Fair Chance


As its name aptly implies, Fair Chance is an organization that partners with non-profits to give plenty of fair chances – via community-based youth and family programs – to more than 15,000 children in Washington DC’s most underserved, poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Fair Chance does this by providing free intensive capacity building services to 40 non-profit organizations serving the poorest areas of the city.

That alone is a daunting task, but when Maria T. Nagorski became Fair Chance’s Executive Director, she faced enormous internal challenges as well. She took over from the organization’s esteemed founder, she had to manage a relatively new staff and she had to hire additional people. How could she build on Fair Chance’s previous success, motivate her staff and make her own effective impact – all at the same time?

Fortunately, Managance is helping Maria to meet these challenges with its Starting SMART Coaching Program for new executives. In this case, SMART means Soulfully, Mindfully, Astutely, Responsibly and Trustingly. Each session focuses on one of these words.

Starting SMART is a 6-month program with follow-up at 9 and 12 months. It’s designed especially to help new executives manage themselves well throughout their transition, quickly establish their credibility and accelerate their contributions to their new organization. Maria credits Managance and its founder, Denice Hinden, for guiding a successful transition process and providing important post-hire coaching to her as she stepped into her new role. “Denice really knows the non-profit world and she has an outstanding ability to adapt to the prevailing needs of an organization,” Maria said.

Maria knows what she’s talking about. She herself has been a non-profit organizational development consultant and Fair Chance provides capacity building and non-profit management services. She appreciates the opportunity to brainstorm with Managance on the challenges that come from following in the footsteps of an organization’s founder and forming a new leadership team. And as Maria starts making an impact in her new position, she counts on Managance to help connect her with fellow non-profit leaders and professionals.

“Denice offers great advice on what conferences I should go to, and which people I should get in touch with,” Maria said. “I have found her advice and suggestions to be enormously beneficial. She has a model that she uses for her coaching, but she does not think in a box. She’s also a very good listener.”

Maria credits Managance’s coaching with helping her focus on Fair Chance’s immediate and future needs – which are enormous, considering the poverty engulfing the communities served by Fair Chance and the capacity building needs of its partner organizations. And thanks to Managance, Fair Chance has excellent chances to turn dreams of success into realities for countless children and families who sorely need them.

“The coaching has really helped me in my relationships with our staff,” Maria said. “I now have a strong staff and an engaged board. Managance has made Fair Chance a stronger organization. In the process, I’ve become a stronger person.”