Priorities include communication, collaboration, accountability, and impact
Washington, D.C. – Setting a tone of confidence and excitement about the future of national service, Wendy Spencer began her tenure as CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service yesterday by outlining her goal of strengthening the impact of national service and volunteering in meeting critical community needs.
At an all hands meeting of agency staff, Spencer said her strategies for strengthening national service and volunteering include empowering others, encouraging creativity, recognizing excellence, strengthening collaboration, ensuring accountability, and demonstrating impact. Throughout the day, Spencer emphasized her interest in dialogue and listening to what staff, communities, and service groups say their needs are.
In a video to the national service community, Spencer recounted some of the service experiences that shaped her life and asked community and nonprofit leaders to share their ideas on how to make service more effective in addressing local problems.
“I want to create an environment that encourages innovation, creativity, empowers people and organizations to share and demonstrate the results that they've seen in their work. I want to know what communities needs are. I want to know how CNCS can help local communities address those local needs,” Spencer said. “What kind of resources can we bring to the table? How can we partner better? This is what excites me about the future of national service. And I'm just honored to get started and work with you, and helping people across America.”
Spencer, who was confirmed by the Senate on March 29, met with senior staff and the Inspector General, made calls to key stakeholders, spoke at an all hands meeting, and walked the halls meeting employees.
Spencer takes the helm as CNCS is poised for greater impact and success, with well-run programs, an impact-focused Strategic Plan, a strong network of state service commissions, thousands of results-driven grantees that include some of America's most entrepreneurial organizations, key partnerships in the nonprofit and corporate sector, a high-performing workforce, and a widespread culture of impact and accountability.
As the agency's first CEO to come directly from the national service field, Spencer brings in-depth knowledge and extensive on-the-ground experience to her post. Since 2004 she has served as CEO of Volunteer Florida, where she led the state service commission's work to manage federal, state, and local grants, set policy and program priorities, provide training and monitoring, and broadly promote service and volunteering across the state. Previously Spencer served as Director of the Florida Park Service, a 1,700 employee agency, and she has held other management positions in the nonprofit and private sector.
In her talk with employees, Spencer shared insights from her decades of experience in managing volunteers, from organizing festivals for the Macon County Chamber of Commerce to leading fundraising efforts for the United Way of Big Bend to overseeing volunteers and donations after the 2004-2005 Florida hurricanes, which spurred more than 250,000 volunteers and $85 million in donations. “I think I was born to be a volunteer manager. From an early age, I liked to take the lead and get things done.”
Spencer also highlighted the bipartisan history of national service, most recently expressed by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act that passed with strong bipartisan support in 2009.
“I really believe in the impact that individuals can make, one person at a time, or collectively working with a group, and serving communities. I want to make sure that I'm in a position to share that story, and bring those solutions to our nation's leaders so they will join with us in making sure that we're being as effective as we possibly can. I want to be in a position to help drive with everyone's support around the country and drive the Serve America Act to its fullest potential,” Spencer said.