Transition Task Force

The members convened at 3:00 pm using the virtual meeting technology. 

PRESENT: Celeste Branham, Luke Shorty, Jenni Tilton-Flood, Becky Hayes Boober, Janet May, Secretary Shenna Bellows, Maryalice Crofton, Jessica Nixon, and Thenera Bailey (SISGI).

SISGI Report Back on Interviews with Other State Service Commissions. A summary of the New Jersey interview was first. 

New Jersey made the same transition from Department of Education to Secretary of State.

  • Key player in transition was Asst Sec of State that had been there for 30 year and was challenged to make these change.
  • Transition was not done by legislation but was in the budget bill initiated

Governor’s Office of Volunteerism receives $79k that supports a portion of ED salary. That Office was previously in Human Services where ED also previously worked so team was familiar with each other. Executive Director - is unclassified position and also responsible for:

  • MLK Commission
  • Hellenic Commission
  • Governor's office of Volunteerism
  • American Indian Commission

Benefits of Department of State

  • Not a small program in a big pond
  • Able to utilize the dept staff as match and department pays fringe (60%) in NJ
  • Strong Support from the Secretary
  • Largest team of Staff positions ever  
    - AmeriCorps Administrator (classified and union position) - is 100% AmeriCorps and receives higher pay than ED, worked with state for 30 years 
    - Deputy Director (unclassifed) - Is also deputy for ED roles and is also lead program for Foster Grandparents 
    - Program Officer - hourly ($38/hr) no fringe benefits - 30 hours 
    - Jr. Program Officer - Former AmeriCorps ( is also doing fiscal in transition with accountant) - 20 - 25 hours 
    - Recruitment Officer - Former AmeriCorps Members - 20-25 hours 
    - Junior Grants Officer - civil service position full time 
    - Sr. Compliance Officer - “Smart move” don't let programs approve enrollment has been with organization for 20 years  
  • Note - had almost fully dedicated accountant that retired, was part time.

Disadvantages of Dept of State

  • Understanding the fiscal and unique aspects of AmeriCorps grant management (e.g. Carryover for members) including rule changes and extending grant periods.
  • New Jersey Office of Management and Budget has different rules than AmeriCorps
  • DOE had strong systems for grants and compliance and Secretary of State Office is tiny and more flexible environment so commission has brought rigor to the environment and new systems

It is located in the Department of Community Affairs and has very limited staff.

  • 3 state positions and the ED (also state position) - no appointees
  • 2 Program Officers - One stop shop for all programs
  • Compliance Officer - fiscal and compliance

It manages 21 AmeriCorps programs

  • 7-8 Programs per Program Officer
  • ED has portfolio and all planning grants
  • All programs must submit monthly financial requests and Commission exercises strong oversight of risk using risk assessment tools 
  • Uses intermediary model to increase reach and capacity

Benefits of Community Affairs

  • Able to use operating systems such as Legal, HR and Accounting
  • No fundraising responsibility
  • Experience with federal funding via CDBG and housing grants
  • Disadvantages of Community Affairs
  • Limits staff growth and salaries
  • Financial team has high turnover and they are a small funded “unicorn” type of program in their financial processes

Interviews Remaining
Illinois commission interview is still being scheduled. Thenera asked task force members if they felt they had enough information or wanted to hear more. The Consensus was that the reports so far have been helpful and are sufficient.

Operational Review of Dept of Education and Dept of State
This item was an open discussion about what else needed to be explored. The conclusion was that SISGI will connect with key people in the General Government Service Center to understand what tasks they perform for the Commission and how much time/human resource is needed. There needs to be a similar interview of GGSC human resource staff. Maryalice will provide contacts for both divisions. Report back will likely be August because of fiscal year end work that ties up those groups.

Executive Transition and Succession Planning
To gather data for understanding staff work, SISGI had staff do a detailed tracking of time over 2 weeks (May 8-12 and May 22-26). Staff reported against core tasks and duties connected to their role. They also reported on unexpected responsibilities or tasks. In both cases, time spent on activities was captured. The goal is Help to to determine what the ideal staffing would be and then how we can create ideal roles and positions. Half the staff submitted reports. Maryalice will follow up and get the missing reports to Thenera. This staff tracking will be the basis of the presentation at the July meeting. Following that, there will be meetings to gather input from staff on what they would like to see with the transition and staffing moving forward.

The last block of work is a Sustainability Audit which has not started as the previously discussed items need to be completed first.