"YPTC kept all the trains running during our transition..."
With a $24 million budget, five sub-entities operating under the organizational umbrella, over 100 contracts, and dozens of programs in four distinct service areas, Congreso de Latinos Unidos is what President and CEO Cynthia Figueroa calls a “large and wonderfully complex” nonprofit. Based in Philadelphia’s Latino community since 1977, Congreso is a multi-services agency helping many thousands of predominantly Latino clients each year in four core areas of education, workforce development, health, and social services. From HIV education and prevention to GED preparatory classes, from a charter school to family social services, from truancy intervention to financial literacy programs, Congreso is strengthening Latino communities by embodying a spirit of “mi casa es su casa” where everyone is familia.
Congreso’s spirit is also about creating a performance management culture, which faced a critical transition in the Spring of 2014. The CFO had recently left, and while Vice President Dominique Bernardo was fully prepared to become the new CFO, she was also about to take a maternity leave.
“The board wanted to make sure that all the trains continued to run on time during the transition process,” says Bernardo. “They wanted to get someone in here who knows their stuff – accounting and nonprofits.”
Figueroa had met YPTC President and Founder Eric Fraint when she worked at Women Against Abuse. “I was taken by their level of commitment to nonprofits. We wanted to have an additional layer of support during our CFO search and to ensure an ongoing level of support following the transition as our organization continues to expand.”
YPTC Associate Lisa Auerbach “hit the decks running and kept all the trains running” during Bernardo’s absence. She took over a half-dozen projects in the works. Auerbach is “awesome,” says Bernardo. “When I came back, she remained a great support to me. She knows what needs to be done and she can do it. She continues to be invaluable to us as we go through a lot of process improvement and staff transitions. And having YPTC Manager Angela Coaxum available as well gives me even more comfort and support.”
Figueroa adds, “I can’t say enough amazing things about Lisa. We’re a very vibrant, family-type organization, and Lisa fit in with our ‘mi casa es su casa’ culture very quickly. She, like everyone else we work with at YPTC, is so professional at all levels, with an impeccable work ethic and complete clarity while they provide information to senior leadership.”
“Lisa has other clients so she knows what’s happening in the field. I can ask how other nonprofits are handling their issues. YPTC is a great resource for us as we think through our processes,” Bernardo says.
“You hate to have to go through a transition, but our CFO transition brought YPTC to us and that has made us stronger. I would encourage nonprofits to think of YPTC not only during times of transition but also anytime they are conducting long-term planning or starting a major project. They provide a different set of eyes and they are a terrific resource,” says Figueroa.
“We’re really happy,” adds Bernardo. “It’s been a wise investment.”