based Gathering Waters Conservancy helps land trusts, landowners, and communities protect the places that make Wisconsin special. The organization typically undertakes a strategic planning initiative every three years, and turned to MAYES | WILSON & ASSOCIATES to facilitate the process.

A challenge faced by Gathering Waters was how to  transition from a staff-led strategic planning process to a board-driven effort. The organization looked to MWA to design and facilitate the process and provide experienced advice.

Although the organization was already proud to have a deeply involved board, Gathering Waters made a commitment to improve board development and wanted to ensure this commitment was carried out in the strategic planning process.
The MWA team worked with Gathering Waters to establish a strategic planning task group comprised mostly of board members, and helped both staff and board members identify and fulfill specific roles throughout the planning  process. “Sara and Carol really helped the staff realize where we needed to take a step back so the board could take a step forward,” said Gathering Waters’ Associate Director Sara DeKok. “What really helped was to have that third party expert presence to guide us and push us in the right ways.”
In addition to facilitating the process, MWA provided support and direction throughout the development of the organization’s strategic plan. The result was a strategic plan that staff and board continue to use to guide the work of Gathering Waters. “We feel it is still a really strong and relevant compass for us,” said the DeKok. “More intangibly, that planning process also served us well in better engaging our board, so it was a big step in the progression of better and deeper board engagement.”

“What really
helped was to have
that third party expert
presence to guide us
and push us in
the right ways.”

— Gathering Waters Conservancy