Organization Development Network of Western New York

Making BIG Things Happen Through Strategic Collaboration: May Meeting

Posted in Programs by Michael Cardus on April 11, 2011


May Meeting Announcement

“Making BIG Things Happen Through Strategic Collaboration”

Facilitator: Mara B. Huber, Ph.D.
Friday, May 13th
9:00am to 9:30am – networking time; 9:30am to 12:00pm – meeting
New Era Cap, 160 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14202
Parking is available in the New Era visitor’s lot, on the street, or in various lots/ramps located within a block of New Era. Refreshments are available for purchase in the New Era cafeteria by requesting a visitor’s pass from the Donna, the lobby receptionist.

Meeting Overview

We are floating in a sea of latent potential. For virtually every need and opportunity that exists in our communities, an exponential number of resources, expertise, and supports are there for the taking. But despite increasing incentives and attempts to actualize the potential of strategic partnerships, the threats to our communities continue to grow. If strategic partnerships are the answer, why are we struggling to get the positive movement that we so desperately need?
I argue that the problem is largely one of framing. Although we are well aware of the challenges and threats that exist, and the importance of leveraging assets toward the development of solutions, we have essentially doomed our efforts by going after the wrong thing – namely, partnerships – instead of collaboration. The word “partnerships” is a noun, suggesting that partnerships are things to be acquired, items that we own and can cross off our list as soon as we formalize a relationship. If we want to get strategic about partnering, it’s the verb we need to go after. Instead of thinking of partnerships as objects to be collected and displayed, we need to view them as means to very real and important ends. And we need to think big.

Through my presentation I will share a model for strategic collaboration that has the potential to significantly impact the lives of communities, youth, and individuals as well as building capacity for the partnering organizations and systems that they represent. I will begin by presenting the general model, which focuses on “designing” collaboration from the foundation up with the goal of building capacity and actualizing potential. I will then explore 4 levels of application with supporting evidence, including: Buffalo Public Schools; women and children in the Kitenga village in Northern Tanzania; youth engagement and social entrepreneurism; and personal empowerment.

Facilitator Biography

Dr. Huber currently works at the University at Buffalo where she serves as Special Assistant to the President for Educational Initiatives and founding director of the UB Center for Educational Collaboration (CEC). Through these related positions Mara oversees the University’s commitment to strengthening the educational pipeline and directs its institutional partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools and other educational organizations. In addition to cultivating educational pathways, Mara has a strong commitment to civic engagement with a focus on both local and international projects. Together with her oldest daughter Elena, she has authored a children’s book titled “Wiggle Your Power” that serves as the foundation for civic camps and programs run through the CEC. The book is closely tied to the Buffalo Tanzania Education Project (BTEP) which is a community-based initiative focusing on women and girls in the village of Kitenga in Northern Tanzania. Mara is particularly proud of this initiative as it demonstrates the power of community collaboration and civic engagement.
To date, BTEP projects have included an early childhood center; secondary school for girls; solar cookers; and a well and sanitation project led by Buffalo Sunrise Rotary Club, of which Mara is a proud member. BTEP leaders also work with area schools and youth to support their engagement and interest in the project.

Dr. Huber holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University at Buffalo with a focus on language perception and cognitive development. Her current research interests include schooluniversity partnerships and strategic collaborations. In addition to her University work Dr. Huber is a frequent consultant and speaker on issues of school-university partnerships, and leveraging educational collaboration for maximal impact. She has also authored a number of education related articles and manuscripts including “High Stakes Partnerships,” which
appeared in the November 2009 issue of the American School Board Journal.

To learn more about the CEC and related programming, visit or contact Mara at

And hold your calendars for our next meeting on June 10th …
Presenter: Terry Babij
Location: New Era Cap
Time: 9:00 to Noon
More details will follow

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  1. […] Huber facilitated our May Organizational Development Network of Western NY […]

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